Monday, May 31, 2010

For the Love of Shoes (Nordstrom Designer Sale, Starting June 2nd)

It seems appropriate to me that the week following the premiere of Sex and the City 2, Nordstrom holds its designer sale.  I think Carrie Bradshaw may have single-handedly elevated the designer shoemaker to mainstream consciousness and awareness, making Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik household names. This is not to say that said households actually contain these shoes.  Just that we know of them and can, in passing, speak of and even aspire to them.  As always, if you're scouting for some designer goods, it helps when there's a sale.  Now, mind you, this sale is not for the faint of heart.  A 40% reduction (and that's what we'll be seeing with the sale that starts this Wednesday, June 2nd) on designer goods takes the edge off, but there's still a fair amount of sticker shock.  Still, if you've been craving designer clothing, handbags, and shoes, then this is one of the ways to do it.  Kelly was nice enough to let me take a peek at the shoes so that we could all have fun looking them over.  And when I say, shoes, I mean shoes.  

**Just a note - Nordstrom doesn't have most of these shoes on its website, so I've included links to other stores.  The 40% price reduction applies at Nordy's only, as far as I know.

These are Yves Saint Laurent's Carolina Pump ($775, before discount).  They're a wonderful pale gray color, and when I put them on, Kelly commented that they went really well with the Night Skating top's gray-white flecks.  See?  If I had these, I could wear them every time I wear this top!  (I kid, I kid...but sigh, how gorgeous are they?)  These shoes not only look fabulous, they feel fabulous too!  A seemingly impossible feat, considering the 5" heel with 1" platform.  And incredibly, this was the case with all the shoes I tried on this round.  Who would think that shoes this high have any business being comfortable?  When I asked Kelly, she laughed and replied, "Honey, for $775, they should be coming with a foot rub."  No doubt.

The next pair Kelly pulled were a pair of Pradas - Ruched Platform Slides, ($595 before discount) in a delightful orange color.  How great would these be for the summer?

Again, these shoes were mind-bogglingly comfy.  Of course, these aren't as steep as the YSLs - there's a 4.25" inch heel, with a 1.25" platform, giving you just 3 inches of lift.  Still, it was an exceptionally comfortable 3 inches.  Now, these shoes fall under the "If I'm going to blow $300 on Pradas, they're going to be super cute and fun!"-school of thought.  You know, shoes that you pull out just a handful to a dozen times a year, for special outfits and occasions.  In case you follow the school of thought that believes shoes this expensive should be investment pieces that work for you, skip to the next pair...  

These have got to be the most perfect pair of little black (Prada!) sling-back heels ever.  They have a modest heel (maybe 2.5"?) and are guaranteed to be one of the workhorses of any wardrobe.  I didn't catch the price on these, but I'm going to guess they range somewhere between $500 and $595, before discount.  I thought seriously about these, when I had them on.  After all, they're so practical...

Yes, that's right, practical and pretty.  Can you ask for anything more?  Apparently you can.  If you look at the photo below left, I'm wearing the Prada slingbacks.  But if you look at the photos to the right of the slingback-photo, you'll see I'm wearing a totally different species of shoe...

These are Lanvin's Quilted Chain Anklet Pumps ($1,183(!) before discount).  And seriously, this might sound a little crazy, but they took my breath away.  I think these were, hands down, my favorite Outrageously-Fabulous-Designer-Shoe that I tried on.  Sadly, they were also the most Outrageously-Priced-Designer-Shoe I tried on as well.  But let me tell you all about this amazing shoe.  It's got a 4.75" heel, with a 0.5" stacked, set-under platform, which means you're still dealing with a 4.25" heel.  But wow!  I couldn't believe how not-painful these shoes were!  Albeit, I am fairly accustomed to wearing heels - those Seychelles I'm always running around in are a 3" heel - but these, which are quite possibly some of the highest heels I've ever had on, were positively comfy!  I know, it sounds insane, right?  But honest to goodness, I walked back and forth in them, and stood in front of a mirror for quite some time, just admiring them, and the balls of my feet didn't even whimper.  Also - these shoes are totally more than meets the eye (Transformers).  The chain - while being undoubtedly fierce (see photo, above center and below left) - can be a bit overwhelming for most occasions.  It comes off!  There's a little lobster clasp on each one, and they can be undone and then just slide right out of the little leather loop on the back of the shoe, and voila!  You have really cute, quilted anklet pumps(see photo, above right)!  They're ready to go for work or even church (I said this to Kelly, while playing with these, and she laughed out loud at my antics).  I even found that I could connect the two chains together, to make a necklace, or wrap them around my wrists as a bracelet.  Which led Kelly to laughingly point out that the price was actually encompassing two pairs of shoes, a necklace and two bracelets.  


What I really love about these shoes is their dual personality - the quilted leather and the rounded toe are so demure, and the ankle-strap gives the shoe a dainty, ballerina-esque feel.  But then you angle your foot out,  and you've got that mad-sexy stiletto heel - and if you want, a heavy chain!  Sigh...These shoes rock so hard. 

This next pair are Jimmy Choo's  Phyllis Espadrilles ($375, before discount) in the Fuschia Patent.  I really really liked these shoes, and the more I look at these photos, the more I like them.  I already have the Phoenix Espadrille, in the Nude Patent, so there's really no way I can justify these, but I adore the color and I know it's probably not necessary to repeat myself, but again, I can vouch for the comfort of these shoes.  I've walked in the Phoenix espadrilles (the cousin of the Phyllis) for hours and hours, and been just fine at the end of the day.  I can only imagine these would be very much the same.  Such a great summer shoe, and at 40% off, so tempting...

You can't really talk about Jimmy Choos and Pradas without mentioning Manolo Blahnik.  These little gold CrissCross Slides ($595 before discount) are very sweet and pretty, but I actually found them underwhelming after all those that came previously.  Still, they're probably incredibly versatile, and with the much lower heel (maybe 2"?), very comfortable.

These are, of course, just a very few examples of what will be available at the Designer Sale.  It is currently being presold and there are limited quantities, so if you're interested in these things, make sure you go in and ask a shoe sales associate or your Personal Stylist to help you find what you're looking for (e.g. pumps, flats, or slides, etc.).  Happy shopping!

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Waves...

Sometimes I think I have a problem with impulse control.

I had one of those gasp-so-loud-people-turn-to-ask-you-what's-wrong moments when I laid my eyes on the Count the Waves Dress on Roxy's June catalog preview post last week. In fact, my scheming brain immediately started thinking of things I could return so that I could buy it.

It's weird, because it's not as if there weren't other pretty new arrivals in the latest catalog. I'm fairly certain the Graces Tank will be mine by month's end. (which is totally okay, right? I mean, I think I must have at least like 80,000 skirts I can pair that ruffly puppy with...) And I've also got some serious Field Game Cardigan on the brain, in grey.

But I found myself with a super itchy trigger finger when it came to this dress.

Not surprisingly, the dress hadn't yet hit the Newport Beach Anthropologie when I went in. However, the beautiful Ashley cheerfully informed me that I could place an order for the dress in the store and have it sent to my house, and they would waive the shipping for me. This was before the announcement of free shipping through the summer, so you can imagine I was pretty darn giddy.

So, what does one do, when they're about to commit retail debauchery?

Drag your friend down with you in flames, of course.

Besides, reviews are always so much more fun when they're side-by-side, aren't they?

Count the Waves Dress ($148)

(pardon the wrinkles, this was straight from the box!)

For reference, I'm wearing the S and Carol is wearing the XS. Overall I'd say the fit is TTS, but keep in mind it's a pullover style. The skirt was a little tighter than I thought it was going to be, but that might just be because I have some serious hips. Once it's on it's plenty comfortable. The armholes are a teeny bit big, but not a dealbreaker for me.

Carol, solo:

Shown with Seychelles "She's Got the Moves" Heels

Carol here: These are obviously not the correct shoes to wear with this dress - I was wearing them with my OOTD (below), so that's why I've got them on, sorry! No worries, though - I've got just the shoes for this dress! Kathryn was the one to point this dress out to me, actually, as I was working the day Roxy posted her June catalog post, and hadn't had a chance to read updated blog posts. I also gasped, when I opened the link. You see, I missed out on the Bold Boutonniere and have been searching for it in vain for some time. Kathryn and I had also missed out on the Horizon Line dress as well. This dress sort of fills the gap for both of those dresses. When Kathryn called me to let me know that we could order the dress immediately, it only took me a heartbeat to agree. And I have to say, I don't regret it for a second. This dress is that great. ^_^

And here's me, solo:

And here it is, with the Snakebite Belt over it:

Shown with Tory Burch Miller Thongs in Black

One of the reasons I was quick to decide I wanted this dress was because I felt it would be a good transitional piece. The skirt is a double-faced rayon which I think would work for summer as well as fall. And I just love the detailing on the skirt, from the scalloped hem to the white topstitching. (I am a sucker for topstitching!) And pockets! Gotta love my pockets!

A look for when the season turns colder:

Shown with:
Banana Republic Cardigan (which is almost exactly like the J.Crew's Jackie)
Snakebite Belt in Black
Lela Rose for Payless Heels (pretty option here)

I could easily see wearing this dress with tights, too.

A happy impulse purchase, made happier because it's shared with a friend.

Now here's Carol's OOTD, which I insisted we blog. She kept telling me her outfit wasn't worth blogging, but I took one look at her bag, her shoes and her necklace and I told her it was going on the blog. Isn't she cute???

Seriously. Check out her fabulous handbag.

Carol: Haha - Kathryn bullied me into taking this picture - I honestly didn't think it was much to speak of, and not really photo-worthy, but here it is. This is a "running after the kids all day while going from my in-laws to my parents' to my sister's houses while visiting the OC" look. It's very comfy and totally machine-washable, so yes...easy-peasy Mom-look. Not particularly glamorous, but it does the job.

Shirt: SuperDry plaid shirt, Nordstrom (winter 2009, similar here and here)
Tee: Gap Body scoop neck layering tee (old - 2007? Similar here and here)
Pants: Denim Minnie, J. Crew
Shoes: Seychelles She's Got the Moves, Nordstrom
Necklace: Oh, Hello Friend
Bag: Just Cavalli Perforated Rosette Tote,

***Just a quick note - we have it from a reliable source (a Fashion Valley Anthro employee) that there will be more markdowns this coming Thursday.  It looks like Anthropologie might be trying to move their remaining winter/spring merchandise to make room for all the new summer goodies.  I can't wait to see what hits the sale racks, and at the same time, can't bear to see what hits the sale racks.  I think I'm good for now, but heaven knows, when something goes on sale....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Talent with a Capital T (Sharing Pretty Things)

There are lots of people in the world, born with talent.  It's true.  They're out there, by the hundreds of thousands.  People who have some aptitude or propensity to excel in some small or great measure at something - vocal music, instrumental music, art, writing, organizing, charming others, doing math, navigating through wilderness, woodworking, stamping, papercrafts, jewelry-making, designing, assembling super cute outfits.  You get my drift.  I had a music director when I was younger, who told me that there was no such thing as talent.  That there was only how much or little someone was willing to practice something.

This is just plain false, and I don't know if she was telling me that because she didn't want me to skate by, or because she really believed it.  I know there is talent.  I've seen it in the facility with which someone picks up a horn and makes it sing, in the way someone takes colors and materials and a space and transforms a formerly boring but serviceable room into a show place.  I've seen it in the way someone can take a simple thought and transpose it into verse that can make you weep.  Talent exists.

But that music director was definitely hitting on something - what makes certain people stand apart from others with the same, less, or more amount of talent at something, is the willingness to work at it.  To spend time and effort, expend blood, tears, and sweat, and deal with endless tedium and frustration (sometimes) to get really really good at something - this is incredibly difficult.  I'll make a confession - I've been told by many people throughout my life that I have the t-word: talent.  I've never had the diligence to apply it in any steadfast and meaningful way.  As the years of my life tick by, I grow increasingly rueful that I didn't do more, work harder, see farther than I did.  After all, the T word isn't much without a healthy dose of the W word and the L word (Work and Luck).

The good news is, amongst the scads of us with talent who are also gifted (or otherwise) with laziness or apathy, there are those who do put their T and their W out there, where the rubber meets the road.  The rest of us benefit from their efforts, every moment of every day.  Here are a few extraordinarily talented people and some of the amazing things they've created:

First, I just found out that Sandra, one of readers and Anthropologie employee, is also a silversmith!  Yes, a silversmith!, Paul Revere!  Only, she makes really cool, cute stuff like Kingsley the Owl Jewelry:

I mean, seriously, how adorable is he???  He so needs to make his home in my wardrobe.  I've already started my Kingsley the Owl fund.  Check out Sandra's Etsy store to see more of her amazing work.

Sandra also has a friend who is a leather-worker, and she makes the most amazing belts! Sandra was wearing this one the other day:

Isn't that amazing?  There are so many more beautiful things at her Etsy store, Contrived to Charm, as well, so check it out.

Then, last but definitely not least, is my younger brother, Paul, a singer and beatbox musician.  He's been working on his music, fairly seriously, this past year and I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of what he's been able to do.  His latest thing is a cover of Coldplay's Viva la Vida, which you can listen to/watch below.  He sings and/or beatboxes ALL the parts - it's seriously awesome and I absolutely love it.  I hope you will too!

Hope you're all having a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend!

It Begins. (Plus A Quickie Fitting Room Review)

Hello! I hope everyone is having a very nice Memorial Day Weekend, so far!

Today, two teams I largely don't care about will begin their last leg in pursuit of the prettiest trophy in all sports: The Stanley Cup.

From the Western Conference, you have the Chicago Blackhawks, who will try to win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

From the Eastern Conference, you have the Philadelphia Flyers, who have mounted an improbable postseason run after they needed a shootout victory in the last game of the regular season just to quality for the playoffs.

Being a fan of the Anaheim Ducks, the greatest Stanley Cup Champion of all time (hey, I didn't say it, The Hockey News did! ;o)), it's hard for me to be too emotionally involved in all this. But my love for hockey will always transcend my apathy.

I haven't decided who to root for yet. We'll see what happens after they drop the puck.

Annnnnnyway, I have a few more reviews. Nothing earth-shattering, but I hope you like 'em!

Mossy Atoms Skirt ($148)

I confess...I already knew that this skirt, at $148, was going to be a bit rich for my blood. But I loved the styling in the June catalog, so I couldn't resist giving it a try after seeing it on the table in the store. I grabbed a Small to try on, and it felt like the right size. There's probably a little wiggle room with the sizing with this one, as it has an elastic waist. The color is really cool (and a lot more "mossy" in real life than in these photos), and the print is very happy. The fabric is a light, airy silk and - what I love about Anthropologie skirts - there are pockets.

Now for the bad part. The all-over elastic waist is a turn-off, for me. I felt like it gave me a ton of extra poof (is it "poof" or "pouf?") around the midsection....which...this photo...doesn't help show at all.

How helpful.

(On the other hand? I love how skinny my cameraphone just helped me look! Yay Samsung!)

Detail of the elastic waistband:

It's not as bad with a belt, but still. Not my favorite silhouette ever. I can think of other ways to blow $148.

My attempt to re-create the catalog look, without the Graces Tank:

Detail of the Glimpse-of-Glitz Tank ($68):

So this tank didn't do anything for me either. It was like an imitation of a tank that's already been done by J.Crew, only with ribbons hanging off it. I can already imagine myself at dinner, trying to enjoy a plate pasta in tomato sauce and having the ribbons fall right into the sauce. I tried on a Small, and it fit fine...but - like the skirt - it was honestly nothing to write home about. The fit just felt off to me...hanging loosely through the torso like a t-shirt. I'm holding out for the Graces Tank.

Field Game Cardigan ($118, shown in a size Small)

Now, this? This is something I could see myself blowing $118 on. Because, who doesn't have $118 just laying around, right??



But...come on! It's heather grey! And an oatmeal-y pink! And lace, with pretty buttons and...and...

Anyway, I really really really really really like it. I love me my cardigans, and I could see myself throwing this baby on and feeling instantly chic. Wishlisted for future shopping debauchery.

I'll leave off with my OOTD from the other day. Though I passed up most of the things at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale, I do have to recommend these little Caslon Tiered Ruffle Tanks. They're on sale for a steal right now at $17.90, and there are over half a dozen different colors to choose from. They're just an easy-peasy little machine washable layering tank. And you know me - I'm nothing if not lazy.

Cardigan: Banana Republic (super old, but one of my staple fallback options here)
Skirt: H&M (similar option here)
Shoes: Charles David Wedge Heels (super fun and funky option here)
Sequined Bow Pin: Gift from Carol for my birthday last year =)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

And My Wallet Wept... (New Arrivals and Fitting Room Reviews)

Hi everyone and happy Friday (it'll probably be Friday by the time most of you read this)! I hope your week is going well. Mine's been pretty busy, but not overwhelmingly so - just the perfect amount of busy.  Yesterday, after work, I was in charge of the kiddos, because my husband had some well-deserved and necessary alone time coming to him (he had a work assignment to complete and also had been watching the kids a lot over the past week.  What does a Carol do, when facing down a few unassigned hours with the children?  Go on a field trip of course - to the mall!

So, to my credit, I honestly did not intend to go into Anthropologie.  But Rowan wanted a corn dog from Hot Dog on a Stick, which is in the food court, which is directly (almost) opposite Anthro, and I had to walk past it on my way back to the parking structure and well, it's like there are sirens - dress form sirens - singing to me and I couldn't - resist --.

Anthropologie is my kryptonite.  Seriously.  Here are some fitting room reviews:

When I saw the Tiny Windows Dress ($118) for the first time, it was on one of the British Anthropologi(e)st's fitting room reviews, and I literally gasped and exclaimed aloud, "What is that dress?!"  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know how I love my shirtdresses - the Beda, the Reed, the Deja (Theory).  So, you can only imagine that when I was passing by the entrance of Anthropologie, trying to resist the pull of its siren songs, I was completely done in when I saw the Tiny Windows Dress, hanging demurely (oooh, at least it wants me to think it is, I'm sure...) on a rack, front and center. I grabbed two - one in each color, and well, you can see the result above.  I'm wearing a size two, and it pretty much fit me perfectly.  There was just the teeniest tiniest bit of pulling around the buttons, but that's okay - I feel like it gives the illusion that I have a chest!  Speaking of, women who actually do have a larger bra size than me (I'd estimate about 90% of the post-puberty female population of the world) might need to size up.  This dress fits very much like its cousin, the Beda, and is made of the same type of textured fabric.  The only thing that stopped me from buying this on the spot was that I couldn't decide which color I liked better.  Sandra, lovely reader and Anthro-employee was working that day, so she weighed in - she likes the pink/rose (which looks much more like an orangey-salmon to me) better.  I was sort of leaning towards the lavender myself.  What do you think?  Which should I get?  (Oh, and should I return the Oratory Dress to get this?  Or should I keep the Oratory, and - whimper - not get this?)

Here is the much-blogged Sunwashed Dots dress ($128).  I spotted it in the store and was already gravitating towards it, and Sandra grabbed one for me, so here it is.  This is the size 2, and I think it's okay...but not great on me.  I love the pop of green in the sash and I like the length of the skirt...but for some reason, it didn't make my heart sing.  There was just no love.  Note that the skirt hit right above my knee (and I'm 5'2"), so taller women should keep that in mind, if they're also trying the size 2.

The Perilla Dress ($128) looked so wonderful on Rosa, Roxy, and Michelle Q, I couldn't resist taking it out for a spin.  I love the little trio of rosettes at the waist, and the wrap-style isn't terrible on me (wrap-styles are really hit or miss for me - I blame my smaller frame and narrow-ish shoulders), but while it makes everyone else look fabulously curvy, I thought it made me look like I had a tree-trunk for a torso.  Sigh.  At an angle (see photo, above right), it's not so bad.  But, I can't be standing, angled-off to everyone I talk to, now can I?  Too bad...this is a pass for me.

Here's the Breakfasting Dress ($138) in a size Small.  Obviously way too big on me.  However, I thought that if I'd had the right size, this could have been a definite possibility.  I liked the cut and the detailing and enjoyed how the black band at the waist - well, gave me a waist.  Definition is good!  I was a little thrown off by the waffle-knit texture of the fabric (hmm...the type of fabric my husband favors for his pjs), but overall, I'm eager to see if I can't track down an XS in this dress somewhere, because if it fits, it might be a keeper.

Sandra brought me the June, July, August Dress ($148) and I'm wearing it here, in an XS.  I love the bright colors and vibrant print of this dress, and it's hard to describe how soft and smooth the fabric is.  It's a pullover style, and I thought it would be a fun, easy, comfortable dress to throw on, when you want to look good but just can't be bothered.  I did think it could use a new belt, so I asked for one, and was brought a couple.  In the first picture (above left), I'm wearing the Looping Lanes belt (had to hold it taut in the back, because it was a size M, and too big for me) and below, left, I'm wearing the Acquainted Bands belt.  

Here's the June, July, August Dress with the Acquainted Bands Belt - look at how beautifully braided this belt is, in the back!  There's so much interest in the braid of this belt, compared to that of other braided belts.  I really love it.

Here is the Camilla Dress ($138) in a small.  I thought I'd grabbed this in an XS, but when I was in the dressing room, I realized I'd grabbed the wrong size.  As you can see, this is too big on me.  Still, I could see the promise in it.  I really like this creamy-white color and while it's not as striking as the navy version, I like that the lace embellishment is more subtle and less I'm-Wearing-Lace-On-My-Dress.  Wish-listed for a sale.