Archive for January, 2009

Shopping Guide: Stylishly Professional Work Handbags

Q: I am a Wall Street Journal reader who is new to your site, which is fantastic. I am looking for a work handbag suitable for a 40+ professional–can you provide some recommendations that do not cost an arm and a leg or are worth the investment?

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Thanks to the "it bag" craze of the last few years, the price of handbags went through the roof.  But despite this rapid price inflation, great bags can still be had for reasonable prices.  As a rule, you get what you pay for; a high quality investment bag is generally going to last longer and wear better than a lower quality (but much more affordable) bag.  But it’s also important to note that price doesn’t always correlate neatly with quality. 

For a work handbag with maximum versatility, you’re going to want to select a good neutral colored leather (black, chocolate brown, cognac, etc) in a classic shape.  Avoid overt logos, candy colors, and overly trendy styles that will quickly date your bag.  Another consideration as you choose your handbag: the scale of the bag should complement your size.  If you’re petite, for example, we’d recommend opting for a smaller sized bag. 

Our $ Picks:
Pyramid Croco Tote | $49.99 (sale) at Nine West

Jessica Simpson Alibi Large Shopper | $69.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Laptop Tote | $69.99 (sale) at Nine West

Our $$ Picks:
Francesco Biasia Erica Tote | $149.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Ibiza Convertible Flight Tote | $158.40 (sale) at Hayden-Harnett

Mina Leather Satchel | $195 at Nine West

Olivia Harris Turnlock Flap Hobo | $209.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Our $$$ Picks:
Vanessa Bruno Lune 2 Leather Satchel | $869 at La Garçonne

Chloé Heloise Hobo Bag | $1,610 at Net-a-Porter

Have a great work handbag? Share your find with us in the comments!

6 comments January 15th, 2009

Pyramid Crocodile Clutch


Switch out your daytime satchel or work tote for this chic crocodile clutch for evening. The clutch will help to instantly make your day outfit more evening appropriate.

$29.99 (sale) at Nine West.

Add comment January 15th, 2009

Mens Shopping Guide: Seven Great Pieces Under $100

Black Signal Flag Watch | $85 at Nautica

Can you say classic…with a twist?  The black strap and silver case are nothing new, but the flags, in place of numbers or roman numerals, are a nice touch.

Cotton Cashmere Jerome Cardigan | $89 at Club Monaco (in stores only)

Cardigans are traditionally found in your grandfather’s closet, and perhaps rightly so.  But they were big amongst trendsetters in 2008, and they will stick around through 2009, maybe longer.  Here’s your chance to get a great one for a good price (especially considering that it’s part cashmere).  Slim, solid and dark, just the way I like them.

Pinstripe Hidden Pocket Shirt | $73 (sale) at Oak

Oak’s signature is to take a classic and add a twist.  Here, the store brand takes a simple pinstripe shirt and adds a patch pocket with an enclosure.  It’s a great casual buttondown to diversify your wardrobe.  After all, you can’t wear Steven Alan shirts every day.

Khadi Check Print Scarf| $99 (sale) at Barneys

Plaid is usually done best when it acts as a highlight to an outfit.  This scarf does just that.  Speaking of scarves, I love this statement scarf by Henrik Vibskov too, but it’s somewhat more than $100.

Cashmere Knit Tie | $78 (sale) at J Crew

Wool ties were a big Fall/Winter trend this year – and, I should say, they are a cold weather accessory; please don’t wear a wool tie during the summer.  At 2” at the widest point, it’s a little on the skinny side, so I’d suggest it as a night-out-on-the-town item, rather than a workwear piece.  2” too skinny for you?  This 3” pencil striped tie from J Crew is also wool and still looks fantastic.

Card Case | $105 (sale) at Paul Smith

Guys either love or hate the brilliant color of the Paul Smith stripes.  This card case, however, could appeal to both camps, as the stripes are a highlight, not the centerpiece, of the card holder.  And yeah yeah…it’s over $100.  But just barely.

Suit Hanger| 3 for $74.85 at The Hanger Project

What’s the use of having great suits if you can’t take great care of them?  These hangers will ensure that at least, the suit will maintain the shoulders, the one part of any jacket that even the best tailors may not be able to (or want to) fix.

2 comments January 14th, 2009

Shawl Collar Cardigan


You said Yes to Shawl Collars, and there’s still a couple more months of Winter to wear yours proudly. We love the long length of this cardigan and the two front patch pockets.

$29.99 (sale) at Gap.

1 comment January 14th, 2009

Q&A: How to Layer for Cold Weather Days

Q: I would love some advice on how to layer clothes.  I live in Boston so it is important to be able to dress for outside temperatures and be able to quickly adjust once inside.  I’m especially curious about layering with jackets and sweaters.

Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.

by Traci Tsai

A: Boston living is particularly extreme.  Outside, the winter weather can be brutally frigid,  and inside, the buildings tend to be highly overheated – so we feel your pain!

How do you keep warm in super cold weather? The key is to keep your core (e.g. your torso) warm.  If your core, head and feet are warm, your body will keep your extremities (arms and legs) warm too.  So—to keep warm in cold weather, you need lots of layers over your core, but you don’t need as many layers over your arms and legs.  This insight helps you stay warm without looking like you

The key to layer your clothes without looking bulky is alternating the length of your sleeves through the layers. Wearing a long sleeved sweater over a long sleeved shirt, with another long sleeved jacket on top, for example, can really bulk you up.  Here’s how to put together a chic layered cold weather outfit:

1.  Start with a solid base: a turtleneck sweater and a pair of jeans.  To give your waist some extra definition, try a belt over the sweater.  This waist definition is key to not looking bulky– especially if you’re wearing underlayers for extra warmth.
2.  Next, add one of my favorite layering elements: a puffer vest (preferably stuffed with down feathers). Down keeps your core very warm, and it gives you more options for your overcoat.
3.  Over the down vest, bundle up in a long wool (or wool cashmere) coat.  The wool coat will give you a more urban look than a more outdoorsy looking down coat—and it traps the heat generated by the down layer. As for warmth, the wool coat without the down layer would generally be less warm than a down coat. But by layering the down vest under the wool coat, you get the best of both worlds: the warmth of down, but the sleeker, more stylish look of wool.
4.  Accessorize for the cold.  180s earmuffs are a part of any stylish woman’s cold weather wardrobe.  Note that the faux fur lined hood on the puffer vest will also act as a hat/wind-blocker, which gives you an additional layer for your ears and head.

Style tip? If it’s really cold—or if you’re particularly sensitive to cold, you can also add a sleeveless silk thermal as your base layer.  For maximum warmth, wear a long sleeve silk thermal on top and silk long underwear under your jean).  Silk liner layers are ideal because they don’t add as much bulk as other underclothing.  Plus, silk’s a natural fabric, so it also breathes better than other synthetic fabrics.

Have a great tip about how to layer for cold weather days? Share it with us in the comments!

12 comments January 13th, 2009

Sponsored Post: Audrey Hepburn Print from Condé Nast


One of my favorite ways to glean fashion inspiration is to look towards a style icon of the past. What better style icon to look towards than the ever so graceful Audrey Hepburn? Cecil Beaton’s 1964 silhouette portrait of Audrey Hepburn showcases her distinctive elegance and self assurance.

You don’t need to head to the museum to find inspiration from such art world luminaries as Edward Steichen and Cecil Beaton. The Condé Nast Store makes over 100 years worth of fashion photography, fashion illustration, and fashion images from the company’s archives available for you to bring into your home. Discover gems from the archives of iconic magazines, from Vogue to Vanity Fair, House & Garden to Gourmet.

$180+ at The Condé Nast Store.

1 comment January 13th, 2009

You Said: No to Military Pants


ae-military-pant_011109We asked: Would you wear Military Pants?

You said:  No to Military Pants, with a 65% to 35% vote.

Style tip? While we don’t advocate camouflage pants as a part of your core wardrobe, we do recommend taking a cue from military men and keeping a pair of rugged casual pants on hand.  Not only are they appropriate for many daytime occasions, but they’re also handy for balancing out an overly feminine top. Pair your military pants with oversized sweaters for a chic outfit for running errands, with a ruffly top for lunch with the girls, and a blousy knit for a day of sightseeing on vacation.  

Next question: Shrunken blazers have been popular for the last few years, but what do you think about the opposite–the long, hip length blazer jacket?  Tell us, would you wear the Hip Length Blazer?  Cast your vote on the sidebar!

Pictured: AE Military Pant | $44.50 at American Eagle.

8 comments January 12th, 2009

Retro Short Sleeve Coat

Retro Short Sleeve Coat

A peter pan collar, oversized buttons, and a gathered waist make this short sleeved layering coat an adorable flavor of Mod. Pair the yellow coat with deep blue jeans to really make it pop.

$39 at Twelve by Twelve.

2 comments January 12th, 2009

Fall Winter Fashion Formula #1: Masculine Feminine Mix

Omiru Fall Winter Capsule Wardrobe: #1
Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.

We start our Fall Winter fashion formulas with a distinctly European chic look.  The juxtaposition of masculine and feminine elements make the look sophisticated, but with an edge.  Here’s how to get the look:

1. Start with a romantic drapey blouse juxtaposed against a rugged pair of military pants. 
2. Slip on a hip-length tailored blazer.  High armholes give the masculine lines of the blazer a flattering feminine touch. 
3. A buckled bootie sweetly mixes masculine and feminine elements, echoing the blouse and pants mix.
4. Draw attention with a standout accessory in a bright color.  Here, the eye is drawn to a lovely handbag in a deep crimson red.

How would you wear masculine and feminine elements?  Share your style with us in the comments!

6 comments January 9th, 2009

Belted Waterfall Jacket


Layer this ruffled jacket over a sweater and long sleeved top for Winter, and then pair it with a light top for Spring.

$99 (approx) at Topshop.

4 comments January 9th, 2009

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