Thursday, July 28, 2011

You Gotta Look Good to Feel Good

Well, San Francisco, how are we feeling today? How are we looking? Pretty good! I did a little lunchtime survey of what San Franciscans are wearing on the street. And as you can see from these photos, some people are putting themselves together with style and imagination. But everyone I spoke with bemoans the fact that not enough people dress up to go downtown anymore. Ever since casual Friday originated during the dot-com days, a dressed-down mentality has permeated every day of the week. 

And according to a GQ survey that I read about on SFist, of the 40 worst-dressed cities in the United States, San Francisco came in at 20. Smack in the middle--not the worst, but not good either. The City's style ranked so-so. While we didn't need GQ to tell us that San Franciscans often dress in what is easy and not necessarily exciting or fashionable, the survey placed us between Houston and Jersey Shore. That's just not right. 

I've worked downtown for years and I often try to pick out the most stylish people in the crowds walking to and from work. I see a few, but I would love to see more. It's mostly a sea of ordinary denim, fleece and khakis. But today I was happy to discover these inspiring dressers. It makes me feel good to see people who make an effort and show their personalities in the way they dress. It's also showing a bit of respect for yourself and others. And it sure makes walking down the street more fun!

The snappy dressers are out there! Nowadays, you just have to look for them. Hopefully more people will start dressing up to go downtown, or anywhere. 

Remember, style is a terrible thing to waste and only YOU can rock your style. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Monday Blouse

Gettin' up, gettin' dressed and gettin' to work on a Monday can be a challenge. When I don't have something specific that I feel like wearing, I tend to start my outfit and my week wearing a white blouse. A crisp, bright white blouse makes me feel like I look more awake, together and professional than I'm actually feeling. And after a cup or two of coffee, I can actually start to feel that way.

At one time I had my white blouses laundered with a light starch. But that involves the two additional errands of drop off and pick up from the cleaners. I tried washing and ironing them myself, but never seemed to get to the ironing until the last minute when I was already rushing to get to work. Then I discovered no-iron cotton blouses, which are super practical for a working girl.

I've tried a few and I have two favorites. The 
Lands End version is very nice and the price is great. I usually have two or three hanging in my closet. The Brooks Brothers no iron blouse is more than twice the price, but the tailoring is more precise.

It's so much better to have a Monday blouse instead of what-to-wear Monday blues.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Most Expensive Pair of Boots

My misguided fantasy of boho chic.
What was I thinking? 

One of my regular blog reads for inspiration is Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”. The other day I read her post “Beware the Snare of the Linen Cocktail Napkin”She tells the story of being tempted to buy a set of linen cocktail napkins on sale and writes, “I wished that I had a place in my life for elegant cocktail napkins – but owning the napkins wouldn’t make me any different. I’d still be the same old Gretchen. Even apart from the expense, they’d just clutter up my apartment, and make me feel guilty, too.”

When I read these words the first thought that came to my mind was “brown suede London Sole boots.” I hadn’t thought about those boots in a long time because a year ago I tucked them into a flannel bag and shoved them to the back of my shoe shelf. Gretchen didn’t get caught in the snare, but I did. 

Seduced by the cache of the London Sole label, by the sale price and by the bright pink lining, I parted with $60 for a pair of boots that I’ve never worn, making them the most expensive boots I own. My Versace, Jimmy Choo and Lambertson Truex boots were all in the three figure range when I bought them, but I’ve worn each of them probably a hundred or more times, giving them a low CPW (cost per wear).

Not my look and that's okay. Boho Chic from Stylehive

What was I thinking when I bought these boots? I had fantasies of me being someone else. Someone who would sweep into a party as a vision of Boho Chic or stride all cool and hip down the sidewalk. But try as I might, these boots are not me and I am not these boots. To assuage my guilt and decrease my closet clutter I'm bringing them to my favorite consignment shop to cut my losses. 
Anyone else with similar experiences? I'd love to hear them. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Love Scarves

I love the variety, the colors and the patterns. I love Hermes scarves and I love flea market scarves. I love their cozy warmth on a chilly San Francisco day. Summer? It's gray skies, drizzly fog and 53 degrees here today! Scarves offer some emotional and psychic protection too, covering a vulnerable neck and chest from the outside world. I love how the right scarf can turn a tee shirt and jeans into a look. I love my lucky leopard-print scarf my aunt made for me and that I've worn on every flight for the last ten years, so far so good.  I love that they are so easy to pack.

You guessed it. This was a gift from Matt. I hinted heavily that for me to DLFW (dress like a frenchwoman), I needed an Hermes scarf. He thoughtfully selected this Ledoux designed Napolean theme in honor of my hometown,  New Orleans. 

But, have you ever tried reading the directions for how to tie a scarf? Left over right, right over left, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight. Where’s left and right when you’re looking in a mirror? Over and under becomes a conundrum. In just a few false moves, I can wind up with a silk ball ‘o confusion around my neck.

In the last few days I’ve immersed myself a little too much into scarf tying techniques and forgot my own advice which is to have fun putting together an outfit and wear what looks good and feels good. I followed this illustration from an Hermes publication (click on "Handy PDF file") this morning as I was rushing to get ready for work.

From Cartes a Nouer by Hermes

Simple enough, but it just wasn’t working for me. It kept sliding around from the weight of my Chaine d’Ancre scarf ring. And it was too poufy to wear sitting at my desk. I kept distractedly fiddling with it, which is a sure sign that something’s not right. I popped into the ladies' and retied it my own way, raising it closer to my neck and bringing the ends to the front and through the scarf ring. I liked it so much better. That’s another thing I love about scarves, they're easy to change.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pareo Paradiso

Matt gave me this pareo on our first vacation together.
I never knew I needed it, but now I take it with me on every swell swimming getaway. 
When traveling to a beach or resort destination or really anyplace where I’ll be at a pool, I always pack at least two pareos. One that’s elegant and dressy and the other that’s casual and sturdy. The tying and wearing might be a bit of a mystery to some, but millions of people wear a length of unstitched fabric as their daily dress. And with just a little practice it’s possible to master a few styles. 
A pareo is the most versatile, practical and simplest of all clothing items. It’s just one length of fabric yet it does so much. The size is a rectangle around two yards long and one to one-and-a half yards wide, depending on what you need for your height. You can wrap it around your waist for a skirt or around your body for a dress to create a sensuous garment. And for those of us who are a bit self-conscious in a swimsuit, by tying a beautiful pareo around your hips you'll feel instantly chic and could find yourself walking poolside with an elegant confidence. 

Puerto Pareo Vallarta

Yet it’s the simplicity that can be the most mystifying. How does one wrap and knot and keep the darn thing up without fiddling with it constantly or feeling the whole thing sliding down to your feet, perhaps revealing more than you intended? There are many tying techniques, but there are a few basics that are easy to learn. The easiest is folding the pareo in half widthwise, hold it behind you by the two top corners at waist height then create a skirt by bringing both sides to the front and tie to make a square knot. 

With my more rugged pareo, I can throw it on the sand or lounge chair as a beach or picnic blanket. And what could be easier to pack than a flat, folded swath of fabric?
I’ve been studying lots of drawings and descriptions of how to tie a pareo and it gets confusing. The best is to watch someone demonstrate. 
Here’s a good video showing lots of variations. 
Grab a glass of wine (or a pina colada!), a pareo or sarong or make your own. Then indulge in twenty minutes watching the video with a mirror nearby and try the looks that appeal to you. With just a little imagination and practice, you can nail several tying techniques and soon you'll be wearing your pareo with effortless chic.