Monday, August 31, 2009

Glam Puffer Coat

We had some technical difficulties and could not post the Ann Taylor's glam puffer coat referred to in my "Haute Stuff" entry. Thanks to Michelle Longo of Ann Taylor, she sent a great image and I want you all to see it. Your wardrobe is incomplete without this coat!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Holiday/Resort: Looking Ahead

As I sit here typing away in the unbearable humidity of an August summer, naturally, my thoughts are turning to Holiday and resort dressing. Ah, the sacrifices I go through for your benefit. Listen, pretty soon I’ll be checking out the Spring fashion shows in and around Bryant Park. While it’s too soon to concern yourself (unless you regularly make a habit of planning your wardrobe that far ahead), with next year’s stuff, lets concentrate on more immediate dressing. Before you know it, these resources will be in store around October, November.

While I did schlep around and about the trade shows and attended various press previews, I’ve broken it down to a couple of my personal favorite retailers and designer collections that I feel offer the most bang for the fashion buck.

Numero uno on my list has to be Talbots! Yes, you heard me, Talbots! If you’re thinking that this is the same old fuddy-duddy retailer, well, guess what, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Not only are the offerings a lot more fashion forward thanks to a very savvy design team, the boutiques themselves have gotten a fresh makeover. If the store in your area hasn’t gotten updated yet, give it time, the powers that be are working on it.

Now about the extensive merchandise. Personally, I’d opt for the black satin belted trench coat (also available in sapphire) and a stretch satin twist neck sheath. Both items will take you anywhere for many years to come. At $189 and $179 respectively, these are a steal at more than twice the price.

Wear it again, Sam!
Casablanca Never Looked So Chic!

If you have the guts to wear white in the city (personally I’m a slob), check out Talbots’ luxe ivory hidden placket coat. It will set you back $499, not to mention the dry cleaning bills, but the wow factor alone could be worth springing for it. As far as sportswear pieces go I love the $79. bias cut tartan plaid silk cowl neck blouse and the adorably preppy (very Ralph) shrunken navy blazer in basketweave wool, nicely detailed with gold crest buttons for $189.

Only the Brave Wear White in NYC!

Talbots didn’t neglect the accessory area either. Personally, I want the ivory faux fur toque hat especially when it’s accessorized with a crystal snowflake brooch. The hat’s $39 and the pin, $69. If you’re feeling generous, you might want to consider giving your best bud a pair of glamorous rhinestone buckled hostess slippers in platinum… or keep them for yourself. Either way, they’re a terrific buy at $99.

Can't Toque That!

Love Ann Taylor but want to get the same look at even better prices? The answer is Loft, the brand’s more moderate sister line. While fall looked good, holiday looks even better. Want to add a little sparkle to your wardrobe, look no further than the sleeveless gold sequin tank. At $59.50 it’s a steal. Don’t think that this will only work for late day,. I’m here to tell you that you can layer this item over a black or cream color turtleneck and slip it under a suit etc. The possibilities are endless so don’t limit yourself. Definitely on the cozy, casual side is the Loft’s snuggly grey, ¾ length, waffle weave cardigan with toggle closure. The price here is $108. I also love the slim metallic leopard jacquard skirt at $89.50 paired with the $49.50 cascading ruffled shell. I have to admit, the Loft did an amazing job with accessories for holiday, especially the long gunmetal jet knotted necklace ($49.50), the adorable feather trimmed headband ($18.50) and faux fur neckwarmer ($29.50). If you want to be a sport give a pair of jewel trimmed grey knit ballet flats that will run you a measly $24.59. Here’s the thing, both of these retailers offer on the money looks for a lot less than you’d pay for a brand that’s spending a small fortune to advertise in Vogue and other fashion mags.

As I said in the beginning of this blog, I checked out some of the designers that showed holiday and resort collections at the trade shows. While it’s no fun to slog through miles and miles of booths to find great lines I did narrow things down to a few designers that I think you should check out when they hit the stores. Style, quality and price were my key priorities. Two were diffusion lines and the other a nicely styled collection from an up and coming designer whose background included stints as part of the design team at Prada and Gucci. Not too shabby!

By now you must be aware of Tracy Reese. Her collections cater to the girly-girl in all of us. Well, if you want that pretty look at a more affordable price range check out her Plenty collection. For holiday (which starts shipping to stores in Sept), there are some fabulous clothes, from the not so basic black dotted lace full skirted “little frock” (which should retail for about $295.) boat-neck tee and full skirt, to a magnificent embroidered wool “Cossack”coat in ivory or black wool. If you only buy one coat this season get this beauty. Suggested retail price is $325 and it’s a bargain at twice the price. You will definitely make a fashion statement in this number. If you feel that you simply must get in on the wide ‘80s shoulder trend (think Rihanna at the Met Costume gala) opt instead for a much more wearable version with Plenty’s draped shoulder pocket tee in printed jersey. It’s cute, trendy and a only $85. The tee shirt dress version will go for $125.

Moving on to resort we check out Adam by Adam Lippes who is already on every fashionista’s radar. The line will hit the stores in November so you might want to cut back on Xmas gifts and treat yourself instead. I love his perfect little stretch cotton deep V-neck cinched waist sheath in black, white, citron or cloud. This will set you back $325. But it will never go out of style. Upping the price to
$495 will get you a gorgeous long satin chiffon dress with back loop detail in the most glorious water garden print. Another charming number is the rope print chiffon gathered tank dress with self belt in dreamy shades of milk/grey and will retail for $395. While I do love Adam’s separates I still have to say that his dresses while not cheap offer more value and fashion for the money unless you have $225 to throw away on a pair of draped shorts that will only work on 18 year old stick thin models.

Demoiselle is a brand you’ve probably never heard of – I certainly haven’t. Finding this hidden gem in the vast recesses of the Moda trade show made my trek worthwhile. The collection’s styling had all the earmarks of a sophisticated designer’s hand at work, quality craftsmanship, trendy (but not too) styling and best of all very friendly prices. The resort/spring line is extensive so I won’t bore you with every item, just the highlights. Starting with a cute dotted cotton crop jacket, I moved on to an abstract print jersey skirt, cotton blk/white bold check sundress and ended with the knockout cotton/metal blend db belted ombre trench coat that shaded from white to gray. Everything in the collection will run you about $100 give or take a few bucks.

Coming up, my report on Steven Burrows and his fabulous resort collection!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Haute Stuff

Who can’t use a little pick me up now and then? If like the rest of us you’ve been saving those pennies, now is the time to indulge a little. I’ve found some terrific items that lean towards more of the “couture” rather than “crap” price points and everything I’ve singled out offers great value for money. My choices run the seasonal gamut, from summer right through holiday. Happy shopping.

Now that Henri Bendel’s focus is strictly on accessories be sure to check out their latest find - Tuccia DiCapri’s gorgeous custom made sandals. What makes this line interesting is the fact that customers can practically design their own sandals, by style, color and heel height, and they’ll be ready in 30 minutes! The company’s founders traveled to Capri to study the ancient art under one of Italy’s foremost families of shoemakers. While the prices are pretty steep (they range from $168 - $408) just sliding you feet into one of these beautifully crafted sandals will take you back to those golden days spent on Capri, St. Tropez or St. Barts…now all you need is a yacht.

The collection will be available until September so if you’ve got the creative urge, this is your chance. Bendel’s biz has been pretty brisk. For more info, go to

Now this tiny Upper East Side boutique at 1324 Lexington Avenue came as quite a surprise. I spotted some of the most unique vintage bakelite and designer jewelry items at Ms. Montage. While the shop also offers a well edited RTW selection, it’s the unique bracelets that should have you running uptown. While prices can run into the hundreds for truly special pieces, there are some very affordable ones as well. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Italian costume jewelry designer Angela Caputi’s entire collection. For more info on what’s new and noteworthy, call the boutique’s helpful staff at 212 722-1077 or email

Continuing in its quest to help find a cure for breast cancer, Bloomingdale’s has put together a showcase for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. There will be special events, new vendors and special custom publications held in-store. I recently had a first hand peek at some of the terrific merchandise that will be offered and I’d have to give thumbs up to the full size umbrella that’s a steal at $12. It has a chic, black exterior piped in pink and a pretty pink solar system design on the inside by noted illustrator, Marisa Acocella Marchetto.

Guaranteed To Keep Your Hair Stardust Free

Twenty bucks will get you a chicly (what else?) designed pink pony water bottle from Ralph Laure. It’s exclusive to Bloomies and features single wall stainless steel construction, a screw top lid and a carabiner for portability. It can hold 24 oz. of fancy-schmancy designer water or good old NY tap.

One of the most fabulous items I noted during the store’s holiday press preview, was Nespresso’s sleek and compact coffee maker, the C110. It was conceived to appeal to both coffee brewing neophytes and lovers of retro-modern design. It’s available in steel gray and fabulous fire engine red. For a couple of hundred bucks you can enjoy the perfect cup of espresso any time you want! Remember, the holiday stuff won’t be available for a couple of months so just be patient. To shop online, visit

Roberta Roller Rabbit by Roberta Freymann just happens to be one of the cutest (and chicest in a low key, sort of way) boutiques on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. There are also satellite stores in East Hampton, South Hampton and Brentwood, California. They carry a full range of products for the home, as well as apparel and accessories in unique prints, textures and colors (think a combination of Kate Hudson meets Talitha Getty as the ideal customer). As Ms. Freymann puts it, “our stores are a global shopping destination.” While I’d be perfectly happy to indulge in anything on offer for summer, it’s the holiday stuff that had me drooling, especially the olive “Lakme Kurta” (that’s tunic to you) for $295. This little number worn over skinny pants will take you anywhere all season long for years to come as will the python box clutch for a measly $95. Last but by no means least are Roberta’s GORGEOUS chunky jeweled necklaces. Forget Prada, these are a hell of a lot better looking at a fraction of the price. Personally I’d happily kill for the “Tamika.” It’s worth every penny of the $300 price tag. If you want to make your friends green with envy, this is the one to buy. Check out the company’s new website, By the way, Roberta Roller rabbit is a famous Indian fairy tale. Who knew?

By now you’ve gathered that I’m a big fan of the “new” Ann Taylor so it won’t come as much of a surprise that I also loved their holiday collection. While I’m not going to go on and on about the whole line I definitely think you should invest $185 in a bright red “Glam Puffer Coat.” It’s really more of a ¾ topper with stand up neckline and chic styling that will easily segue from day to night, it’s that versatile.

If you really must consider buying someone else a gift, go for the chunky cabled hand knit cardigan in gray, unexpectedly detailed with a row of delicate crystal buttons – or keep it for yourself. It’s gonna be $185 so you might want to re-think the whole gift business! Ann Taylor has stores all over so just keep checking their website for updates.

That’s all for now, more Holiday news coming up, Happy shopping, C&C.

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row