Fashion Week: Reem Acra [09.06.14]

Fashion Week: Project Runway Season 13 [09.05.14]

Until recently, I hadn't realized that showing photos of the final runway show is major spoilage for anyone whose favorite character in Project Runway is the clothing. So to be fair to those folks...SPOILER ALERT!

For the past three seasons, I've been invited to cover Project Runway at NYFW, and every time it's been a delight to cover so much new talent in one marathon runway show. But this is the first season I actually got myself up to speed with the television show before I showed up, and as can be expected it made a huge difference in how excited I felt. It was fun to spot some of the eliminated contestants too, like the love-him-or-hate-him beachy boy Mitchell. The collections had far more highlights than are shown below, so perhaps at a later time I will process and publish more images from this show.

The judges: Nina, Heidi, Emmy Rossum, and Zac

Char Glover

Emily Paine

So obviously f├Ąde zu grau

Love Kini Zamora's dramatic silhouettes

Alexander Knox

Korina Emmerich

Sandya Garg used amazingly flamboyant materials, as usual

My personal favorite, Sean Kelly, works his magic with fringe

Amanda Valentine

Tim Gunn gets roped into the ALS ice bucket challenge - SEE VIDEO HERE!
My favorite "loser" so far, Carrie Sleutskaya

Danielle Brooks, aka Taystee from Orange Is the New Black

Fashion Week: Timo Weiland Men at High Line Hotel [09.03.14]

It's Fashion Week in NYC again, and I will be covering a few select shows this season.

This morning was hot and humid in Manhattan, in an effort to compensate for the past two mild months of summer. Timo Weiland showcased their menswear line for Spring/Summer 2015 at the High Line Hotel, which is a gorgeous venue you'd want to marvel at for hours...unless it was 110% humidity inside with no A/C. No matter how many cold flavored seltzer waters they handed out, my body was overheating and my little iPhone lens attachment kept fogging up, involuntarily adding a glamour filter. This collection is approachable and chic, but honestly, I've been enjoying it more from the comfort of my air-conditioned desk.

The Warholian centerpiece.

How is this guy surviving the heat?
Look out for man-stripes next spring.

Sonnet 155, or an Ode to Marine Layer Pajama Pants

Skinny jeans look hot but can be so tight.
Begone, muffin top! I want to unwind.
Post work, on weekends, I don’t want to fight.
Off with you! Let’s banish the clothes that bind.

Where to find some magic pants? Comfy too?
Not at the mall stores; let us not tempt fate.
Support local business—that’s what to do.
A-ha! They’re made here in the Golden State.

Marine Layer, I’m a fan of your tees,
But these soft pajama pants take the cake.
Wide leg, drawstring, jersey, navy—yes, please!
A better, softer pant one cannot make.

But, fifty-four bucks for these? Ahem, cough.
Friends, use code NISH for twenty percent off.

Two Sample Sales for West Coast Ladies

I've been missing New York a bit lately--it's easy to gloat during the winter, but now that it's spring (almost summer), Instagram is reminding me about all the good things I left behind. Like sample sale season. Oh, how I miss sample sales. They are few and far between on the West Coast, but when they come along, it's like Christmas. Here's what's on my calendar.

At the Gilt City Warehouse Sale in New York one year, a fellow shopper snatched a pair of knee-high Rag & Bone boots a millisecond ahead of me, resulting in a slo-mo "nooooooo" escaping my lips. I still think about those boots to this day. Will I find a better pair at this season's San Francisco sale? There's only one way to find out. This time around, prices are up to 90% off retail on clothes and accessories from designers like Helmut Lang, Prada, and John Varvatos; there will also be free cocktails, snacks, makeovers, and a DJ, because who wants to shop in silence, hungry and sober? The event runs Friday & Saturday; Friday is sold out, but Saturday is almost wide open; get your tickets here. (And if you aren't a Gilt City member, by all means, join here.)

For my friends down south in Los Angeles (hi, ladies!), there's a sale happening next weekend that I'm so excited about, I'm contemplating a weekend trip. It's Clare Vivier's first-ever sample sale, and I have no other details except that there will be clutches (favored by every fashion blogger known to mankind), messenger bags, duffels (my current bag of choice), and "more." It's June 7-8 from noon-5 at 3249 Casitas Avenue in Los Angeles. Think I can take an Uber?

Splendid Picks for Wine Country

I've gone to wine country the last three weekends in a row--it's one of my favorite things about living in San Francisco, and considering how much I freaking love it here, that's a bold statement. Anyway, dressing for wine country is almost as challenging as dressing for San Francisco weather (an art/science that probably warrants its own post), but after so many trips, I think I finally have it down. Here's my wine country uniform:

Bracelet 1  |  Bracelet 2  |  Bracelet 3  |  Dress  |  Crossbody bag  |  Raffia hat  |  Wedges (similar)

The centerpiece of this look, of course, is the red-hot Splendid maxi dress, which just so happens to be on sale at Vente Privee now through Friday at 9 a.m. EST. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the site, Vente Privee is the o.g. private flash sale site--it started in 2001 in France and now counts 21 million members across eight countries, including the U.S., where it debuted in 2011. I'm a fan because it has a lot of hard-to-find brands, their customer service is impeccable, and American Express cardholders get free shipping!) Splendid's knits are so soft, you'll never want to take them off (this dress is no exception), and while we're at it, here are more of my picks from the sale--prices are 50%-70% off retail!

As for my wine-country outfit pictured above, stay tuned to my Instagram feed to see it in action in Mendocino this weekend. Yep, back to wine country I go!

Spring Shopping Guide: Drawstring Bags

Just like Vanessa Williams, I'm--wait for it--saving the best for last in the ol' Spring Shopping Guide. (And if you guessed that I'm continuing the '90s theme with the #4 song of 1992 according to Billboard, gold star for you.) So I'm rounding things out with another '90s throwback, the drawstring bag. Last seen draped over the shoulders of Supermodels (think Linda, Christy, Naomi) before those black nylon Prada backpacks took over, drawstring bags--often closely related to bucket bags--have that perfect, elusive combination of luxe and effortless. Which is what every bag should have, shouldn't it?

Jerome Dreyfuss's bags are what I like to call quietly luxurious--they're not covered with flashy, easily recognizable logos, but they're incredibly well made, from supersoft, buttery leather and cool finishes. They also have cool names, like the Alain Punk bag, which sounds like some French '80s pop star. Even better than its name, however, is the adjustable strap, which goes from a crook-of-the-arm 4 inches to a shoulder-perfect 16 inches.

Speaking of cool finishes, Stella McCartney gives Jerome Dreyfuss a run for his money. Now, this drawstring bag is about half the size and not actual leather, however it's perfect for the weekend or, if you carry a light load, even for the weekdays--a bonus with drawstring bags is that they tend to hold a lot more than you'd think.

Speaking of which, Phillip Lim's Scout bag has made an appearance here before; last year, I opted not to get one, but that was before I learned to pare down. I like that the metal-edged corners give it a more structured, modern shape--it's the anti-drawsting-bag drawstring bag.

Which brings me to this season's It Bag and the reason for this entire post: the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. I have one, and it was not easy to procure--I was on three different waiting lists (one of which was expecting a shipment in July!!) but thankfully not for terribly long. The bag itself is pretty stiff, which is a good thing because it won't get all droopy, and I also expect it to age beautifully. Which, for the price (which is enough to be a splurge but not too much to break the bank), it should.

Along those lines but a bit more reasonably priced is Vince Camuto's Jill bag, a nice luggage color (also available in a hot red, among others) and a more squat shape, which is better for carrying higher up on the body, if that's what you prefer. The leather is also nice and smushy, saving you much breaking-in time.

Everything Elizabeth and James does is on-trend, but in a tasteful, mellow way. This Cynnie mini bucket bag gets the drawstring shape right, but then elevates it with that big, shiny zipper. I also like the two-strap option, as well as the not-huge scale. Restraint--it's a beautiful thing.

I like the two-tone look (as well as the chain strap) of this Topshop bag, which is inexplicably $68 and actually leather.  Side note: the Nordstrom here in SF has a somewhat edited Topshop department, which I enjoy shopping far more than any actual Topshop store. Discuss.

While this section is starting to sound like I Can't Believe It's Leather, this $90 Sole Society Montana bucket bag is also, in fact, leather. It's a bit on the floppy side and has that "I'm going to Coachella" vibe, but, hey, a leather bag for under $100 ain't bad.

If you want to have fun with this trend (and really, why shouldn't you), then Baggu's animal-print bucket bag is the way to go--especially now since it's on sale (I was originally going to feature it in the mid-priced section of this post). Even though it's animal print, it's pretty neutral, and more importantly, it's just a cool bag.

Spring Shopping Guide: Crop Tops

This spring's shopping guide has thus far been quite the trip down memory lane, so why stop now? Today, we're taking a slight detour into my neuroses. Now, when I was in high school, I thought I was absurdly fat. I weighed 127 pounds. I am 5' 7". I would give up carbohydrates, vodka, and maybe even online shopping if I could weigh that little as an adult. So, let's pause and take in some wise words from the patron saint of womanhood:

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”
--Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
As you can infer, I spent most of my adolescence covering myself up, so I pretty much missed out on crop tops first time around. Nor did I partake of the late '90s resurgence--I was in college at the time and carrying around quite the beer belly. So here I am again, confronted with the crop, and the question is, to bare or not to bare? The next time this trend comes around, I have a feeling I will be past my prime--literally and figuratively--and so it appears this season I will finally confront my fear of exposed midriff. As the kids these days say, YOLO.

It's important for crop tops to be snug, because you want them to stay in place when you raise your arms. And yet, sometimes you want a little volume on top, so this McQ crocodile-print top is perfect: it's snug at the waist, but the tiered front creates a flattering layered effect. In terms of crop tops, this is about as demure as it gets.

Not demure: this Herve Leger crop top, which looks like something a pre-Kanye Kim Kardashian would wear. I appreciate its unabashed trashiness; and yet, paired with a high-waisted, fuller skirt and maybe even tights, it could, like Kim K., clean up quite nicely. 

The key to wearing this year's crops (ok, got that pun out of the way) is to pair them with a high-waisted skirt, so you're exposing just a sliver of stomach. That way, you can make the above Herve Leger top, or this Yigal Azrouel scuba top, look slightly more demure. Think Kelly and Donna, not Britney and Christina. 

Speaking of which, I would not recommend wearing this Torn by Ronny Kobo Emma top as styled; however, I do like its '90s-minimalist striped look--it needs a stretchy pencil skirt and maybe some Doc Martens. 

While we're decade-hopping, Alice + Olivia's tweedy Elenore crop top looks almost '50s, but turn it around and there's a cool bit of colorblocking in back for a modern twist. (And, bonus--it's currently 25% off through 4/28 with code FRNFAM.) 

Also on sale is one of my favorites of the bunch, this Elizabeth and James dalmatian-print top, primarily because it has a rare boxier shape, which would allow me to wear something more slim-fitting on the bottom. And should this trend be fleeting, you could always layer it over a slim-fitting tank or dress down the road.

One of the first places I started seeing crop tops--a few seasons ago--was Zara. It's also one of the first places I'd go for something I'm unsure about; Zara's stuff tends to strike that perfect balance between trendiness and cost-effectiveness. That said, I like this asymmetric crop top because it's totally working that Calvin Klein vibe, but also because of the way the back dips down to elegantly cover up one's back fat.

Even though it's one of the simpler styles here, I am totally into this Rachel Rachel Roy cropped top. It reminds me of something the model being romanced by George Michael in one of his videos would wear. That or backup dancers in a rap video. Either way, can't lose. It would also make a lovely layering piece, which is probably what it will end up doing in my closet. 

There are so many crop tops on Nasty Gal, I could have written a post on their many different varieties. And while I'm not sure I sorted through every last one, I do think this striped top is one of my favorites. The boxy fit is a little more versatile, and the stripes manage to look somewhat classic and cool--qualities that one should always strive for, even whilst exposing one's midriff. 

Spring Shopping Guide: Wrap Skirts

Fact: I like skirts. I own quite a few of them. I prefer skirts to dresses, because you can make cooler outfits with them, and due to my freakishly short torso, they tend to fit me much better. I will wear pretty much any silhouette, although my favorite is a slight A-line, hitting a few inches above my knees. Skirts have ceded much territory to dresses in recent years--I get it, dresses are just easier--but the spring runways featured all manner of skirts, of which the dominant shape was the wrap. A twist on the A-line, the wrap (or in most cases, the faux wrap) has that nearly universally flattering shape, with the added benefit of one-false-move-and-it-comes-undone sexiness. And who doesn't love that?

People often ask me who's my favorite designer; my answer can change by the season, but Isabel Marant is always up there. When she makes simply nonchalantly sexy-looking stuff like this studded wrap skirt, I mean, how can you not love her? 

Another constant favorite: Rag & Bone. Everything they make is a cooler version of a classic. Case in point, their Edburg wrap skirt looks chic and versatile at first glance; take a closer look and you'll see that it's croc-embossed leather. Rag & Bone is opening their long-awaited San Francisco store soon, 5 blocks from my apartment. In the meantime, I am thinking about changing my middle name to Trouble. 

While we're playing favorites, another is Proenza Schouler, a label I particularly admire for its devotion to prints. Their wrap-effect skirt evokes butterfly wings both in pattern and in the fluttery way in which the panels fall. And if there's anything I love more than a miniskirt, it's an animal-print miniskirt. 

Considering it has wide horizontal stripes, this A.L.C. Campbell striped skirt shouldn't, in theory, be flattering. And yet the asymmetrical, angled way in which they fall across the hips has a devastatingly slimming effect. And in spite of its knee-covering length, I find the front slit rather sultry, in a Mrs. Robinson kind of way.

I have the luxury of living in a city where I can wear most of my clothes year-round, which means that even though it's spring, I'll get plenty of wear out of this Maison Scotch leather faux-wrap skirt, a strong contender to replace my current (much loved, stretched out) black leather mini. 

Of course, sometimes it's good to step out of one's boundaries. At first glance, this silk panel wrap skirt by the lovely and talented Misha Nonoo seems a bit conservative for my taste, but upon closer look, I love the dreamy print and the fact that a sheer fabric peeks out of the rather high front slits. Demure...and daring.

I love the Gatsby-esque Art Deco print on this Fairground architectural wrap mini; common sense tells me that a woman of my age should plan on wearing tights with this skirt, since the longest point is a mere 16 inches long. 

Asos, one of my favorite sources for disposable fashion trends that I tend not to actually dispose due to their awesomeness, has lots of wrap skirts, as one might imagine. My favorite is this sporty textured colorblock style, currently on sale for a mere $30. 

One of my favorite styles here, this Mango wrapped-waist skirt daringly combines two trends--the peplum and the wrap--into one, and yet it works, in a kind of origami-like way. I've been looking for a new white skirt to replace an old favorite (coincidentally, also from Mango); at $39.99, this one seems like a no-brainer.