sale on the sale

J. Crew did it to me again. They know when I’m weak. This long sticky summer has me beat down, and therefore I was more susceptible than usual to the additional 40% off all sale items offer even though usually by this time of year, I’m planning fall and winter purchases instead of scooping up summer deals.

But with temperatures soaring in the 100s, my favorite season seems eons away, and I’m tired of being hot. So much so that I broke a major rule of mine and bought shorts from the said sale. I hate shorts. I hate the way I look in them and after a few years of trying, I finally gave up. But I have been lured back in by the pictured versions for $21. I went with one 4-inch inseam and one 5-inch because I just wasn’t sure, and 3-inch seemed too I’m twentysomething and haven’t had babies yet.

I also had to have the orange version of the beige espadrilles I have been living in this summer, thanks to my friend Laura who initially pointed them out to me. The flat espadrille might be a little too much like Toms in practice, but I hate flip flops and need something to run to and from the pool in this summer.

I’m not usually a tunic-wearer, but have discovered them this summer as a great way to cover-up from unwanted sun rays in a manner that is easy breezy and not as stifling as hiding under a towel. Both those pictured here will work great with my fuschia bathing suit.

Of course, if my track record with J. Crew holds true, I will end up returning half of my purchases (the half that weren’t final sale, that is) though I hope that at some point, my retail luck changes. Maybe, just maybe, all six items will work. And I’m sure that once I’m totally geared for the dog days of summer, fall will surely make an appearance.

 

all the news that’s fit to print

Yes, I have been missing in action. Well, not missing in a dropped off the face of the earth sort of way. But I didn’t spend any time during the week of Chelsea doing any writing that is worthy of sharing (I blame the heat) and this week has been a dizzying cascade of work, kids, camp, heat and stress, all without my daily dose of Biker Barre to keep me sane and balanced.

So what did I do with my time off? I shopped. I spa-ed. I worked out. I ate (a lot). I drank some nice wines. I took the kids to Philadelphia. We went to a Fourth of July parade, derby car race and river raft regatta. Then our hostess in Philadelphia – my roommate from college – came down to DC with me. We shopped more. Ate more. Drank more. I introduced her to the barre-spin double. We napped. We saw Magic Mike. We watched movies at my house.

It was a good week.

In terms of my styling projects, Chani did not end up wearing the Kate Spade dress to the wedding in Charleston because while it was 105 here in DC with a heat index of 115, it was 145 degrees with 300% humidity in South Carolina and the fabric was just too heavy and clingy for an outdoor affair. She will wear it a lot this summer though, so no regrets, and bought dangly purple earrings as I recommended. She still doesn’t have the perfect shoes to go with the dress, according to what I heard yesterday, so I’m going to work on getting her into a snakeskin pair as suggested by Rosana from DC Style Factory.

Terra did wear her green dress to the wedding and paired it with a bunch of gold jewelry: stacked bracelets, necklace, earrings. Apparently there is no picture that captures the entire look though so you will just have to envision its greatness.

I got eyelash extensions and I.Love.Them. I asked my technician to give me a length that doesn’t scream hooker, and I’m extremely pleased with the results. Now no matter how hot and sweaty I get or how much I cry, my eyes are never smudgy. I’m not sure it’s a sustainable budget practice, but I plan to at least maintain them through the hot and sticky summer.

Which given the way the climate is changing, could mean until November.

men’s wear wednesday: an alternative to suits

I don’t really have a solution to offer, but wanted to make sure I express my sympathy for all the men I saw (and the many more I didn’t personally see) slugging to work through the heat and humidity on this brutal first day of summer. While I did not see a single woman wearing a dress or blouse with any hint of a sleeve, all the men I saw were already melting in their long-sleeved work shirts, even before donning jacket and tie.

There are many times that I thank the stars I am a woman, no more so than this time of year. Our professional wardrobe options are so much more vast. Let’s be honest, most men can’t carry off the seersucker suit with Trent Lott aplomb. (I think you have to be a fifth generation southern gentleman to really own it.) Lightweight wool? Sounds like an oxymoron to me, but even though I know what is meant by the term, it still sounds dreadful on a day expected to be in the mid-90s. Even if your suit is indeed of a lightweight fabric like poplin, you still have to tie a noose around your neck from 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday.

I don’t have any great ideas for changing up what professional options you have for this time of year (khakis are not the answer). But I do have an idea that is worth consideration. Since we’re never going to get a “heat day” off from work in the summer the way we get snow days in the winter, perhaps the federal government could institute a policy of “no jacket and tie days.” It could be the summer equivalent to “liberal leave” during inclement weather in the winter.

Until that time, hang your shirt, jacket and tie on a hanger and wear something light and airy for your walk to work or walk from the metro or your car. Just don’t do what the guy I saw this morning did. He had said hanger with office attire on it, but opted to walk to work in his wife-beater. And while I feel bad for all you overdressed men out there, no woman wants to see a sweaty man in a tank top.

 

fashion happenings

If there is one thing that I absolutely hate about Capitol Hill (aside from a dysfunctional Congress) it’s the utter lack of fashion commerce. (Union Station doesn’t count.)

But this week, for those of us who work, shop and/or live on the Hill, there are two style events you need to put on your calendars.

The first happens to be tonight. (Sorry for the last minute nature of this information, but remember, I’m writing a short story.)

If you wear button-up shirts or blouses and are tired of  “boob gape” – that unsightly gap your shirt makes when it pulls across your chest – you need The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens. And tonight you have your chance to pick one up. A trunk show is being held from 5:00-8:00 at Johnny’s Half Shell to feature this ingenious blouse with extra (hidden) buttons to keep you from inadvertently flashing your boss. Come check out the Summer 2012 collection, receive 20% off any purchase you make, and let yourself be enlightened by a patented technology that is an Oprah Mush Have Item of the Year. I own two of these shirts, which I bought five years ago when I was working in the Senate, and I can attest to their functionality and durability. Quality fabrics and vibrant colors and patterns distinguish them from your average blouse. If the Farm Bill ends up in a quorum call all night, you have no excuse not to drop by for 15 minutes. No one will miss you. Really.

The second event I encourage you to attend is the Periwinkle Pop-up Shop at Tabula Rasa, located on 8th Street in Barracks Row. From 11:00-8:00 on June 21st and 22nd and 10:00-4:00 on the 23rd, you can shop the wears of this popular Northern Virginia-based boutique without having to cross the 14th Street Bridge. Are you, like me, looking to supplement your summer wardrobe? Need a dress for a wedding, garden party or maybe a hot date? Like funky jewelry and shoes you won’t find on the feet of the woman standing next to you in the elevator? Make sure you drop in to see what unique items Periwinkle is offering. I definitely plan to attend, so if you are interested, let me know and maybe we can add lunch or drinks or dinner to the agenda.

I dream of a day when I don’t have to drive/metro far and wide to find the quality shopping I crave, and fashion events like these will help draw attention to the shopping deficit in the area of DC (that’s you, Capitol Hill) that needs fashion guidance the most. Help encourage more such events (and maybe, gasp, a permanent boutique) by showing your support.

Be there or be forever mediocrely dressed.

belle of the ball

You remember Lee?

To recap, she was invited to a military ball and was trying to find a dress. The ball was last Friday and here she is in her selection, pretty in purple.

 

I don’t have the deets yet on how the night went, except that she had an amazing time.

On another note, I know I’ve been silent for a few days. I’ve been focusing on my short story, which I know you’re going to love, but it takes up all my writing energy. So bear with my creative processes, and I promise you shall be rewarded with literary genius.

Or at least a funny tale of… well, I don’t want to give anything away.

step into my closet

The two biggest questions I get asked about my clothes are, “where did you get that?” and “how did you ever think to put that [insert bold color] [insert item of clothing] with that [insert bold color] [insert item of clothing]?”

If you just don’t have time to put together an outfit or maybe you think you don’t know how, or you have a vision but are stuck on where to shop, check out the recently launched Kassie’s Closet. This project is based on the idea that every great pair of shoes deserves a great outfit. Or you could look at it the other way around and say every great outfit deserves the perfect shoe. Either way, in Kassie’s Closet you will find a set of outfits designed by a team of stylists, complete with purchase information and hyperlinks to each item. Just think, you can browse where I buy my outfits without the burden of finding a babysitter, parking or mapping out a route from store-to-store.

As if this weren’t enough, you can also “save” products and outfits you like to your own profile and receive emails when additional outfits are built by a stylist you follow and a notification on your page when a new outfit is made around an item you have saved. You can comment on outfits and engage in an “e-conversation” with the stylist who created the look. It’s interactive. It’s current. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or should I say, the greatest thing since four-inch heels?

Even if you don’t purchase outfits identical to those featured, you can use the Closet to inspire you to put together similar outfits or to put your own spin on a certain ensemble you see pictured.

I’m proud to be a Kassie’s Closet stylist, though everyday I wait for the Closet Powers That Be to realize I don’t really have any styling qualifications beyond being a wardrobe wonk with a strong appreciation for clothes and a slightly unhealthy fetish for shoes. I enjoy contributing to the Closet because it gives me a chance to put together wardrobe ideas I’m contemplating for myself, as well as providing an opportunity to share with you outfits (or versions of outfits) I already own. It’s my small way of making the world a more polished place, one soul (two soles) at a time.

If you aren’t already in the Closet, click on the link above to request an invitation (you will get one, it just might take a day or two) and start browsing. Let Kassie’s Closet and the team of stylists inspire you.

I look forward to seeing you in the Closet.

must have monday: the great white blazer

I have to admit, while it is a must have, I haven’t found my perfect white blazer yet.

Two years ago, when Rosanna Vollmerhausen, owner of DC Style Factory, came to my house and performed a closet audit on my spring and summer wardrobe, her immediate observation was that one of my gaps was a great white blazer.

I have spent the last two years on an mission to find it.

I know it shouldn’t be this hard, but I’m very particular about my blazers. They cannot be boyfriend style, for one, a cut that is (sadly for me) ubiquitous. Given how unforgiving white is, the material has to be of a certain quality. Cheaper fabrics might be passable in black but white shows all flaws. And speaking of flaws, given what a complete and utter klutz I can be, I really don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on this piece. I’m bound to bump into someone with a glass of red wine or have a kid with a nutella mouth give me a hug when wearing it. In other words, this will not be an investment piece for me like my black Smythe blazer was.

So the hunt continues for an affordable but not cheap looking great white blazer with a good shape. If you have any leads, you know where to find me.

summer clothes woes update

First of all, I would like to extend a big hug to everyone who reached out, either publicly or privately, to offer advice, share links, or otherwise advise on my efforts to find casual but stylish weekend summer wear. Given the level of response, I feel it’s only appropriate to provide an update.

Based on a recommendation from my friend Erika, I checked out Madewell, the casual sister company to J. Crew. I ended up buying their beachhouse dress in fuchsia (pictured). One concern about this dress is how many ice cubes would be dropped down the cut-out detail in the back, which (sorry) I found impossible to photograph for you without my back looking fat. While I like the idea of a mustard colored patent leather skinny belt around the waist, I don’t love the dress enough to keep it for the price. Back it will go.

This week, J. Crew kindly sent me a notice that more items had been added to their summer sale. Lured back to their website by my second favorite four-letter word, I bought the Driftwood dress (I know, this has a dreaded elastic waist, but I envision belting it) and the Elinor dress.  I think (hope) one or both of these dresses will help fill the causal weekend outings wardrobe gap.

I spent time time cruising the likes of Anthropologie and Modcloth but didn’t find anything that fit the bill. (I found a lot of items that didn’t fit the bill, of course.) Lilla P has some cute dresses but the price point is more than I want to spend on casual attire. Thus, the hunt continues. I’m determined to stay laser focused until I have filled my closet with seasonably appropriate weekend attire.

And then we can talk about shoes again.

current obsession

Let’s get one thing straight, I obsess about a lot of important things. My job, my kids, my life. The unexplained leak in the kitchen that I discovered on Tornado Friday. But the heavy must be balanced by the frivolous, and lately, the consumer goddess in me has been singularly focused on waiting for a certain handbag to go on sale.

The DVF Harper clutch.

I know, I just bought the Rita by Lillybee, the lovely bone-colored fine Italian leather bag that pairs beautifully with every bright color that dominates my spring and summer wardrobe. But I can’t use a bag of that delicate hue everyday. Already, I’m fretting over the faint marks of use that are making themselves apparent.

The DVF Harper clutch breaks all my handbag rules. The flap closure prevents quick retrieval of one’s phone. Unless one is using the strap, it needs to be carried. Carried. That means potentially left behind. It isn’t possible to secure it on a bar hook when out having a glass of wine. I probably can’t carry anything bulky in it, like the make up bag I tote around with me on a daily basis with my 7 lipsticks in it, or my sunglass and eyeglass cases. But I love it partly for its streamlined-ness.

If there is a purse fairy, I’d like an Hermes Kelly bag. But if the purse fairy is on a budget, yet still feeling generous, this handbag in a perfectly bold Chelsea color and an effortless envelop style would continue me on my journey (its a marathon not a sprint) to embrace wardrobe components that are slightly outside my comfort zone.

And it would give me one less thing to think about at 3:00 in the morning.

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.