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Trend spotting in D.C.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

I just returned from 5 days in Washington D.C.  I love being in another city and observing how people dress or accessorize differently (or the same sometimes) from the bay area.  Other than being floored by how many young 20-somethings smoked cigarettes, I was also struck by one other popular trend.  Many of the women in D.C., young and old alike, were carrying the “Le Pliage” tote bag by French luxury purveyor Longchamp.  I was surprised by this revelation, as I don’t see them nearly as often here in San Francisco.  You’ve seen this bag, even if you think you haven’t.  They’ve been around a long time and come in many colors and a few different sizes.  You can even customize them on the website…

Le Pliage tote

 

 

You can fold it up when travelling or when storing it, and it snaps closed securely.  Why this is a trend in our nation’s capitol is a mystery to me!  Any ideas…???

Since I am originally from the east coast and have been to D.C. many times, I have seen the vast majority of monuments, museums, and attractions.  I thought this time I would go to a few less visited places.  I ended up at the Museum of Textiles…yes, you read that right.  I am one of those fashion nerds that seek out museums that celebrate period dress, textiles, costume, etc.  This was a lovely museum off Dupont Circle amidst the beautiful embassy residences.  I also really enjoy museum stores.  The assortments are really well thought out and unique, and the merchandising is imaginative, given their small spaces.  The Textile Museum store was postage- stamp small with a wonderful array of interesting merchandise.  I found these pins by a designer in Toronto, named Cynthia Villegas and she has a wonderful website www.ladymosquito.ca .  She is Peruvian and her creations made from heavy felt are so cool!  She also has the most awesome necklaces and other accessories, check them out!

Can you LOVE a pair of shoes???

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday.  I had a wonderful party with most of my besties in attendance and had an amazing evening!   At the end of the party,  I opened gifts from my pals.  The last gift was handed to me…I unwrapped it and underneath the wrapping paper, was a Manolo Blahnik box… OMG these couldn’t be mine!  After a little hesitation I opened the box… only to find the pictured red Converse sneakers!!!

The joke was on ME!!!  I was then handed another similarly shaped box to unwrap.  This time, the box read  Jimmy ChooOK, what did this box contain, a cute pair of Haviana flip flops???   I was ready for the prank this time.  I lifted off the lid to find THESE shoes…

My new Jimmy Choos!

My jaw dropped open and a look of utter disbelief spread across my face.   These are by far the most beautiful and extravagant shoes I own!  Many of my girlfriends chipped in to buy me these gorgeous shoes for my birthday.

 

My surprised face!

 

This begs the question, can you actually LOVE a pair of shoes, handbag or article of clothing?  I guess it’s not so much love that you feel, but maybe admiration is a better word.  The leather, the workmanship and the sheer beauty of the shoes is incredible!   I have looked at these shoes non stop over the last few weeks and imagined all of the great places I’ll wear them!  Getting older certainly has it’s benefits!!!

Resolutions revisited…

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

New Years Eve has come and gone, the kids are back at school and we are left with our semi -realistic resolutions to grapple with.  I’m not sure why we make resolutions in the first place, but I’m as guilty as the next guy of making them and trying to keep them.  At the top of the list of New Years resolutions, is always the “lose weight/get in shape/ exercise more” variety.  With obesity rates skyrocketing in this country, it’s a noble goal for many.  For those of us not battling the bulge, so much as the slowly expanding midsection, I have a great product!

Much more slimming with the Booty Wrap!

Kathy Kramer started with a brainchild called the “Invisibelt”, a belt meant to smooth out the button or snap front of pants or jeans.  Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to review that product in the future.  Anyway, Kathy is truly a mother of invention.  Her newest invention is the “Booty Wrap”.  I LOVE this product!  The Booty Wrap is and piece of fabric that can be tied around your waist like a sweater or sweatshirt without the bulk or heft.  The best part is the pockets sewn in to it, that allows you to leave the house without a handbag.  The pockets can be used for credit cards, cash, cell phone, keys, etc.  The amazing part is that the Booty Wrap is actually SLIMMING and hides your behind!

 

A few months ago, I was going for a walk/hike with a friend.  She was wearing a Booty Wrap and I asked her about it.  It was perfect for stowing the few things she had to carry.  I have to say, I have been using mine for the gym, going to yoga and for walking/hiking.  I chose black and it goes with everything.  I’m going to buy a white or light colored Booty Wrap for the summer so that I can wear it with tennis clothes or to the beach/pool!  I’m a real sucker for a product that results from a need or just plain great idea, and Booty Wrap is it!  Keep it up Kathy!!!

For all you last minute “gifters”

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

You are down to the wire…it’s Christmas Eve and you don’t have gifts for all of the people on your list.  Although you vow not to let this happen yet again, here it is and you’re in the same place you were last Christmas Eve.  I have some suggestions that will help you put the ‘jolly” back in “holly, jolly Christmas”.

Giftcards are always a great option for the last minute shoppers.  EVERY major chain of grocery and drug stores has a kiosk of gift cards.  While this is certainly one option, giving the gift of a service or class is also a great gift.  What about a gift certificate for house cleaning for the busy mom, or elderly relative?  What about a gift certificate for a massage for the sports enthusiast, or a yoga class voucher for the stressed out business person?  What about a gift certificate for flowers from your favorite flower shop for a friend or relative on a tight budget?   A personal organizer for the family getting ready to move or move in.   I just sent out a gift certificate for my personal shopping services to a man who is surprising his wife and 2 daughters with their own version of “What not to wear”!  In many cases you are also giving your dollars to locally owned and operated businesses.  The ideas abound for services as gifts…

Memberships are also a favorite gift of mine.  Many people would love to get a museum or zoo membership.  Lots of moms with young children would adore getting a membership to a kids’ museum or attraction.   In this same vein, tickets to an event, that the recipient would enjoy is always welcome.  Tickets are a great way to enjoy the gift of time with a loved one, especially if they choose to bring you!    Opera, the symphony, Broadway, concerts, comedy, take your pick.

The most economical gift you can give is your time, experience or expertise.  What about a voucher for babysitting?  What parent of young children would not JUMP at the prospect of free babysitting?   What about manual labor in a loved one’s garden or around the house?  What about cooking for a stressed- out family or lonely elder…even better if you offer your company as well.

Lastly, making a donation to the charity or non-profit close to the recipients’  heart is a “can’t miss” gift.  We all have organizations that are important to us for one or many reasons.  A donation in their name or a loved one who’s passed on , can mean so much.

Thank you for reading and following my blog this year.  I‘m wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2012!!!

 

Holiday gifting made easy!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

If you’re like me, you will have started out the gift giving season strong and organized.  Much like running a marathon, you’re quick off the starting line, but then you hit the “wall”.  You start to panic, and the decision making abilities you thought you possessed are suddenly gone.  I have a few quick and easy gift ideas to help you enjoy the holidays rather than stress about them.

My first gift suggestion is a great one because it’s a “unisex” gift…great for both men and women.  It’s called a Slapwatch and I LOVE them!  They are fun, colorful, has an easy -to -see face and is reasonably priced.  They are a straight piece of plastic that curves around your wrist when “slapped” on.   The face pops out and can be inserted into a different colored band.  At around  $18 – $20 per watch, it doesn’t break the bank!

The other product I LOVE is the POCH (I, II, III, IV).  They are little rubber change purses, clutches, eyeglass holders and cell phone cases.  These are so cute and are imported from Japan.  Unfortunately, you can’t order them online yet, but I’m sure that’s coming.  They too, come in fun, bright colors that retail for around $10- $20 dollars.  This has been my “go-to” gift for many of my friends’ birthdays recently!

Both of these products are available at Pelago on Medau Place in Montclair village in Oakland, (510)339-7090. Pelago is one of my favorite stores for every kind of gift imaginable.  Owners and buyers, Mark Wallaert and Bill Fidrych, have impeccable taste.  It will take you more than one go round before you see everything in the store.  They have a knack for getting a lot of different products into a small space, and merchandising it beautifully.  They also do complimentary gift wrapping which I totally appreciate during this crazy season!

Stay tuned for more fun and easy holiday gift ideas!

New Jon Tiffany book about Eleanor Lambert…a great gift

Friday, November 25th, 2011

As shoppers flood the stores today, Black Friday, for the official start of the holiday shopping season, I thought I would offer a few gift ideas of my own.  Over the next few weeks, I have some great present suggestions for those of us who have run out of original ideas.  Some of them are local companies that offer great products, some are super original, and others just a lot of fun!

Last Friday night, I attended a book signing for a new book by Jon Tiffany called Eleanor Lambert: Still Here.  The book signing was held at Luna, a trendy boutique on Sacramento St. in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of  San Francisco.  Ian Mackintosh, the Director of Public Relations for the Academy of Art University’s school of Fashion, invited me and worked alongside Tiffany, for the iconic Eleanor Lambert.  Miss Lambert, as Tiffany always refers to her, was a public relations extraordinaire, before most people knew what a PR person was.  Tiffany is animated and fun to talk to and has an easy going way about him.  He speaks enthusiastically about both Miss Lambert and the book.  It’s easy to see that this book was a labor of love that started with an idea, was originally going to be a documentary, and ended with this beautiful “coffee table” book.

Maureen French & Jon Tiffany, author of Eleanor Lambert: Still Here

Amazon.com describes the book: Eleanor Lambert: Still Here is a look into the life, career, and accomplishments of world-renowned American press agent Eleanor Lambert, as told through the experience of her assistant and fashion historian, John Tiffany.

 John Tiffany has over 20 years of experience in public relations, event production, branding, marketing, and sponsorship projects around the world, founding his own consulting business in New York. Early on, Tiffany was mentored by the legendary Eleanor Lambert.

Jon Tiffany's book, Eleanor Lambert: Still Here

Mackintosh also worked for Miss Lambert in New York for 6 years.  Mackintosh worked for other well known fashion PR firms before making the move to San Francisco to head up public relations for the school of fashion at AAU in Downtown San Francisco.

The book has received great coverage from Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Wear Daily, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and others.

Some Eleanor Lambert trivia:
-She organized the semi-annual Fashion Press Week in New York as a coordinated schedule of  designer collections for the international press. She initiated a similar schedule for the European fashion capitals establishing the coordinated centralized showings now followed around the world.
-She founded the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and initiated the idea of the Costume Institute Gala, the preeminent social event for decades in New York.
-She founded the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
-She founded and coordinator of the International Best Dressed List (now coordinated by Vanity Fair magazine)

The book is available at amazon.com and makes a GREAT holiday gift for the fashionista in your life.

A revolution in pants!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Many months back Tina Ketchie Stearns contacted me, asking if I would try her great new product, “Go Free Pants”.  I was intrigued, to say the least.  Several weeks and pant sizes later, my Go Free pants arrived.  I chose the 5- Pocket Jean in Black.  I was thrilled to get them and tried them on immediately.  Here is what Tina says about how and why Go Free pants came to be:

I was watching The Today Show while they were interviewing a female doctor about women’s health issues including postpartum depression, breast cancer and heart disease. Regarding bladder and yeast infections, the doctor said, “The less women wear down there, the better.” My own mother had told me that for years. About a week later, I was at our monthly “Girls Night Out”, and I told my friends what the doctor on the Today Show had said. That’s when several of my girl friends admitted that they go “commando” (no underwear). I had no idea! A few of the girls said they wear thongs to get rid of panty lines. I was a “granny pant” girl! My friends are all lovely ladies of every shape and size, but not what I imagined a thong or commando type to be. They encouraged me to try it, so I did.”

That was really the start of this new concept in pants.  You’ve heard of and probably seen the “camel toe” effect…a pant that is too tight and rides up the middle of a ladies’ privates.  NOT a flattering look!  The way the Go Free pants are constructed is really unique, because there is no middle seam, rather a sewn in “panel” that is comfortable and flattering!  The great thing about this pant is that undergarments are optional, you can wear them if you want and don’t need to if you choose.  Tina’s success is catching on and she gave many pairs of Go Free pants away to celebrities at the Oscar Week Suite Hilton Beverly Hills event she attended in February, and got fabulous reviews.

Now, what about the pants, you ask???  I loved wearing these pants!  First of all, the fabric is a cotton twill with stretch…translation, they are SOOOOO comfortable.  No more dying to get out of your pants and into your sweats when you get home.  The fabric is light enough for summer, and heavy enough for winter (at least in the San Francisco bay area).  They don’t lose their shape as the day goes on, and they really “breathe” down there!  The only issue I had was that the length is not very long.  I am 5’5” and they would have been short on someone taller.  They come in a 32” inseam and 29” for petites. One of the best selling points of these pants is that they retail for $74-$84, a really affordable price point!  Even better, Go Free pants donates a portion of proceeds to non-profits like Hospice and cancer research…a win/win all around!

Best summer shoes…ever!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

For those of you who went to high school in the 70′s…this one’s for you!  The uniform back then was bell bottom jeans with a tight fitting polyester button front top tucked in to the jeans, maybe a belt, maybe not. Add to that the requisite Dorothy Hamill haircut… think that 70′s show and you know what I mean!  I can almost hear Billy Joel’s album “The Stranger” playing in the background. 

The footwear of choice was a pair of natural toned platform wedge sandals.  The sandal was KORK-EASE!  These sandals were the real deal.  I didn’t own these, as they were too expensive on my meager babysitting earnings.  I had a knockoff pair that myself and my 2 other sisters had to dutifully pass around between us.  As you might imagine, this caused a lot of hair pulling and name calling.

Here’s the good news…these sandals are still around!  The cost is a bit steeper ($40 in the 70′s vs. $135 in 2011), but the sandal is the same!!!  I bought these back in the spring with so much anticipation, I can’t tell you.  I got them in the mail from the Korkease website and I was like a kid on Christmas morning!  I could run a marathon in these babies!  Below are the traditional style called AVA, and the slope of the wedge is so slight that you hardly even notice it…

For those of you with younger backs and feet, I love the BETTE.  A little more lift and more slope to the shoe…

Kork-ease is a Brooklyn based company that has been around since 1953.  From their website:

“Turn the clocks to the 1970s, and you couldn’t turn the corner of any street without seeing someone wearing a pair of Kork-Ease sandals. Many brands tried to copy our sandals, but none could adequately duplicate our style or success.

The Original Kork-Ease Wedge has been immortalized in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Landmark Shoe Collection – an honor bestowed to only 25 styles of footwear all-time.”

The great thing about Korkease sandals is that they have other styles that are so fun and wearable.  These sandals never seem to wear out and they develop a ‘weathered’  look that can only be acquired with time.   I love the BEATRICE as well:

Does anyone remember these shoes?  Comment about these shoes and any other trends you remember from the 70′s, I’d love to hear from you!  I love that some things don’t get replaced with newer, better, faster, etc.  You can’t really improve on a classic, can you?

Bootights, a great new product!

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sometimes you come across a product that you just want to share with EVERYONE!  That’s definitely the case with a new product called Bootights.  In the interest of full disclosure, one of their reps contacted me with information about the company and asked if I wanted to try a pair.  Well, duh, a free pair of anything, bring it on!

Created by Shelby Mason, the concept of this tight is fantastic.  It is a tight with a sock sewn in to the bottom.  With everyone and their dog wearing boots well into the summer months, this is great!  I imagine in places like NYC, Boston and Chicago, these things are worth their weight in gold during the winter months.  I wore mine last week when the SF Bay area was as cold as it gets…around the mid 40′s.  They were really comfortable, and the sock is just the right weight, not too thick and not too thin.  They kept my feet warm and comfortable, and I was on my feet all day shopping with a client.  It also seemed to have a slight massaging quality…maybe it was my imagination.

I have to say these tights were really impressive…impressive enough to make it on to Oprah and the View… click on the link to see the video.

Bootights on Oprah and The View

I imagine Bootights might also be great for a thin layer under ski pants or for cross country skiing, where your layers are a little lighter.  I also think they are great under Hunter boots or other rain boots where you really need a more substantial sock if worn with a dress or skirt.  They come in different colors and patterns and they are priced very reasonably at around $30 and available at Macy’s.  Check them out!