Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays!

We know it's been a while, but we still think of you and are hoping you're all enjoying a happy and safe holiday season. 

And just for a little fun, here's my family's holiday card from this year:

Photos by Haseeb Omar; Card by Minted.

And Kathryn's family's holiday card from this year:

Card by Love Paper Paint

I'll be checking in really soon, to let you know what we've been up to. In the meantime, eat lots of tasty things, laugh a lot with your friends and family, and shine your lovely lights all over the world you live in.

And let us know how you're doing - we've missed you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fast Fashion and Other Dilemmas

A few weeks ago, I stopped in at Old Navy. I picked up some things for my kids - pants for Rowan for $15 a pair, tees for Kate, on sale for $4 a piece. I browsed the women's section, and picked up a mint-colored cardigan for $22. It was a simple, and pretty harmless way to scratch the itch for a little something new.

At least, that's what I thought then.

A little over a month ago, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed and killed over 1100 people. Rescue and recovery efforts are still going on but the chances of finding any survivors in the rubble grow slimmer by the hour. I can't even begin to imagine the ordeal that those not killed immediately must suffer through, as they wait - many of them in vain - to be saved. This is not the first tragedy of this kind to occur in Bangladesh and other developing countries, where factories packed with laborers in poor working conditions hearken back to the U.S.'s own shadowed history with unsafe working conditions and related deaths in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

I like a good deal as much as the next person. But not enough that I'm willing to put people's lives in jeopardy. Turns out that I'm not alone and the majority of surveyed Americans feel much the same way.

(I ordered a couple of these silk blouses - they're really lovely and the quality is good. Just an FYI, the lighter colors, like the gray, are a bit sheer, so I'll be wearing that with a cami underneath. The navy was great as is.)

So, with that in mind, I'm paying more attention. And in doing so, I was disappointed to note that only two American companies (Abercrombie & Fitch and PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and IZOD) have signed onto a new factory safety agreement that has been signed by some prominent European companies, including H&M, Inditex (owner of Zara), C&A of the Netherlands, and Primark and Tesco from Great Britain, among others. The new accord is a legally binding contract that calls for independent and rigorous safety inspections in all Bangladeshi factories, with all mandatory repairs and renovations underwritten by the western companies who are signatories.

There's some controversy about whether such an agreement is putting the cart before the horse. For instance, critics of the plan say that there's no point in stressing worker safety in a country that has no legal provisions for worker rights as it is. Others point out that it should be the responsibility of the factory owners, not the companies contracting the factories, to pay for safety improvements.

It seems to me, however, that in a country as poor as Bangladesh, where the average factory worker makes $37 a month, it's not entirely unreasonable for wealthy multi-national companies who are contracting the factories to help protect the well-being and safety of most vulnerable in this system. 

This is not to say this is problem that's easily corrected. There are a lot of systemic changes that need to be made to ensure that workers' safety and rights are protected. Still, it's important not to feel defeated by the complexity of the issues, or the complications that may arise. We, as consumers, have an important role in this - we can "vote with our pocketbooks" as it were by shopping with brands and retailers who utilize ethical and sustainable practices, as well as actually call or write companies and ask explicitly about what they're doing to prevent future tragedies as well as human suffering, in the production of their garments.

As an example, I reached out to one of my favorite retailers (Nordstrom) to ask them what they do, and was relieved to hear that they actually have a company policy about this (you can read it here) that includes standards of workers' rights, providing fair employment practices, and ensuring safe work environments; audits of building permits, maintenance records, and safety procedures prior to entering into contracts with factories; and monitoring and auditing processes that include direct management of relationships with factories, auditors, and agents on the ground by Nordstrom team members.

I have to say that while researching for this post, I found it discouragingly difficult to find fair trade, ethical, sustainably made fashions that I actually wanted to wear. There are lots of accessory companies, but not as many clothing ones. In the meantime, I'll keep looking and will post here, occasionally. So far, I came across the following brands who are making clothing in Los Angeles, using thoughtful and sustainable practices: Everlane (blouse pictured at near the top of the post), Kristinit (see dress pictured), and of course, AG Jeans (above) of which I've long been a fan (yay for AG Stevies!). 

So, what about you? Do you know of any good fair trade, ethical fashion brands that you'd like to share? Is this something you consider when you shop?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kate Spade Surprise Sale! (And it included a Serious Surprise!)

Hi everyone!

I'm here to break my long silence (so sorry about that - things have been moving merrily along in Carol-the-activist-and-public-servant-world, and I'm still trying to find about 6 more hours hidden in the day to get everything in, that I'd like) because a shopping miracle of sorts occurred today.

I know, I know - it's a little silly. But you know how we all have those things "that got away?" Because we couldn't afford it at the time, or because we hesitated, or because we had other priorities - whatever.

So, one of those things for me is the Kate Spade All Typed Up Clyde. Back when I first saw it, I felt like I couldn't justify the full price purchase for such a quirky bag. And then, later, when it went on sale, I hesitated because I was on a shopping ban at the time. And shortly after that, it disappeared from view completely, and despite sporadic checks on eBay for it over the years, I never saw it again.


That's right!!! This morning, my inbox greeted me with the notification that Kate Spade is having a 48-hour Surprise Sale. And what did my eyes behold in the "handbags" section but this?

Two and a half years after I first laid eyes on it, I found (and purchased - as a belated birthday/Mother's Day gift for myself) the handbag that got away. There's a part of me that knows it's still not the most practical purchase and there's a part of me that also thinks that I should be updating my professional wardrobe (more on that later) and that a candy-apple red handbag emblazoned with an old-school typewriter keyboard isn't contributing to that. But I also know that this fun, playful bag has indelibly wormed its way into my life somehow and well, there you have it. When something as unique as this comes around over and over again, I imagine we're allowed.

And speaking of Kate Spade, here are some of the latest offerings that have piqued my interest:

1. 'Elaina' Jacket (Love the retro-silhouette, geometric pattern, and how it'll go equally well layered over a dress, slacks, or jeans.)
2. Natural Trompe L'oeil 'Mariella' Dress (There's nothing like the combination of a bateau neckline, cap sleeves, fitted waist, and flared skirt, is there? And the neutral colors make this dress understated while the print makes it memorable.)
3. 'Fresia' Sandal (I love the black-and-cream combo - so classic - and the flash of gold in the heel? Perfection.)

What about you? Are you checking out the Kate Spade Surprise Sale?

Hoping you're having a great day. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Where I've Been (Checking in)

Hi everyone!

I have been a really bad blogger lately. I think it's been nearly a month since I posted last, and really, that's just ridiculous. I'm sorry. I've been meaning to check in with you for weeks on what I've been doing, but time keeps slipping away from me. But finally, here I am. And I want to share with you what's been going on.

A few months back, I wrote a post talking about discovering my vocation.

I'd discovered it - but you know what? I hadn't committed. I thought I had, but not really, because I wasn't really talking about it with many people. Just a close circle of friends, the DH, and a few others. I was afraid to talk about it too much, for fear of upsetting people. Instead, I stealthily, fairly quietly, went out and started dabbling in it.

Just dabbling. A little volunteering here. A little organizing there. But essentially treating it like a hobby - something I did in my spare time, when I wasn't working my job or caring for my family.

Remember that thing about spending a lifetime diminishing myself (and therefore the value of my interests, beliefs, etc) and how hard that is to overcome? Yes, that. I call them my "gremlins," and I'll write more about them later. But even though I knew - knew - that this was IT - the thing I'd spent nearly all of my adult life and most of my young adult life trying to discern, I was still hesitating.

"I'm just exploring," I told myself and others. "Just trying things out."

It's an incredibly hard thing to really own who you are and step into yourself. There's so much exposure in that place! No armor, no protective shells - just you.

You and your raison d'etre.

My raison d'etre? (Deep breath.) Public service. And its erstwhile attendant, politics.

I love it. I just do. I love the service. I love the work. I love the organizing. I love the ideas. I love what being American means to me. I love the range of issues encompassed within its scope and I love the passion it draws from people.

Oh, and that's what I love best of all - the people. I've met so many in these past couple months and they're just wonderful! Generous, hard-working, idealistic, pragmatic, vehement, timid, but all stepping out and stepping forward to try and contribute and do something good. Sure, there have been one or two with particular agendas that don't seem to be about serving anyone, or who I passionately disagree with - but, they're all just...amazing. And I know that in the news, we read stories every day about people who do really horrible and even evil things, but my interactions with the larger community have disproven the popular notions that strangers are likely to be baddies. Maybe I've just been lucky so far, but all the people I've worked with have just been lovely.

So as for the work, I decided that as part of this stepping into my Self and living my truths, I would take on some community organizing. Where better, than with "average" and "ordinary" citizens to start connecting with the courageous, creative, generous, and driven spirit of our country? I started with a couple of service events in support of Operation Gratitude, and then moved on to starting a chapter of Organizing for Action in San Diego. I like this particular group because while we definitely tend to lean left in terms of political orientation, we identify as non-partisan. This means that we're able to reach out to all of our friends, neighbors, and family and find those intersections of caring - those things on which we can agree and care deeply about - in order to start making meaningful progress towards solving problems together. It means that we can step away from the pissing contests policy-making can sometimes be (you know - the part that makes everyone grimace and roll their eyes) and be positive, constructive, and supportive.

Those are the things we need in politics now. Along with kindness, consideration, and love. I believe they're there - but they just get buried under all the noise and bluster and anxiety.

Can you imagine what public service and politics would be like if we just remembered how loving, kind, and thoughtful we actually already are?

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know where I've been. And I'm hoping to continue my blogging - style blogging here and issues-and-personal-development blogging on my other blog, Material Good. But getting a chapter of grassroots volunteers doing multi-track issues activism up and running while simultaneously working a full-time job, being a mom and wife, daughter, sister, and friend has been a lot to juggle. My hope is that things will settle down a bit soon and I'll be able to check in here with you more regularly.

Wherever this takes me - and whatever it is I eventually end up doing - I want to thank you all wholeheartedly. This blog and your interest, care, and company have been a constant source of creativity, joy, and support to me for the past three years. I wouldn't be where I am now, without it or you.

I'll be back soon with our regular programming!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Nordstrom Designer Preview Spring 2013

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Nordstrom Designer Preview for Spring 2013. It was, as usual, a fun and fabulous time with over 400 guests in attendance. The event took place at the Wyland Center in the Del Mar Fairgrounds and helped raise $83,000 for the San Diego Opera

But enough of those details - let's get to what's important here - the clothes!

In past years, I was wowed by the likes of Jason Wu and Oscar De La Renta - and these designers continue to impress, but it was Dolce & Gabbana that completely swept me off my feet this year. Here are some of my favorite outfits from the fashion show this year (photo credit: June Bayha).

I love this black and white striped dress, it's full skirt, and the mid-calf length. I'm pretty sure it'd be terrible on shorty-McShorterson me, but I love the look:

Dolce & Gabbana White and Black Brocade Striped Dress (I can't find it online anywhere, but here's a shorter, cap-sleeved version), Miss Sicily Leather Shopper, Prada Wicker Sandal

I loved these two outfits below - and how perfect are the red-and-white stripes paired with the floral skirt?

Left: Dolce & Gabbana Multi-Stripe Dress and Prada Wicker Sandal; Right: Dolce & Gabbana Striped Three-Quarter Sleeve Jacket, Floral Print Linen Skirt, and Prada Wicker Sandal

I'm not entirely sure I know why, but I love the crazy print (featuring a painting of Spanish Conquistadors?) on this D&G skirt:

After all the color and flamboyance of Dolce & Gabbana (which I adored the way I adore chocolates and sweets), Lanvin's offerings was like a cool drink of water. I love the sophisticated, minimalist styles:

While my style tends to be not aligned with Donna Karan's aesthetic, I still appreciate the graceful, flowing lines of her designs. I always imagine that her clothes are what you might wear while on a very chic safari. Or while sojourning in a desert. You know, that sort of thing. 

I love the fun, wearable quality of Jason Wu's designs. I actually bought a pale pink leather motorcycle jacket during last year's Anniversary Sale, so I think I'm going to have to recreate the outfit on the left. Too cute!

 Is there anything more perfect in terms of feminine details than these Oscar de la Renta dresses?

Pucci was surprisingly...not full of loud prints and patterns. There were audible gasps when that red column dress on the left appeared on the runway.

Far and Center Left: Emilio Pucci High Neck-Low Back Gown; Center Right: Elisse Stretch Silk Dress and YSL Tribute Sandal; Right: Mesh Sleeve Dress

Here are some of the pretty dresses I perused after the fashion show. A girl can dream, can't she?:

In the meantime, here's what I wore. Also, thanks to my friend June Bayha who not only kept me company, but who took all the pictures for me.

Thanks to Nordstrom for the invitation! And thanks to all of you for stopping by!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shopping Confessional (wishlist)

Hi everyone!

Hoping you're doing well. I've been having one of those weeks where I've been sort of super-non-stop-busy, including late nights and work-related phone calls as I drop off kids (at babysitters) or pick them up (from school) and all that sort of thing. And then, this afternoon, it all sort of came to a halt.

I least as much as I can do for now...on most of the things I'd been working on and well...

I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.

Soooooo, I've decided to do some virtual window shopping instead. And in the process, I'll update you on the types of purchases I've made or am planning to make or even unmake, as the case may be.

I'm sorry - my creativity is completely sapped right now. I promise I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Okay, so you already know that last weekend I went shopping and bought some boyfriend jeans. I had a whole list of things I wanted, but that was the only thing I actually checked off the list. Here are the other items I had in mind:

1. Charlie Fatigue Jacket (I was worried this one would be way too long on me, when I first saw it in one of J. Crew's ubiquitous emails. But then I saw it in the store and tried it on. It is long - but I think it still works. The store only had a size small, which is a bit big on me in the body, so I'm holding out for an XS, which I'll hopefully be able to track down soon. It helps, of course, that I've got a gift card burning a hole in my pocket...)
2. Glazed/Coated Denim (not so sure on this one...still mulling it over. I love the sheen and the finished, sophisticated look of these jeans. But are they too rockstar for me? Maybe black instead? Questions, questions...)
3. Sassy black sandals (I came across these and these online and love them both. Also these. They're all super $$$, so I'm going to keep looking. These and these are more reasonable possibilities, but will need to have them on my feet to know. These are pretty different from anything I own but I kind of like them for some reason. And these are crazy, pretty, and fun but practically a mortgage payment. Will continue to look and be sure to update you as I go along.)
4. Ted Baker Dotted Dress (I bought this. I received this. I actually don't like this in person. First, it's polyester which I think is ridiculous for a dress that cost over $200. Second, the color is a bit odd on me. And last - the cut doesn't work for my body the way I hoped it would. Back it goes.)
5. Rag and Bone Dress (I bought this on impulse the day I bought my jeans. I love it - it's totally cute and it fits really well. It's really pricey though. And that very day, I saw a woman carrying a black Celine handbag, which has now completely eclipsed the Sophie Hulme Buckle Bag I was obsessing over, so I think I should take this dress back and save for the Celine, yes? Yes.)
6. Anthropologie Lousa Shift (I love the green of this dress. And shifts are so lovely and easy to wear. This one looks extremely promising - and it comes in a petite version!)
7. Anthropologie Kanshi Dress (How sweet is this dress? Can't you just see it with a denim jacket thrown over it? Or a cardi? Or a blazer? Love!)
8. Anthropologie Firebloom Cardigan (So pretty. WANT.)

So, yes, all that talk a few weeks ago about not having interest in shopping? Mmm, it seems to have passed. Or maybe it's just that after lots of intense thinking/working, the abrupt halt has left a vacuum, and well...we know that nature abhors a vacuum.

Yeah, that's it. This is just a law of nature. Mmhm.

What about you? Any current cravings?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Boyfriend (OOTD)

If you follow me on Twitter (@raphaela235), then you know I went shopping a couple days ago for the first time in what feels like a reeeeeeeally loooooooong time. You'll also know that I had a list of things I wanted to find - the first and foremost being a pair of boyfriend jeans.

Sweater: Celeste Cashmere Cardigan (similar here, here, and here)
Shirt: Gap Stretch Cotton (similar here, here, and here)
Necklaces: J. Crew Necklaces (similar here, here, and here)

I've been wanting a pair of proper boyfriend jeans for quite a while. These Joe's are great. The denim is so soft I could literally sleep in them. I tried on a couple different pairs, and for whatever reason, these worked best on my frame. Stephanie tweeted me a recommendation for the CoH Dylan jeans (these run pretty big - size down 1-2 sizes) which were also cute, but didn't hang from my hips with the kind of slouchiness I was shooting for.

And now you know - in my world, "slouchy" can get that specific.

A couple tips about wearing boyfriend jeans that I picked up from Kelly (who helped me find this particular pair - thanks, K!): roll the cuff narrow, rather than wide, especially if you're shorter like me. A wider cuff can serve to shorten the leg proportionally, to the eye, and when paired with the relaxed leg, can make a person look positively stubby. Also, don't be afraid to keep the cuff rolled low. You don't need to roll them so high that they make you look ready to wade through a kiddie pool. After all, these are boyfriend jeans, not clam-diggers. 

For those of you who are curious, I got these in a size 25 - and I usually wear a 26. It's worth noting that the size 25 is roomy - I think I could have gone with a size 24, but the whole point of boyfriend jeans is that they're big - like you took them from your boyfriend, right?

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

I hope you're all having a great Monday and for those in the USA, happy President's Day weekend! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Black and White

Black is the new black, my friends.

You know, I feel like sometime in 2010, black fell out of favor in my closet. I really much preferred to wear lots of colors. All kinds. Preferably all together at once. I'd only occasionally wear black for work - my black twill Minnies were and still continue to be a go-to for professional situations. But black was rarely any sort of creative choice for my wardrobe, until fairly recently.

It started showing up earlier this winter, paired with grays or creams. Then with white. And now?

Now it's everywhere, constituting its very own, real-live actual trend.

Most of us have plenty of black and white in our closets already, but I decided to research the black-and-white offerings of some of my favorite designers/retailers. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Kate Spade Striped Dorothy Coat (Quirky and playful - signature Kate Spade. Can't you just imagine Zooey Deschanel wearing this? *happy sigh*)
2. Prabal Gurung for Target Skirt (This latest designer collaboration for Target has been less buzzy than past collaborations, and while I love the way it looks in product photos, I found it not as wearable for myself personally. But I do love this skirt. It makes me want to try to recreate this Jason Wu/Lea Michele outfit from a couple years ago.
3. Miss Wu Embroidered Faille Dress (Speaking of Jason Wu, this dress is beautiful in person - the texture, sheen, and sparkle of the fabric and trims just don't come through in the product photos. Whenever I see it in the store, I find myself wanting to touch it.)
4. Alice + Olivia Vix Chevron Dress (Such a fantastic graphic print and so fun.)
5. Miss Wu Contrast Sleeve Sweater (I tried this sweater on this weekend, and I loved the enlarged houndstooth knit in the sleeve and the metallic sparkle in the body. It's a bit of a chunky cotton knit, but I liked it, even though it verged towards the shapeless side. Unfortunately - or fortunately for my budget? - I needed an XS in it, and the Fashion Valley Nordstrom only had a Small. I'll definitely be sale-stalking this one.)
6. Kate Spade Checkered Sadie Skirt (So cute. I love a good windowpane plaid, don't you?)
7. Marc Jacobs Optic Spot Blouse (How adorable is that ruffle detail on the collar? Super cute, right? My only regret? That the price isn't cuter. Something tells me that this one won't make it to sale, but a girl can dream.)
8. Anthropologie Greenwich Pencil Dress (I love the clean lines on this dress. Great for all kinds of occasions, including work.)
9. Anthropologie Gemma Lace Buttondown (Okay, okay, this isn't exactly white. It's more creamy. But I still love it. I'm saying it counts.)
10. Anthropologie All-weather Chemise (This looks so super comfy and cute! It's sitting in my shopping cart right now, and my fingers are just itching to hit "checkout.")

So, have you found yourself wearing more black and white?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Current Obsession

I totally blame Ahn of 9 to 5 Chic.

I do this. (I suspect quite a few of us do this, actually.) I get totally hung up on one item - goodness knows it's something I don't really need. But it's just there, always on the tip of my consciousness, hanging out, pestering me. It's like a scratch you can't itch, so you can't get your mind off it and soon you can't think of anything else. You obsess over it, tell stories in your head about it (any of you read the "Shopaholic" books? Remember how she was always, "The girl with the green scarf?" Or "The girl in the lilac sandals?" Or whatever purchase it was she was trying to rationalize?), and then finally, cave and just buy it. 

For a while, it was like a disease - there was always the next thing, and then the next thing, and then, yes, again, the next thing.

I've been relieved lately, to find that when I'm excited about or busy with other things - non-fashion-and-style-related things that I really love (oh my gosh, what do you do if fashion is your vocation?) - then I'm much less prone to these consumerist obsessions. I can honestly say I haven't had one in months - and aside from some J. Crew sweater-related indulgences back in December and a certain Christmas present I had to have, haven't been shopping a whole lot either. 

But I gotta say, this bag is starting a carve itself a spot in my psyche and well...I kinda want to let it!

C'mon, 'fess up. What about you? What's your current obsession?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I ♥ Noodles! (Noodle Bowl Fest)

A couple friends of mine have organized the very first Noodle Bowl Fest, taking place this year in Santa Monica, CA.

What is the Noodle Bowl Fest? It's a three-hour feast at the Viceroy Santa Monica featuring Asian soup noodles crafted by seven of L.A.’s hottest restaurants on Sunday, February 10th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

(My mouth waters just thinking about it. I really, seriously, truly, and deeply ♥ noodle soups!)

Here's what's on the menu:
  • Din Tai Fung, the iconic San Gabriel Valley branch of the world-famous Taipei restaurant, is making Niu Rou Mian, otherwise known as Taiwan’s most popular Beef Noodle Soup.
  • Rodded, a 40-year family-run restaurant in Thai Town, will offer the Komenkul family's signature Duck Noodle Soup, made with stewed duck and bean sprouts in a cinnamon-tinged soy broth.
  • Tsujita LA head Chef Kenta Ikehata of Little Osaka's famed ramen shop is creating his popular Tsukemen noodles, a dipping-style ramen simmered for 60 hours served with a Tonkotsu soup.
  • Maximiliano’s Chef and Owner Andre Guerrero is showcasing a dish inspired by his mom, Filipino Chicken Noodle Soup (Sotanghon Manok), a chicken broth seasoned with Southeast Asian flavors and bean-thread noodles.
  • Chef David LeFevre of M.B. Post, a 2012 James Beard Award Semifinalist, Best New Restaurant and Best Chef (Pacific), is featuring Oxtail and Beef Brisket Pho, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish.
  • Seoul Sausage Co., the winners of the third season of The Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, will preview an exclusive dish for the event: Korean Army Noodles called “Budae Jigae.” But their version has a gourmet twist on this classic dish; spicy pork Seoul Sausage, braised pork belly, rice cake, ramen noodles, and roasted corn.
  • Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica’s Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo is preparing Kimchi Sujebi, a traditional Korean noodle soup made with handmade dough.

Also on the menu at Noodle Bowl Fest will be Singha Beer and a delicious craft cocktail courtesy of Karlsson’s Gold Vodka. The cocktail, called “La La Land,” is a tasty liquid treat comprised of Karlsson's Vodka, Aperol, raspberry and white pepper syrup, fresh lemon juice, fresh cucumber juice, fresh mint, and Bitter Truth celery bitters.

Street Symphony will be performing, and a percentage of the proceeds from the event will be donated directly to My Friend’s Place; a Hollywood-based charity dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.

The DH and I will be attending, so if you decide to go (I really hope you do!), shoot me an email and let me know. I'd love to meet you in person. Hope you can make it! 

Tickets are already close to selling out, so get yours here.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Latest Crush (Ted Baker)

A few days ago, I was writing quite confidently about my decided disinterest in shopping in general. I was suffering, I think, from a severe case of fashion ennui.

Which has been entirely cured by Ted Baker London. We could all pretend it's a miracle (*snort*) but really? All you need to do is look at this:

(Which I may have totally impulse-purchased. Eeee!)

And that isn't all! Check out the following for some serious closet-candy (the kind that could leave cavities in your wallet *ahem*):

1. Ted Baker Print Tunic Dress (I love a good shift dress - I find them surprisingly flattering considering the fact that they seem so shapeless, they're very versatile - can often be easily dressed up or down with the change of accessories and shoes - and really so comfy. This one's colors and prints make it great for a variety of seasons.)
2. Ted Baker Lace Minidress (Here's a fun take on the LBD. I've been steering pretty clear of the lace dress thing this past year, since I have the Unconditional Osier Dress in my closet, but I'm wondering if maybe there's room for a second...)
3. Ted Baker Embellished Fit and Flare Dress (This dress just takes my breath away. So lovely.)
4. Ted Baker Stretch Knit Sheath Dress (So perfect for day-to-evening dressing. Simple with just the amount of detail to add interest. Throw on a cardigan and polished flats for the office. Swap out the cardi for a statement necklace and the flats for pumps for dinner and drinks later.)
5. Ted Baker Double Breasted Trench Coat (Seriously so cute. Love the flared bottom half.) 
6. Ted Baker Cameo Printed Top (I love the whimsy of this little sweater/blouse. Adorable dressed up for work or down for the weekend.)
7. Ted Baker Embellished Collar Dress (There's something so striking about this dress - I really really wish it weren't sold out in my size. Gorgeous.)
8. Travers Bowler Bag (Great color, good size, nice pockets.)

Ah, Ted Baker. I think I might ♥ you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Caped Cute-sader (Ms. Deschanel)

Okay, okay, lame title, I know. But look! Look at this:

Yes, you're welcome.

I've already got a cape in my closet, and I don't wear it enough to feel like a second is warranted, but the color - oh, that color! - is giving me second thoughts. (Not to mention third, fourth, and fifth ones....) 

Full disclosure - I love the idea of capes. But the reality of them is an entirely different thing. They're not as warm as you'd expect. I think this has to do with the fact that there are no sleeves and that there's a lot of access for cold air (drafty!) due to the wide bottom. Also, if you get the wrong one, it'll make you look like you're 1) wearing a blanket or 2) wearing a costume.

There's a tricksy fine line you have to walk when wearing a cape.

That being said - they're also super fun and can be a super chic way to top an outfit (see Ahn in her Stella McCartney trench cape here - though, is it really a cape if it has sleeves?).

In case you feel inspired by Zooey's ridiculously cute 'New Girl' wardrobe, but aren't sure about the versatility of a bright jewel-toned pink or feel daunted by the sticker price, here are a few other capes you might want to consider (most are on sale, too):

1. Kenneth Cole Hooded Cape (very cute and an amazing deal)
2. Jucca Cape (not sure how warm it'll be, but cute!)
3. Orange Buckle Cape Coat (like a vintage store find!)
4. AE Hooded Toggle Cape (Wish this was still available in more sizes...)
5. Women's Reversible Cape (I feel like the Von Trapp kids were wearing these as they fled the Nazis...amiright?) 
6. Marc by Marc Jacobs Forest Camo Cape (I just had to throw this one in there, for you really chic forest rangers/wood elves/Rebel Alliance member hanging out on Endor. ^_-)

And these are neither affordable or even necessarily practical, but if we all won the lottery, we could all have this ivory wool one by Marni, this rugged hooded version by Burberry, and this odd but intriguing ruffled one from Dolce & Gabbana.

What do you think? Would you try a cape?

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Finally Happened... (Kate Spade)

There's a "Carol" dress at Kate Spade. And no, it's not just a dress that I want and I'm calling it a "Carol" dress just because I love it so much.

Kate Spade actually named a dress, "Carol:"

Which means I'm totally allowed, right?

Speaking of Kate Spade, have you seen the post-holiday, new arrivals? There are a just a handful catching my eye:

1. Bradie Dress (Lately, I've found my taste in clothes leaning towards less embellishment than more. This simple, high-waisted sheath dress with it's beaded collar hits all my sweet spots - easy, sophisticated shape, always elegant black color, and the just-right amount of detail on the attached collar.)
2. Neal Dress (This is an adorable little day dress - pretty much perfect for any of the usual "occasions" of my life, including work, church, dinners out, and family get-togethers. Cheerful print and whimsical peter pan collar - love it!)
3. 'Meri' Sweater in Mondrian (This sweater, inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian, walks a fine line between totally fun and fabulous and '80s Cosby Sweater. I can't decide which it actually is. When I see it on its own, I'm underwhelmed. But styled so with the dark skinny jeans, classic pumps, and a playful necklace, it's pretty great! May have to sale-stalk this one.)
4. Deco Lora Dress (I don't know if this is actually a "new arrival," but I've only just noticed it, so we'll pretend it is. I love the less structured look of this drop-waist, sleeveless shirt dress, though I did notice that in this product page, it looks definitely fit-and-flare, which is...weird, right? Not sure how it's supposed to go, exactly. This is one I'll need to try on to figure out how it's actually fits. Hoping it's the former and not the latter.)

I have to say that after the shopping-frenzy of the holidays, I've been feeling a bit burnt out. Also, this time of year is always a little awkward, fashion-wise - nothing terribly fresh or interesting in the stores yet, lots of awkwardly unseasonal "resort" wear on display (which also just serves to remind me that I don't live the lifestyle that allows me to take off for more tropical climes for a couple weeks), and a holiday-fatigued bank account. 

Despite this, I did manage to pick up a Diamond Lambswool Sweater (in brown) on super sale at my local J. Crew, after my Day of Service event this past weekend (which went great! See photos from it here). I'm determined to wear it this week, despite the mid-70's to low-80's forecast we have for San Diego.

And then, of course, there's the Carol Dress. Which...well, I really think I ought to have, don't you?

How's the weather where you are? And what goodies do you have your eye on?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Operation Gratitude and the National Day of Service

Hi everyone! Hope you're all having a great week. 

This Saturday, January 19th, is the MLK National Day of Service and I want to invite everyone to participate in this really wonderful event.

Back in 1994, Congress designated the national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a National Day of Service. Across the nation, in pretty much every community, there are community service and volunteerism activities planned in honor of the day. It's a great way to get together with your friends, family, and neighbors to give back to our greater communities and recognize the value of service - both to ourselves as contributing individuals and to the recipients of our generosity and time.

No matter where you live or where your interests may lie, you can find opportunities to volunteer at the the MLK Day website as well as the Presidential Inauguration Committee's National Day of Service website (non-partisan).

For those of you who are in the San Diego area, I want you to invite you to join me (and Kate) at a Day of Service activity benefitting Operation Gratitude, which is an organization that sends care packages to U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions. We will be hand-writing letters and making cards and paracord survival bracelets that will be included in the care packages assembled and shipped by Operation Gratitude. 

You can register to attend here or just show up:

Operation Gratitude: Letter Writing Campaign for the National Day of Service

Location: Black Contractors' Association
6125 Imperial Avenue
San Diego, CA 92114 (map here)

Time: 10 AM to 3 PM (Come for the whole time or drop by when you can.)

Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013

This is a great activity for families - parents and older children can write letters and make cards or bracelets and even smaller children can participate by drawing pictures for inclusion with the cards and letters. I'm the event leader and will be there the entire time, so if you do attend, please say hi! 

What are your plans for the National Day of Service? If you have an activity in which you're participating in your area, please feel free to post the details in the comments below for other readers. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Welcoming Miss Wu (Jason Wu's New Contemporary Line)

Many of you may know how I ♥ Jason Wu. In fact, I had the good fortune to meet him during a personal appearance event at Nordstrom Fashion Valley, here in San Diego, a couple years back. His clothes are beautiful. Feminine, gorgeously cut and constructed - just really, really lovely.

And also, pretty much impossible to acquire within the limitations of my budget. For example, this (I love!), this (oh, yes, please!) and this (I need a life that requires dresses like this one). At least, until now.

Jason Wu has launched a contemporary line called "Miss Wu" that is debuting exclusively at Nordstrom.

All I can say is, "Happy sighs."

There are subtle stylistic differences between the designer "Jason Wu" collection and the contemporary "Miss Wu," line. The latter is younger, more practical for day-to-day wear, and as he puts it, more "downtown." And while I absolutely adore the designer line, I recognize right away that this contemporary line would play well with the rest of my closet, in a way that the designer line would not. 

While generally speaking, my contemporary-line acquisitions are awesome sale finds (full-priced is full-on splurge-time for this gal), with some careful sequestering of my discretionary funds, I think I can definitely manage to make some Miss Wu mine.

So, for starters, I love the two outfits above. But I've also got my eye on these others:

1. Miss Wu Belted Cotton Trench Coat (I love this coat - the deep olive color and the black ribbon-like belt. Lovely!)
2. Miss Wu Floral Print Silk Dress (I love a good shift dress and this print is so great. I'm a little ambivalent about the fact that the print doesn't continue across the back, but it's a great dress nonetheless.)
3. Miss Wu 'Bella' Belted Feather Print Dress (Black and white seem to be the colors of the post-holiday season, so this dress is a playful take on that - and the pops of yellow on the feathers? Genius.)
4. Miss Wu Lace Print Silk Twill Dress (Really so pretty! Can't you see it paired with a Jackie cardigan for ladylike or maybe a longer cardi for a more librarian look? Can't you imagine wearing it to brunch or dinner or a more casual wedding?)
5. Miss Wu 'Lush' Stripe Silk Twill Skirt (I love this skirt. There are about a million and five things I could wear with it, sitting in my closet right this second. Surely that means I'm allowed?)

So, what do you think? Will you Miss Wu?