What to wear with a drapey tunic

The wildfires are finally out in Napa and Sonoma, and so we decided to make a long-overdue trip up north for Sunday Wine Church, which is basically what I call going to wine country on a Sunday. There were a few blips—we were both hung over, we got a bit of a late start, and I had originally intended to wear a skirt, but all of a sudden it's fall in the Bay Area (and I am not complaining about that!), and so a last-minute improvisation was made.

Whenever I wear this top, I get a gazillion compliments. It's really soft and cozy, and it's pretty much the perfect thing to wear with skinny jeans or leggings. It's long enough to provide appropriate bum coverage, but the asymmetrical cut keeps things interesting. You can also wear it off the shoulder, or  higher up with a little bra-strap peekage. Layering it can be a little challenging—I want to try it next with a maxi-length cardigan—but overall, it's a great (and reasonable) three-season top.

Yes, I am wearing white jeans after Labor Day! And yes, that is an antiquated rule that you should ignore! (It's also something the department stores made up a long time ago to get people shopping in the fall, before the weather was really cool enough.) These are pretty stretchy, so they're ideal for wearing under a billowy top like this.

I love this jacket—I saw a girl wearing it on Polk Street in SF and chased her down to find out where she got it—but in retrospect, it's maybe a little too much for this outfit. See, even fashion bloggers make faux pas. Either way, it's one of my favorites, so expect to see it a bit more here.

I've had these boots forever, and thankfully Rag & Bone is still making them. They are really comfy, and the front has a little notch, which makes them more elongating for your legs, especially if you wear them with tights. I also find the shaft height easier to wear with pants—you don't get the ankle bunchiness that sometimes happens with higher boots.

This crossbody converts to a clutch, and I got it in my Zoe Report Box of Style (here's my post about why it's the only box subscription you need). Strangely, it's one of the few crossbody bags I own that doesn't hurt my back; a few weeks ago I took it to a wedding, so it's super versatile too. Speaking of the RZ Box, the sunglasses I'm wearing in all these photos are from last summer's box, and they're still one of my favorite pairs to this day.

When I go wine tasting, I always like to start the day with bubbles, and most of these photos were taken at Korbel Cellars, which is one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma. They do tours and tastings, but they also have a little café where you can order (very reasonable) wine by the glass and sit outside on the patio. We ended the day with friends at Hamel Family Wines, also in Sonoma, which is a newer—and totally gorgeous—spot. After the events of the last month, Sonoma definitely needs as much tourism love as it can get, so please visit as soon as you can!

OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People Grapevine Tunic (also in blush) || Free People military jacket || Rag & Bone frayed white jeans || Gigi New York python bag || Rag & Bone Harrow boots || Ombré scarf from street vendor in Italy (similar here) || YHF Los Angeles Cashton sunglasses 

Why you should be shopping at COS

COS is hands-down one of my favorite places to shop and I've featured their items in my last two outfit posts (the T-shirt dress and yellow top), so I thought now might be a good time to talk about why their clothes are so great for fortysomething women. But first, another look at my favorite T-shirt dress...

Once upon a time, COS only had stores in Europe. A mere months after I left NYC, they opened their first US store in Soho; they've since added stores in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., and a bunch of other cities, so if anyone from COS is reading this, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE open a store in San Francisco too! Fun fact: COS is owned by H&M, and it's where Rebekka Bay—who went on to work for Gap, Everlane, and now Uniqlo—made her name. Like H&M, COS's clothes and accessories are really reasonable; they are, however, pricier than H&M, but also use nicer fabrics and have more complicated details. Most importantly, they're geared toward a slightly older customer, so the cuts are a bit more generous, the fabrics thicker, and the finishes higher in quality. In other words, H&M is cheap and trendy; COS targets a more high-fashion customer, albeit one who is still on a budget.

My favorite thing at COS are the dresses, and I thought this draped jersey dress was incredibly flattering—and would be on a lot of different bodies—especially with its adjustable drawstring thing inside. It's also $99, which seems like a good deal to me. The color was a bit too orange on me, but if they make it in another color, I'm on it.

When I tried this dress on last month in L.A., I realized I tried the same one on in Dublin back in April; I think it's sold out on the website now, but this one is very similar. COS is great at making straight-cut shapes, which, as a short-waisted person, I appreciate. This one had a lot of volume in the back, which is an interesting design technique COS often uses.

In spite of the confused look on my face, I actually loved this ribbed sweater (the description says cable knit, but that's not quite accurate). The cut was really slim and sleek in spite of the thickness of the knit; I didn't buy it, but should have, and probably will next time. Also, another good point about COS is that I'm rarely between sizes—I'm wearing a small in the above photo and it fit perfectly.

This is an A-line wrap skirt that did not look quite A-line on me (it seemed more straight) but was still flattering nonetheless, and I thought the midi-maxi length was great too. Thankfully, I took this picture before I ate brunch.

This top is silk jersey—silk!—with a woven back, and it's still only $79! As I mentioned in Tuesday's post, I wouldn't normally wear this color (and COS definitely uses a lot of potentially polarizing ones), but I'm glad I took a chance, because it ended up being pretty flattering. I almost got this one but then...

I tried on this shirt-hem top and at $49, how could I say no? The upper part is knit and the lower part is woven, which gives it an interesting shape, and I truly have nothing like this in my closet. I've worn it a few times already and got a bunch of compliments, which I always love. And in case you missed it, here's how I styled it last weekend...

Look for more COS pieces in upcoming posts, and if you end up buying anything there, let me know in the comments below!

What to wear with bright yellow

I am a firm believer in trying new things. It doesn't have to be crazy—I will probably never jump out of a plane, for example—but how are you going to discover places, experiences, or items you unexpectedly love if you don't try?  Case in point: I was shopping at COS a few weeks ago and kept coming back to this bright yellow top. As a fair-skinned blonde, it's not a color that conventional wisdom would say looks good on me, but something just attracted me to it. The salesgirl, a random other woman in the fitting room, and my boyfriend all convinced me to buy it, so I did, and I've already received so many compliments on it. What can I say? Flattery will get you everywhere.

A blazer and jeans go together like a burger and cheese—it's a classic, crowd-pleasing combination that's nearly impossible to get wrong. The special sauce, however, is what you wear with them, and tops are probably the place where I get the most experimental. This top is much looser and flowy than what I'd usually wear under a blazer, but I like how the blazer makes it appear more streamlined. By the way, if you haven't already invested in a classic black boyfriend blazer, you should. It's worth every cent.

With this pair of jeans, Frame has slowly won me over as my denim brand of choice. They have a slightly higher rise than what I'm used to, and they're super stretchy yet substantial, so I feel very held in but comfy. The hem is longer in back, too, which creates a flattering line and lets you show off your shoes.

Speaking of shoes, these shoes are kind of crazy, I know. Sometimes they're just too much look. I think they work best with jeans, but sometimes I wear them with an LBD. They are, believe it or not, actually pretty comfortable, which is good, because they're quite an investment.

If my top is the special sauce in my hamburger outfit (I know, I'm dragging out this metaphor, but bear with me), my accessories are the fun toppings, like sautéed mushrooms or avocado. Sometimes they're too much and you have to take them out, but other times they kind of blow your mind. You wouldn't think cheetah and bright yellow would go together...and yet they do. By the way, this bag is real haircalf and is only $45. Yes, you need it. It's the avocado in your outfit.

OUTFIT DETAILS: Theyskens' Theory blazer (similar here) || COS top || Frame Le High Straight jeans || Valentino Rockstud pumps || BP leopard pouch || Karen Walker sunglasses || Stella & Dot Marcell necklace || Catbird mignon ring, X ring, signet ring || Hermès Clic H bracelet, Rachel Zoe tassel bracelet (similar here)

How to make a barrel-aged Negroni

My love of wine is well documented, but I also love cocktails, and in my opinion, the best cocktail on the planet is the Negroni. I love Negronis so much that when I was in Florence, Italy a few years ago, I insisted on making a pilgrimage to their birthplace, Caffè Giacosa. Here is a picture of me literally in heaven.

A Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, and like many spirit-heavy cocktails, it tastes even better if it's been aged in an oak barrel. Basically, this allows the ingredients to mellow out and absorb a bit of smokiness from the wood, resulting in an incredibly smooth, delicious cocktail—and since you'll decant it from the barrel, you'll have a carafe of pre-mixed Negronis ready to drink at any time! Here's how to do it. 

Step 1: prep your barrel
I have a two-liter barrel from Tuthilltown Spirits (it was one of my favorite Christmas presents ever, after the Barbie townhouse). Yours will likely come with some sort of preparation instructions—I had to fill mine with hot water and let it sit for a day or two to cure the wood so it's airtight. You don't want to lose any of that precious Negroni to leakage! This may make a bit of a mess (mine leaked at first while it was curing), but the good news is you only have to do it once.

Step 2: funnel your ingredients
You want a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, so figure out how much that is, then pour everything into your barrel through a funnel (again, you don't want to lose any precious ingredients). One thing to note: alcohol naturally evaporates about 2% during this barrel-aging process. It's called the angel's share, and it's the small price you pay for the tastiness that's about to come.

Step 3: wait...and taste
Depending on the size of your barrel, you'll want to age your Negroni for at least 4 weeks (which is what I do). My instructions recommend giving the barrel a quarter turn once a week, which is also a good time to check in on your progress with a little taste test. You'll notice week over week that the color gets lighter—from a deep red to more of a rusty orange—and the flavor gets smoother and richer. Then, when you can't wait any longer...

Step 4: decant your barrel
I've noticed several bars pouring Negronis straight from the barrel, which may work if you're going through them at high volume, but I advise decanting yours into a glass pitcher, so that your Negroni doesn't become too smooth and smoky. Also, that way you can start aging your next batch! I advise pouring through a fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter to trap any wood particles that may have loosened. No one wants a Negroni garnished with a splinter.

Step 5: enjoy! 
The best part is that I can walk in the door from work and have a delicious cocktail in my hand in under 30 seconds, because some days you need that. It's also great for nights when you just want one drink but don't want to open an entire bottle of wine. And, did I mention how delicious they are? Cheers to that!

What to wear with a T-shirt dress

Since this is a blog geared toward women of a certain age, I've had a few requests for postpartum-friendly outfits. I haven't personally been in that situation, but my weight has certainly fluctuated over the years, and I feel you. So here's one of my comfiest outfits; these pictures were taken on a Sunday—and I pretty much live in loose-fitting dresses on the weekend—but I added a few dressed-up elements, so you can wear this look to work or wherever the week takes you.

In this case, I couldn't go to Sunday Wine Church because of the fires up in Northern California, so instead I went to the next-best place, Grace Cathedral, which sits at the top of one of my favorite areas of the city, Nob Hill. This part of town is quite fancy—it houses the Fairmont, Intercontinental, and Scarlet Huntington Hotels, as well as some of the more tony high-rise apartment buildings in San Francisco—and on a clear day, it has amazing views. The park across the street also has amazing dog-watching.

This dress is from one of my favorite stores, COS, which is owned by H&M and until a few years ago only had locations in Europe (they're now in NYC and LA with more to come). COS is basically a Gen X woman's dream: the clothes are artfully draped, well tailored, generously cut, and quite affordable—most items are under $200. Expect to see a lot of pieces from them here. As for this dress, it's basically like a nightgown—it's probably one of the most comfortable things I own. (I'm wearing a medium and probably should have gone with a small, but alas.) It's also under $50!

Of course, the key to not looking like you're wearing pajamas is to throw a blazer over it. As you may have guessed, I own quite a few blazers; they make me feel instantly pulled together, and a well-cut one really does wonders for your look. This one is actually knit, like a sweatshirt, and so not only does it make me look polished, it too is incredibly comfortable. Double win!

Want to hear what else is comfortable? These boots! Now, they are an investment (I bought mine with my tax return last year), but you can wear them with literally everything—jeans, trousers, skirts, shorts—and they just completely step up your look. Also, I've gotten compliments on them from so many people, from TSA agents to my friend's retired schoolteacher mom. If you're considering buying a pair (and you should!), just note that they run a full size small. I sized down and still had room for insoles (making them extra extra comfy).

This bag isn't comfy per se, but I've had it for ages (if you look closely, you can probably see a few dangling sequins), and it's great for running errands on the weekend because you can just throw everything in it. I use it for traveling a lot too, but I'm looking for something a little bigger, with a zipper.

I work for a jewelry company and the weekends are my time to wear OPJ—other people's jewelry—so these are some of my favorite pieces. The screw cuff was a self-treat a few years ago when I got a big promotion; I call it the poor woman's Cartier Love bracelet. ;)

Back to Sunday Wine Church, I hope to be able to visit my favorite Napa and Sonoma wineries soon; it seems like most of them are reopening this week. But in the meantime, I'm channeling my dollars to the North Bay Fire Relief, as 100% of the proceeds will go to fire victims in Northern California. If you have anything to spare, I'd encourage you to donate as well—as signs spotted in Sonoma say, the love in the air is thicker than the smoke. 

OUTFIT DETAILS: COS striped dress || Topshop jersey blazer || Chloé Susanna boots (in gold here) || Vanessa Bruno sequin tote || Giles & Brother Archer cuff || Miansai screw cuff  || Catbird mignon ring || La Soula rings via the Zoe Report Box of Style || Stella & Dot Luna pendant || Quay Australia Odin sunglasses 

Top 5 trends for fall 2017

While it officially became autumn almost a month ago, nearly every region in the country has been plagued by random heat waves and Indian summers because global warming. Hopefully it's starting to feel like fall wherever you are—San Francisco is finally getting cooler in the mornings, which is how I know the seasons are changing (yes, believe it or not, we do actually have seasons here). That also means it's time to shop for new fall clothes and accessories. Here are my five favorite trends for fall 2017, plus a bunch of options for every budget.

Plaid boyfriend blazer
At least some credit goes to Tibi for showing this look on the runway, but there's something quintessentially autumnal about a plaid blazer. This season's take is all about a slightly oversized boyfriend silhouette with a black-and-white glen plaid. I found mine at Zara, and it's nearly sold out,  but there are a ton other great options out there.

The "editorial" version of this trend is to wear it head to toe, which is tricky unless you're buying all of your outfit from the same designer—and who does that anyway? Plus, you kind of look like you're playing the devil in a movie where the costume budget is not so great. A way more realistic way to wear red is just a piece at a time, as I've done in several of my recent outfit posts.

Pleated midi skirt
There are about a gazillion pleated midi skirts out there now, and I want all of them, because they're incredibly flattering and so easy to wear. Granted, I'm a skirt person, but even if you aren't, this one is totally worth a try.

Zara pleated skirt (sold out in green), $69.90

Track pants
My favorite take on this trend is like if the brainiac and the jock got together and had a baby: sleek and tailored, but fun and flashy too. A little contrast stripe on the side gives you majorly elongated legs, and the slouchier the fit, the more comfy the pant. It's a winner! (Sorry, had to attempt a lame sports pun there.)

Pearl shoes
These are not your grandmother's pearls...because they're on your feet, which is an unconventional place to put them, but a fun one at that. You can find pearls on everything from a subtle heel of a boot to a more outré allover encrusted mule—there is literally something for everyone.

What to wear with track pants

Big surprise, I was never a jock. I was never on any teams, so aside from my P.E. uniform, I didn't grow up wearing warmups or jerseys or any of the associated gear. I have been admittedly slow to embrace sneakers. But living on the West Coast, where all things sporty and casual reign, I've found bits of athleisure seeping into my wardrobe. Sometimes I even wear my workout clothes to brunch (the former East Coaster in me is dying of shame, trust me). But, you can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New Yorker out of the girl. Which is why I was happy to find these track pants at Zara (I wrote about them here). They are equal parts sophisticated and sporty, and I have a feeling I'm going to be living in them for the rest of the season.

Part of what makes these pants so great is the cut—they're very fluid, like a trouser, with a wider, straight leg. I love skinny jeans and leggings as much as the next girl, but there is something so flattering about a proper trouser. The contrast stripe along the outseam helps elongate the legs even more. I mean...

The pants have sporty details, like zip pockets and an elastic waistband, so they can definitely dress down, but I like the contrast of wearing them with something more proper, like this bright tweed jacket.

Normally I'd not go so matchy-matchy with my accessories, but red is having a moment for fall, and I'll take any excuse I can get to carry my Il Bisonte bag. I bought it in Florence three years ago and it's made of that soft, vegetable-tanned leather that just gets better with age. Plus, it's the perfect size—it holds everything you need without overwhelming you.

Shoes can also be a little tricky with wide-leg pants; you'll need a longer, pointier toe to peek out from the hem, so you don't look like Gumby.

But really, the best thing about these pants is how comfortable they are. I know that's a dirty word in fashion, but shhh, it will be our little secret.

OUTFIT DETAILS: Gap jacket (similar here on sale!) || Proenza Schouler tee || Zara side stripe trousers || Il Bisonte bag || All Black pumps (similar here) || Stella & Dot Luna Pendant and Abundance necklace || Quay Australia Odin sunglasses