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Dog Days of Summer . . .

The phrase “dog days of Summer” refers to the hottest most sultry days of Summer.  I dont know about other parts of the country, but right now it is so hot on the East Coast that stepping outside almost takes your breath away.  As the heat index rises, my tootsies have a tendency to swell a bit, so now more than ever comfort is key.  My mission for finding good looking, comfortable yet fashionable shoes is an ever-present quest because this is a combo that is truly hard to find!

During my time off I spent A LOT of time in flats and I gotta tell you, I love a FAB heel but there’s nothing like your feet feeling good all day.  My brand new all time favorites are FitFlops.  I’d never seen them or heard of them until two weeks ago, and now everywhere I look I see people wearing them. (I may just be late to the party, but I’m glad I finally arrived!) The FitFlop tag line is “It’s the flip-flop with the gym built in.  Put on a pair and get a workout while you walk.”  I can’t vouch for the workout while you walk , but they make me feel as if I’m walking on a bed of marshmallows – and if I’m getting a great workout to boot, who am I to complain?

Now, if truth be told, my feet have never felt anything but good in a pair of Birkenstocks.  I know they conjure up crunchy granola, but once you wear them they feel so good that all thoughts of Woodstock will melt away.  The thing that makes Birkenstocks special is that the footbed is created to mimic the shape of a healthy human foot, so they’re “anatomically correct” (which is more than I can say for any pair of Manolos I’ve ever owned!).  German powerhouse, Heidi Klum, has taken her countrymen’s shoes to a new level, same footbed but designer uppers.  My faves are the Gizeh, Sydney and Kairo. Goodbye Woodstock, Hello Hollywood Bowl!

Celebrities these days are swearing by Skechers as a great run-around shoe. They claim to get you in shape without having to set a foot in the gym by promoting weight loss, toning muscles and improving posture.  They’re a little clunky for me, but if they do half of what they claim to, I may have to go on and buy a pair.  And I know the Millennials swear by Havaianas, which have been around for almost 50 years so there’s definitely some there there.  Created in Brazil for those girls from Ipanema, their makers were originally inspired by the Japanese Zori sandal – the slipper of Japan, you know the rice straw soles with fabric straps- which have been around forever.  In terms of a basic flip flop, you need look no further.  One note of caution, flip flops are great in the right context.  I think you all know what I mean.  For any who aren’t sure, shoot me an email and we can chat about when and when not to wear flip flops.

Oh, and fellas – the cool thing about each of these brands is that they have shoes for both men and women.

Stay tuned as my quest for comfortable yet fashionable shoes continues!

Hiatus

Possess Your Style is going on a little break for the next few weeks.  We’ll return to your inbox on August 17th.

Hey DJ Keep Playing That Song …

iTunes has revolutionized the way we think about, listen to and interact with music.  If you don’t have an mp3 player, iPod or otherwise, stop reading go out and buy whatever will work best for you – it will change your life. I promise you.  You will become the best DJ you’ve ever known.  But, beware play a playlist for a friend and they may never look at you the same again. Style is about more than the clothes in your closet, it’s about the music you listen to, the restaurants you dine in, the neighborhood you choose to live in, and so on … the list is endless.

Back to the music you listen to – some believe  that “you are what’s on your playlist”.  For the uninitiated, a playlist is a group of songs a person can tailor to his own tastes or moods picked from her larger library music.  Recently the San Fransisco Chronicle reported that experts have weighed in on the subject and have found that our digital music libraries are a reflection of our personalities.  Experts or no, you can tell a lot about someone by the playlists on their iPods.  Music libraries, and playlists in specific, give you a window into someone’s innermost thoughts almost like a diary.  You best believe that the recruiting partner at your law firm who loves Jay-Z and works out to “Show Me What You Got” every morning, has a club outfit (she may only get there 1x a year, but she goes).  Don’t be surprised if the mod girl who works at your favorite coffee shop loves the sauve stylings of crooner Michael Buble (pronounced Bu – blay).  Or that your work BFF secretly wishes WHAM! would re-unite.

The first time an acquaintance grabbed my iPod to scroll through my playlists I was absolutely mortified because my music library is definitely reflective of my style which is multi-facted (and like the partner who works out to Jay-Z, not necessarily all parts of it are for public consumption).  But, I love music and my confidence in my musical tastes (similar to my confidence in my sense of style) far outweighed my fear of comments from the peanut gallery.  Lesson learned?  Unless you are DJ, don’t hand your iPod over to just anyone.

Vacation, all I ever wanted …

Summer has become synonymous with vacations for many of us.  The state of the economy may mean that long weekends have co-opted two week Summer vacations, but going away is going away no matter how long the trip.  Post 9/11 travel has certainly become an exercise in patience, but don’t let the new security measures prevent you from traveling In Style.   Since most airlines are now charging a minimum of $15 per checked bag (unless you’re taking an international flight), taking everything but the kitchen sink is no longer an option for most of us. You can dress comfortably and still be a stylish member of the friendly skies, the Greyhound set, or the Amtrak hoi polloi.  Choose a neutral color pallet for your trip (i.e., black, white, cream, etc.) and pack coordinating items, casual as well as dressy. Take the time to mix-and-match your outfits before packing to make sure that your coordinating items do in fact coordinate. Be strategic in your packing, really think about what you’ll need while away versus what you think you might want. Use your accessories – jewelry, purses, clutches, scarves and shawls – to dress up or dress down your outfits.  No one but you is going to be focused on whether or not you wore that pink tunic two days ago.  Shoes?  Shoes are always tricky.  They can take up lots of room, but that one special pair can really make an outfit come to life.  My general rule of thumb is to pack one heel and one flat and then coordinate outfits around the shoes. For the days you are actually in transit, opt for a great pair of jeans, a long skirt/dress or slacks over sweats.  Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that you can take off easily (if traveling by plane and you don’t have socks on, bring an extra pair in your carry-on to put on when you go through security); and dress in layers on top to insure that you’re equipped for the various temperatures you’re bound to encounter while traveling.  It is always great to have a shawl to keep you warm – it can also provide just the right pop of color to your neutral ensemble.   The perfect way to complete your stylish travel look is a great tote bag.  Use one that’s big enough to carry your essentials on board (toiletries, make up, jewelry and possibly that extra pair of shoes); if you check your bags, your clothes may get lost in space but you will arrive at your destination with the most important items in tow. This way whatever travel drama you encounter, and hopefully there will be none, you will arrive at your final destination perfectly attired and you can focus on having fun and getting into the spirit of things!

Don’t Sweat It

images-3It took until July for the dog days of Summer to finally arrive, but it’s here!! Waking up to sunshine makes me smile.  But, with hot weather comes perspiration. Admit, you sweat.  We all do.  Some of us have genetic dispositions that mean we only sweat when we’re at the gym or when it’s 95 degrees and we’re sitting on a beach with no umbrella and no breeze.  But I think we’ve all suffered from overactive arm pits at one point or another. Those genetically pre-disposed not to sweat are few and far between.

Sweating allows the body to regulate its temperature.  Evaporation of sweat from the skin surface has a cooling effect due to the latent heat of evaporation of water. Hence, in hot weather, or when the individual’s muscles heat up due to exertion, more sweat is produced. Sweating is increased by nervousness and nausea and decreased by cold.  Ok, so it’s natural but pit stains don’t look so natural when spreading out from underneath a beautiful blouse, dress or shirt.

images-1Aside from resorting to botox injections directly into your armpits, there’s very little one can do to stem the flow of perspiration.  However, my grandmother and many ladies like her back in the day, relied on something called dress shields.  Some were attached to slips and some were arm contraptions that provided a barrier between your skin and your clothing.  While not necessarily glamorous, they worked.

With the ensuing heatwave, two clients in the past week asked me to help them figure out how to prevent pit stains.  Like Hollywood Fashion Tape, dress shields are something you should have in your arsenal just in case.  There should be no shame in your game!  I’m partial to Fashion Forms, but there are a ton of brands on the market.  There is absolutely no need to worry about having pit stains this Summer!

You’d Better Shop Around …

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Frugal is as frugal does.

Are you getting ready to pull the trigger on that dress you’ve been eyeing on Bluefly? Planning to order photos on Snapfish?  Need to buy necessities at drugstore.com?  Before you click “purchase”, make sure your items are saved in your shopping cart and look around online for discount coupons.  These coupons knock off anywhere from a little bit to a lot from your purchase prices with deals that include free shipping, 10% off, $5 off and the like.  Never buy anything online without looking for a coupon first.  Simply google “[item] coupon” and websites like CouponCabin.com, Retailmenot.com, momsview.com, couponmountain.com, dealtaker.com, and gogoshopper.com will pop up – some of these sites feature over more than 1,000 online retailers.  The savings are definitely worth the extra 5 or 10 minutes that it takes to locate the coupon.  While not all of the coupons you’ll find are valid, if you persevere and are shopping at a name brand retailer – Bloomingdales, Target, Walmart, Neiman Marcus, JCrew, Saks, Victoria’s Secret,etc – you will find a coupon!   Take a moment to shop around and guarantee yourself some savings.

And you thought clipping coupons was something your Grandmother did – get with the times!

Full Figure Fashion Week

The first ever Full Figure Fashion Week (FFFW) takes place this week, June 25th – June 27th, in New York just a few blocks away from Bryant Park and the tents of the famed Olympus Fashion Week.

The event is the collective brain-child of independent fashion designers, retailers, event producers, models and plus size industry businesses to increase economic development in the area of plus size fashion design, clothing merchandising and plus size modeling. The group’s goal is to highlight the very best in plus size fashions – both retail and independent designers, while providing an inaugural showcase of talented designers, models, stylists and plus size industry businesses that serve the plus size consumer.

Approximately 40 million women, that’s 60% of  women in the United States, wear at least a size 14.  Full-figure or plus-size refers specifically to clothing labelled size 14 and upwards for women.  Historically, it’s been difficult for full figured women to find well-made stylish clothes.  The internet, however, has birthed many online retailers catering to plus size women, including eskandarOld Navy Plus, Figuresque, Torrid, iGigi, eShakti, Evans and b&lu to name a few. In fact, industry researchers actually expect the plus size clothing market to continue growing faster than the overall clothing market into 2011. With this growth comes trendy new styles that – at one time – were only made available to straight sized women.

Gwen DeVoe, the Executive Producer of FFFWeek says, “It is time for designers, retailers, boutique owners and businesses with an interest in the plus size market to combine their resources and their talents to create a memorable event that will rival all other Fashion Weeks. We are uniquely qualified to make this event a success because we work directly with plus-size consumers and know what they want. They want great fitting, fashionable clothing that is readily available in stores and online. The plus-size consumer is a loyal consumer and because quality fashion items are so hard to find, they will be loyal to brands that they like.”

Kudos to those behind this momentous event!  It’s about time that all shapes and sizes are celebrated by the fashion industry.

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Petite is defined in Webster’s as “one having a small trim figure – usually used [to describe] a woman.”  Petite-sized women account for 56% of the female population. Isnt it ironic that the fashion industry seems to based on tall thin women when a larger portion of the retail buying population is the exact opposite of the illusion created by the fashion industry? Well I guess if we learned nothing else from The Devil Wears Prada, we learned that fantasy rules the retail industry, not reality. In the retail world, manufacturers consider anyone under 5’4” petite, whether you are a size 2 or a size 16. Petite sizes aren’t just smaller than Misses sizes; if made well, they should be proportioned differently with shorter neck-to-waist and waist-to-hip measurements. Kim Williams Dahlman, a petite fashion industry expert, says, “[t]he most common misconception about petite fashions is that they are designed strictly for the diminutive woman whose size is in the single digits. Petite sizing actually is based on height, not weight. People mistakenly perceive petite as being for small women. There are a lot of women who would get a better fit with petite sizes, but they don’t realize it.”

Half the battle for those of us smaller in stature is finding clothes that are made with the proper proportions. Some manufacturers do a better job of this than others. If you find a retailer or a designer whose clothing proportions fit you perfectly, count yourself lucky and buy as much of their clothing as your budget will permit. If you’re like me and find that even though petite sizes essentially provide a better fit, but not a perfect fit, you may still need to have even your petite-sized clothes tailored. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s much easier for my tailor to tailor a petite-sized item to fit my frame than it is for her to tailor the same item in a Misses size. My motto is: The petite woman’s best friend is her tailor, not diamonds! I’m on a first name basis with my tailor, she’s one of my BFFs. Whether tall or short, thin or a bit thick around the middle, having your clothes tailored to your physique really can make all the difference.

Kalyn’s Shopping Rate of Return

Is it time for a new purse? Suit? Do you need a new cocktail dress for the round of parties you’re invited to this Summer?  It may be time for something new, but for most of us the question is, “Can I really afford to buy a new XXX right now?”  I’ve come up with an equation to help you really figure out how much one of these “needed” items may cost you, I call it KALYN’S SHOPPING RATE of RETURN:

The Relative Market Value of the Item ≑ The Number of Wears Per Year = The Expected Rate of Return on Clothing Assets

Look at it like this, most of us have, at a minimum, a few items we regret purchasing. You know, those items you haven’t worn because: (i) it looked better on the hanger in the store than it does in your closet; (ii) you thought you’d lose that 5 pounds you needed to in order for it to fit properly, or (iii) you bought it in a pinch because you didn’t have something to wear, you wore it one time and each time you reach for it you put it back because you just don’t love it … So, let’s say you’re in the process of dusting your resume off and your old interview suit as well. If your old interview suit doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks, you may want to consider buying a new one that does – think of it as an investment in your future. Now, its time to do the math. If the suit is on sale for $600 and you wear it 10 times in the next year (let’s say you wear it to 4 interviews, a Bar Mitzvah, 2 luncheons, and to work 3 times because you did get that new job), the suit only ends up costing you $60 per wear. That’s as much as you spend on Starbucks in a two-week time span …  Think it over while you sip that latte.

Shopportunities!

Shopportunities!A Shopportunity is a shopping opportunity.  A good deal.  One of those deals that makes you think that tomorrow or 6 months from now I’ll regret not having purchased this dress, pair of shoes, handbag , you fill in the blank.   A shopurtunity equals beautiful clothes that fit you well at a fraction of the retail price. It’s not a shopurtunity if the price is right but you don’t love the look or the fit. Remember to keep this little nugget in mind as you hit the racks or the online sales. Our economy has taken a turn for the worst, but the economic downturn is a fashionista’s paradise.  

Yes, I know it’s Spring, almost Summer, but now is the best time to get great deals on things like furs, cashmere and leather boots because designers and stores are trying to get rid of inventory to make room for their warm weather merchandise. Right now, buying a pair of snakeskin boots when you’re thinking about those reasonably priced JCrew t-straps seems incongruous. But, when you’re at the store ask yourself , “When November hits will I regret not having gotten those boots?” Right now they’re a steal for $125.  This Fall, a similar pair might be as much as $775.  Think about it …  

So, while you’re surfing the net or doing a little window shopping, don’t forget to look for the shopurtunities!

on-line SAMPLE SALE ALERT!!!!

WHAT: Christian Louboutin Sample Sale (no, your eyes are not deceiving you!)

WHY:  Because every girl should have a pair of his fabulous red-soled shoes. And just about every one can justify a pair at $300 a pop!!! Remember ladies, the starting price for a pair of Loo-Boos is $800.  Now,  although the powers-that-be are not really calling this one a sample sale (I believe their term is “flash sale”), for your purposes this is a sample sale, it’s just on-line.  Truth be told, the actual sample sale was a few weeks ago in New York City, but who needs to live in New York and stand in line for 2 hours when you can just let your fingers do the walking!

WHEN: Friday, May 28, 2009 – first thing in the AM!

WHERE: The OutNet

Lilly P!

Come on, admit it, The Official Preppy Handbook was once your bible.  You knew that owning a Lilly Pulitzer beach dress was a must-have for any prepster worth her weight in pink&green!  Well, Lilly Pulitzer is working to revamp its image and is hoping to appeal to chic women (especially moms) everywhere.  To celebrate it’s Jubilee, i.e., 50th Anniversary, the brand invited nine celebrity mom’s to design an exclusive pattern and signature mother/child look as part of Lilly P’s Summer ’09 collection.  The celebrity designers include:  Brooke Shields, Debra Messing, Marcia Cross, Angie Harmon, Bridget Moynahan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Bell, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon.  The celebrity moms designed for a special project called A Colorful Cause to benefit the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.  EMBRF supports research and treatment for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare, inherited skin disease which affects young children and adults.  15% of the proceeds from the celebrity designs go to support EMBRF.

The Jubilee Collection captures the wit and whimsy of Lilly P, but deftly incorporates a twist of the millennium. The collection includes resort chic tunics that will take you from poolside to party, to beach-ready bathing suits and cute dresses for the little ones.  This is not your mother’s Lilly P, but it will be something your daughters (inchoate or not) will be dying to wear!  And remember, it’s for a good cause.