Tag Archive for 'Style by Kalyn Johnson'

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Skinny Jeans vs. Jeggings

After a recent couples trip to Las Vegas, my sister called to tell me that she’d bought her first pair of skinny jeans.  I know, shopping in Vegas?  But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas  . . . Anyway, so glad she moved from  boot cut to skinny! But, what about these jeggings you keep hearing about?  What’s the difference?  Is there one?  I must admit, I love my skinny jeans but now I’m smitten by the jeggings craze.

Skinny jeans are just that, skinny.  They’re totally in right now, skinny is the silhouette of the moment.  Jeggings just take skinny to the next level.  Jeggings are simply jeans + leggings.  What I love about jeggings is that you get all the comfort of leggings, but none of the casualness that plagues leggings.  Jeggings may seem like the province of the young and rail thin, but think again.  If you’re not a toothpick and you often do all sorts of maneuvers to get your jeans up over your thighs (if you’ve ever had to do a squat to get a pair of jeans on you fall into this camp), believe it or not jeggings may be for you.  Why? Because jegging fabric is much more forgiving than the denim used to make skinny jeans (jeggings have 5 -7% lyrca/spandex compared to 1-3% in skinny jeans).  And, believe it or not, the Denim gods are smiling on those of us with butts, hips and thighs – jeggings actually have a higher waist which can help to give a more flattering slimming effect.  (Hint: They suck you in in all the right places).

Ready to give jeggings a try?  Check out Cookie Johnson’s new line. Yes,  Cookie Johnson, Magic Johnson’s wife.  She started her denim line, Cj, because she couldn’t find a pair of jeans with a perfect fit (i.e., no calestentics required and properly covers her B,H & Ts).  What’s cool about Cj’s is that the back of the waistband is lined with silk, no more rough material rubbing against your backside, the back comes up higher than most designer jeans but the front are still low-rise and the back pockets are smaller than the size of your fist which helps to minimize the derriere.  And the best thing?  They range in size from 2 – 18.  Oprah swears that they’re the best jeans for real women with curves. Cj Joy Jegging -$110.

Not into jeggings, but ready to go skinny minny?  Cj has a skinny pair for you, Cj Faith jeans – $112 (pictured below left), and so does Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. NYD Jeans come with a special Lift Tuck technology that they swear will make you a full size smaller.  Hey, I’m all about illusions! Not Your Daughter’s Jeans Straight Leg – $88 (pictured below right).

And if this skinny nonsense is offending your sensabilities and you’re a true boot cut girl, here are a few pair of classic boot cut jeans that will look good on just about everyone.  Cj’s Grace Boot Cut Jean – $112, NYD’s Boot Cut Jeans- $98 and Paige Premium Denim’s Laurel Canyon Jean -$179.

The most important thing to remember when buying a pair of jeans is that the darker the denim, the slimmer you will look.  Just a little tip from me to you.  But, I LOVE crisp white jeans in the Summertime!  I also love to hear from you, please take a moment to tell me which brand of denim is your favorite and why.


Possess THIS:

The Beauty of Simplicity

In case it’s not obvious, I’m a minimalist. I absolutely love sleek lines. Isn’t this alarm clock gorgeous?  I mean really, if you wake every morning next to something so beautifully elegant, you might just wake up with a huge smile on your face despite the fact that you’ve got to get up and hit the ground running, right?   This Internet/FM radio alarm clock and media player by Sonoro brings tens of thousands of radio stations from around the world within immediate reach. Connect it to a LAN line or through wi-fi and choose a station by name, country or genre: jazz, classic, rock or from 64 additional choices, and stream your favorite music from a computer. This radio has a crisp OLED-display and matching, high quality RF (Radio Frequency for the uninitiated) remote control.  And the price?  It retails for $599, but is on sale for $386. Sonoro AU3001BL Eklipse Audio System (Black)

And if that’s a little rich for your blood, check out the less souped up version marked down from $299 to $169. Sonoro AU-4400BL Elements Audio System (Black)


The Price of Happiness

How much is too much to spend on a handbag? A pair of shoes? A dress?  A suit?  . . . We all have different thresholds based on our own incomes, lifestyles and paradigms. That said, regardless of your income-bracket, it’s sometimes difficult to justify spending what seems like an ungodly amount of money on a pair of shoes(my ungodly amount might be different from yours and yours might be different from your best friend’s, but you get my point here).  However, all of us engage in a little Retail Therapy from time-to-time.  Feeling a little down, frustrated because you have to work the weekend yet again, wading your way through a horrible break-up? It happens to all of us.  Before you know it, your fingers just start dancing all over the keyboard as you participate on that conference call and peruse Zappos, Amazonor Bluefly to find your “fix”; you know, that item that once you have  it in your possession will make you feel soooooooo much better!  A little retail therapy never hurt anyone and it’s certainly helped keep the economy afloat, but how many of those purchases have really given you more than a momentary high?

There’s a FAB pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on, but they’re really really expensive.  So, you pass on them and buy 3 other items that you like but don’t love. Duh!?!?!?!  You coulda had the FAB pair of shoes and been really happy.  Your high would come back each time you wear them!  Instead, you’ve got 3 new items that in all likelihood are going to be relegated to the back of the closet or to The Salvation Army once the shine of having something new wanes.

Lesson learned here?  We ultimately end up spending more money not buying that expensive handbag, pair of shoes, or beautiful suit because we buy to fill the void we feel by not having the item we really wanted.  Sounds crazy, right? Maybe so. Pay attention as you clean out your closet this Spring, what are you purging?  Rarely is it those coveted items that you treated yourself to (unless one’s gone beyond its shelf-life), it’s the things you bought instead of that coveted item.

I’m not advocating that you go out and spend a paycheck on a handbag.  Far from it.  My point here is, think about your Rate of Return and spend wisely rather than spending to spend.  There’s always a first time, but to date, I’ve never regretted purchasing something I really really wanted.  Spending the money is always hard for me but each time I pull out my YSL Tribute shoes, for example, they take my breath away. On the other hand, when I purge my closet each season and get rid of those filler items the regret is palpable.

[image courtesy of Chanel]

The Little Black Book of Success

Have you ever wished that you had a mentor available 24/7?  Kind of like a lifeline . . .  You know, someone with advice and words of wisdom perfectly appropriate for whatever workplace situation you happen to find yourself in at any given moment? Well, The Little Black Book of Success just might be the next best thing.   Together the authors have almost 100 years of experience navigating the corporate world successfully.  While the book is aimed at African-American women, it’s actually a book that will resonate with all women working in the corporate world seeking leadership and success. So, whether you’re in an entry level or more senior job, whether you’re in the public or private sector, the authors hope their book will help you achieve ultimate success. Possessing Your STYLE is about more than dressing stylishly; it’s also about being confident and competent in your chosen profession.  The Little Black Book of Success is a great tool to help you Possess Your STYLE. The authors wrote the book to share their collective years of experience and knowledge so that those of us still in the trenches might benefit and then pass the torch to  future generations of leaders. Ultimately, their goal is to help women maximize their leadership potential — and possibly even exceed the expectations you have of yourself.

I’m soooo glad my friend Jennifer invited me to go to this book signing last night.  I met the authors and got to hear about their experiences and their motivation for The Little Black Book of Success. This book is a gem; it’s chockfull of wisdom that I wish I’d had when I graduated from law school.  Go ahead, check it out and fully Possess Your STYLE!

A PurpleBerry!!!!!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a little obsessed with the color purple.  My website, my blog and my Twitter page are all purple.  I don’t really know why I’m obsessed with all things purple.  I just am.  Other people like pink, blue, green, grey, brown, red, orange, yellow and black.  I like purple.   I’ve loved the color purple, and anything purple (with the exception of many grape flavored things), since I was a little girl.  If I had to pinpoint my first purple memory, it’s of my father and his fraternity brothers – Omega Psi Phi.  Their colors are purple and gold (and yes, my wedding colors were purple and gold, sounds tacky but it really was quite tasteful if I do say so myself .. come on, I’m a stylist, I have an eye for combining the not-so-obvious!).  I’m a daddy’s girl, so I guess it’s not surprising that I adopted purple as my favorite color.  Oh, and my niece Jada recently informed me that her favorite color is purple – go Jada!   I’m in good company;the artist formerly known as Prince loves purple and based on the eggplant craze, apparently lots of other folks are also obsessed with this vibrant hue.  And the folks at RIM finally got it!  They’ve created a purple, yes a purple Blackberry!  A PurpleBerry!  I’m gaga.  I absolutely LOVE my gold leopard print rhinestone Blackberry cover – it’s soooo sparkly – but I may have to trade that bad boy in and trade up to a purple BlackBerry Curve 8530.  Decisions, decisions …


Stylishly Bookish

I love to read.  I usually read 3 or 4 books at a time.  My voracious reading habit is part of what makes owning a Kindle so perfect for someone like me.  But, if I do pick up an actual book, I’m one of those weird people who prefers to read a hardcover book without the paper wrapping; and, what better way to do so than with a pretty cloth-bound book like the ones above?  They’ll look great perched just-so on my bookshelf in their rainbow of shimmer and I know one would look great peaking out of my bag too -although it will certainly weigh my bag down more than my Kindle.

As much as I love my Kindle, these new clothbound Penguin Classic Books made my heart flutter when I saw them.  They’re soooo pretty.  The covers and spines are printed with matte colored foil on cloth with designs that are timeless yet modern. I truly want to own each and every one of them.  The covers were designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, a self-proclaimed detail enthusiast.  Her penchant for detail does not disappoint.  What makes the collection so unique is that the cover of each book depicts an a central theme of the novel – waves for Homer’s The Odyssey, peacock feathers for The Picture of Dorian Gray, Scissors for Little Women and so on.  So very cool and oh so stylish!

And to think, you thought style was just about clothes.  Maybe I can convince my book club to agree that we should re-read the classics  . . .

[images courtesy of Penguin Books]

Stylish Work Spaces

What does your work space say about your personal stye?  Whether you work from home, in a cubicle, at a desk or in your own office – does your work space speak to who you are?  Are you motivated to work efficiently and effectively in your workspace?

If my desk is a mess I cant think straight.  I subscribe to the theory that a messy desk means a mind filled with chaos.  During my law firm days, unless I was totally swamped and working around the clock, I cleaned off my desk every night before heading home.  To get a jump start on the next day’s challenges, I also created a “to do” list.  Old habits die hard; although I work from home, I still try to clean my desk off regularly and make my nightly “to do” list.  Fresh flowers, photos of family and friends, interesting paperweights and a place for everything also helps to make an office your own private oasis.

Yes, that’s me sitting at my desk in my home office where I pen most of my posts. I LOVE my new office thanks to the generosity of my husband and the interior design genius of Ghislaine Vinas.  Believe it or not, I used to sit facing a brick wall at a rickety West Elm desk that had seen one too many moves.  However, it took home and office organizing expert, Lynda Foxman, to help us find a space in our home that would be an ideal work space for me but not interfere with the general flow of the apartment.

I’m a fan of the desk accessories and paper goods at Muji, The Container Store, Jonathan Adler and Unica Home.  OneKingsLane, the Gilt Groupe of home goods, also has great finds on a regular basis.  Lynda Foxman convinced me to buy file folders, paperclips and pens that fit my personality (they’re all purple of course!).  At first it seemed like a waste of money since I already had just plain old manila folders, but I found some purple folders on sale at Target and have been converted ever since.  It is nice to have folders I like to stack my papers and bills in.  There was a partner at my old law firm who only used pink legal pads, I thought she was being a bit eccentric, but maybe  her pink legal pads bring a little smile to her face while she’s burning the midnight oil.

Artwork can make a big difference too.  I know most people hang their diplomas and whatnot, but really is that what you want to look at everyday?  You know where you went to school and when you graduated; if someone else really wants to know what your alma mater is, they’ll either ask you or Google you.  Find some art that inspires you, makes you smile or makes your office inviting for both you and any visitors you may have.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your office, check out Cococozy.  A great interior design blog and website focused on stylish ideas for home and office.

What have you done to make your work space reflect your personal style?

[Photo by Mel Barlow]

Snow Day!!!

Wooo hooo!!!  We’re having a snow day here in New York – bundle up ‘cuz it’s cold outside! With the way it’s continuing to snow, I have no doubt that the snow will last through the weekend.  I’m looking forward to cuddling up with a few of my favorite magazines (Baazar for my fashion-fix and T&L to daydream about my next vacation!); a good book – I discovered Mennonite in a Little Black Dress at JFK last weekend and downloaded it to my kindle; my iTouch; a well-made latte; my favorite chocolove candy bar; and my painting my nails with my new color obsession – black diamond by China Glaze.

What are you doing during this Snowmageddon?!?!  If you’re some place sunny, please don’t rub it in!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!


Is it just me, or are we having a particularly harsh Winter?  I can’t seem to stay warm.  I am the queen of layers.   But, I’ve  learned over the years that if my head is covered and my feet are warm I’m usually good to go.  The problem is looking stylish while trying to stay warm.  It’s almost as if people just give up in this kind of weather  . . . I must admit, there are days when I’m tempted to just throw on anything to keep warm before I head out into the tundra, but I’ve done that one too many times and bumped into the wrong person (you know:  ex-boyfriend, potential client, former boss, etc).  So, I decided to take the bull by the horns and spent some time finding stylish hats, coats and boots so that I no longer have to think about what I put on when I’m heading out to fight the elements.

I got married last Fall and was consumed with All Things Bridal, so I missed much of what was on the runways for Winter 2010.  I discovered the Diane von Furstenburg Gallinet Nomad hat above, along with DIY step-by-step instructions for the frugalista, from Jazzi McG recently.  I absolutely LOVE this hat, and while the $200 price tag is a bit steep, not to mention that it’s likely out of stock, if I can find one I plan to snatch it up!  I look at it like this – finding stylish Winter hats is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack . . .   I LOVE this DVF hat and would wear all of the time, so I’d definitely get my money’s worth over the course of a Winter; remember Kalyn’s Rate of Return?  But, if I can’t find the Gallinet Nomad hat, I’ll do just what Jazzi did and attempt to make one.

My point is while this hat may be a bit much for you, literally and figuratively, stylish Winter accessories will make braving the elements so much more bearable. How?  Now, honestly, that I can’t really articulate.  But you know what it feels like to wear something and just feel good in it.  Imagine that feeling every day when you walk out your door and it’s 30 degrees but with the windchill factor it feels like 9 degrees.  It’s that je ne sais quoi that I’m talking about here.

This is the hat I fell in LOVE with last Winter – my friend Mia (one of the most stylish women I know) had it on in purple (you know I’m a sucker for purple) and I just about beat at path to Barneys to get one the next day (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery).  It’s by Fred Bare Headware, a UK company – those funky Brits again! And yes, it cost a pretty penny but I wore this hat almost every day last Winter and until I get or make the DVF one above, it will be worn just about every day this Winter.

Do your Winter accessories make your heart leap?

[images from Elle and Kalyn Johnson]

I Heart My Hermès Scarf

Hermes scarves

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

Perfect for bad hair days

Keeps my neck warm on the plane, in the subway and in over airconditioned rooms

Looks fab tied on the handle of some of my handbags

Protects my tresses from the elements and

Acts as a shawl in a pinch

My friend Karla introduced me to the virtues of owning an Hermès scarf, or scarves if you’re lucky, in 1991.  Yes, it’s been a love affair of almost 20 years.  I was a bit younger then and I confess that the idea of paying an arm&leg for a scarf that seemed somewhat old ladyish wasn’t my idea of high fashion.  But, then I saw how versatile the scarf was – Karla wore it around her neck, her waist, in her hair – and Elaine from Seinfeld even had one hung on her apartment wall.  I couldn’t afford one on my graduate school stipend, but I resolved to get one once I had a real salary.  Fast forward another graduate degree and 11 years.  My sister and I were in Paris shopping at Clingnancourt – one of the most wonderful flea markets I have ever been to – when I saw it, “Brazil”.  Black silk with pops of gold, green, brown and white.  It was second-hand, but authentic.  I dithered for a moment and then plunked down my francs; my life hasnt been the same ever since.  For the past 9 years I have collected Hermès scarves and worn one almost daily (my neck gets cold easily, so Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall at some point in time during the day my neck is wrapped up).  I’ve got them in a rainbow of colors with some of the most beautiful patterns created by designers from all over the world for the venerable house in France, but my favorite scarf is “Brazil”.  I don’t leave home without it. No matter how small my bag is, Brazil is with me.  Just like the Teddy that received a little bit too much love, Brazil was starting to look a little hagard (a spill of suntan lotion notwithstanding, the magicians at Chris French Cleaners worked their wonders on that one); I recently discovered a hole in it along one of the folds where the silk twill fibers have separated.  I was devestated initially.  Then shocked.  What have I done?!!? How could I be so careless?

I dropped Brazil off at the Hermès store on Madison Avenue a few weeks ago. Suzy, the Assistant Manager, was so nice and kind to me.  She completely understood my devastation and indulged my concerns as she wrote up my repair ticket.  Brazil is in bad shape.  I discovered another hole while showing Suzy my scarf.  So fingers crossed, the folks at Hallak Dry Cleaners (Suzy swears by them) will be able to resuscitate my baby.

Believe it or not, from time-to-time, Hermès re-issues scarves and as luck would have it, Brazil was re-issued Spring 2009 (it’s the yellow scarf in the far left panel – pretty funky, no?).  The black version has pops of purple, red, yellow, green and orange.  It’s really pretty, but it’s not my Brazil.  Each scarf has a history behind it’s creation; Brazil was designed by Laurence Bourthoumieux.

For the uninitiated, a little background information on the House of Hermès.  Originally, Hermès made harnesses and saddles for a privileged clientele but with Henry Ford’s invention of the automobile horse-power went by the wayside.  So, he applied a bit of ingenuity and began to add a line of luxury items to his inventory – boots, luggage, jewelry, home decor items, and watches.  The first scarf square to accompany the Hermès collection was produced in 1928, inspired by that worn by Napolean’s soldiers. To be ‘of its time’, the scarf was printed with the names of cars. It was a big success; eleven years later a factory for scarf production was opened in Lyon.

Each design requires:

  • nine to twelve months of research and development;
  • fifty-odd designers;
  • ideas drawn from all styles and genres; and
  • contributions from artists from all over the world, famous and not so famous.

It takes six to eight weeks to prepare as many silk-screen printing frames as there are colours in particular scarf. For instance, in 1994, the “Celebrations of the Sun-King” required 1,200 hours of work to make its 35 frames.  The printers prepare their pigments to make a palette of tonnes of printing inks. Then, the Brazilian silk is spread out on heated tables 150 metres long. This allows a batch of 100 squares, comprising forty colours, to be printed. After printing, seamstresses roll and stitch the hem of a square, by hand, in 30 to 45 minutes. The Lyonnaise factory can produce 40,000 scarves in a week. Every year, there are two collections, each consisting of a dozen designs, of which four to six are classics with the colours updated.  Hence, the re-issue of Brazil last year.

Nora Ephron said she feels bad about her neck, I don’t and I hope I never will thanks to Brazil!  I’ll keep you posted on Brazil’s condition when I get her back.  Finger’s crossed, she’ll be as good as new.

[images courtesy of Hermès]

The Virtues of Stylish Workout Gear


If working out on a regular basis is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone.  Every January, gym memberships peek as people come off of their holiday highs hoping to drop a few lbs before swimsuit season hits again.  Making the resolution is easy, following through on it is the challenge.

Crazy as this may sound, I always feel better about dragging myself out of bed to walk to the gym on dark cold mornings if I know that, while I may be a tad bit out of shape, my workout clothes are slammin’!  (For the record, James, my instructor at Physique 57, said I was his best-dressed student, what he was too nice to say is that I’m probably the least coordinated!  But I digress).  Working out in old t-shirts and ratty sweats doesn’t do it for me.  Some might argue that it doesn’t matter what you workout in just as long as you workout.  Agreed.  All I’m saying is that it’s much easier to get myself to the gym if I’m in workout gear that makes me feel good.

Workout clothes don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg – although I have seen some pretty FAB gear that I’ve just had to walk away from before I convinced myself that I would be able to run longer and faster on the treadmill if I wore it.  Now, I can be a little cheap when it comes to work out clothes; this is an area where I’m definitely looking for a bargain.  Truth be told, I’ve purchased my fair share of workout clothes from Equinox because in my haste to get there, I left a vital piece at home (um, shorts for example).  So, to balance those pricey purchases, I shop for workout gear at my favorite discount stores - Marshall’sTJ Maxx and Target. Black is slimming, or so they say, so much of my workout wardrobe consists of black items with pops of color here and there. This also makes it very easy to get dressed while I’m half asleep because just about everything goes together so I don’t have to put thought into looking good, I just have to get to the gym.  And if I fall off the wagon, I don’t feel badly about having wasted money on expensive workout clothes . . .

Now, if none of this is your cup of tea, our friends on the other side of the pond conducted a study found shopping to be healthy exercise – we burn 5 calories for every minute of shopping (who knew?!?!).  So, rather than go to the gym, grab your purse and your best shopping bud and head to the nearest mall to burn off those extra lbs!

[image from WellSphere]

Pretty or Ugly?: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Mary Green Tiffany Sleep Mask


The other day I mentioned that I love Mary Green’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s sleep mask, but said that it might be a little flashy for some.  Well, here it is.  What do you think?  Pretty or Ugly?  Audrey Hepburn wore a similar mask in Breakfast at Tiffany’s when Holly Golightly was awakened by Fred (a.k.a Paul, played by George Peppard) in one of the opening scenes.  I admit, it’s a bit much  . . . but that’s what makes it fun too!  Please weigh in and tell me what you think – Pretty or Pretty Ugly?  . . .

[images courtesy of Mary Green and Paramount Studios]