Splurge or Steal?

by Tracy James


Sometimes, after careful consideration, there are items we feel worth the investment. Sometimes we just want a quick fashion fix. The options are always there, so you decide!

Lanvin, $2,790:

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Steal, $24-$265:


How to Pack Like a (Chic) Pro

by Tracy James


Buffy York of The Style Gathering asked me to contribute to her fabulous blog, with some advice on how to reduce the stress of packing for summer trips (and avoid overpacking!), whether business or pleasure. So hop on over to The Style Gathering for my tips and tricks!

Packing Like a Pro - guest post on The Style Gathering

A "must-have" travel product mentioned in the article is wrinkle release spray. I use the Downy brand, but there are plenty of options out there, like for those who might prefer all-natural or fragrance-free.

Internship Posting

by Tracy James


Seeking a 1 month summer Intern (age 16 & up welcome) to begin Monday, July 6th, ending Friday, July 31. Weekly hours will vary, some weekend work may be required. Internship is unpaid, for course credit or experience only. Tasks to include assisting Tracy with clients (shopping & closet revamps), fashion editorials, on photo shoots, at style seminars and daily at Fashion Camp (7/9-7/31, 9am-2pm each day). Fashion experience and writing skills preferred but not required. If interested and for more information, please send an email to tracy@chicmadesimple.com with "Internship" in the subject line.


Bye-Bye Bags (undereye, that is)

by Tracy James


 

From Preparation H (gross) to green concealer (been there, done that), women have tried just about everything to tackle undereye circles and bags. I don't know about you, but I've never found anything that works. Well, my fellow bloggers and I were blown away tonight at the MD Wellness & Aesthetics Grand Re-Branding event to see in action Instantly Ageless, a powerful anti-wrinkle microcream that acts quickly and effectively to diminish the visible signs of aging. Peeps, I'm here to tell ya, this stuff actually works!! Lindsey Lutz of Life Lutzurious graciously volunteered her pretty peepers to the cause, and HELLO?!..look at her results!! The "After" picture was taken 2 minutes after the first - it looks like she has been photo-shopped under her eyes! 

Let me reiterate that the photo on the right is NOT retouched! That's Lindsey just 2 minutes after applying Instantly Ageless to her under-eye area.

Let me reiterate that the photo on the right is NOT retouched! That's Lindsey just 2 minutes after applying Instantly Ageless to her under-eye area.

Apparently the key ingredient is argireline: a peptide that works like Botox, without the needles. Here are the benefits claimed by Instantly Ageless, and I gotta say, none are BS! 

-VISIBLY DIMINISHES THE APPEARANCE OF FINE LINES & WRINKLES

-ERASES THE APPEARANCE OF DARK CIRCLES & PUFFINESS UNDER THE EYES

-MINIMIZES THE APPEARANCE OF PORES

-HELPS TO EVEN SKIN TEXTURE

-MATTES SKIN FOR A FLAWLESS FINISH

-RESTORES SKIN TO OPTIMUM APPEARANCE

Here's the bottom line: Instantly Ageless comes in a package of 50 applications, each of which lasts til you wash your face, and costs $75, which equals out to about $2.50 per day. Seems like a reasonable price to pay to get rid of some baggage! Swing by MD Wellness & Aethetics in Inverness Corners to pick up some and try for yourself!  


Printed Britches (How to Wear them & Not Look Like Wallpaper)

by Tracy James


"Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking." OK, so Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada had a point. But it wouldn't be spring if we weren't ditching our dark winter duds for bright prints. While florals (feminine to funky) certainly abound for spring/summer 2015, a variety of other patterns are splashing their way across garments this season. Of those garments, my hands-down favorites are the cute, semi-dressy shorts in stores now. (Full disclosure: I have a bit of a shorts addiction, owning no less than 20 pair.) Not comfortable in shorts? Not to worry...there are just as many super chic printed pants out there that offer the same advantages as the shorts: eye-catching style and fabulous comfort.

A print with a black background makes these shorts easily transition from day to nighttime wear. Feather print shorts and top from Fab’rik Homewood

A print with a black background makes these shorts easily transition from day to nighttime wear. Feather print shorts and top from Fab’rik Homewood

I love mixing prints and textures. This BCBG top and shorts combo at Belk at The Summit has a a bohemian vibe, but is also simple and polished. One quality I like about shorts is that they are unfussy.

I love mixing prints and textures. This BCBG top and shorts combo at Belk at The Summit has a a bohemian vibe, but is also simple and polished. One quality I like about shorts is that they are unfussy.

Palazzo pants are back! Resist the urge to go matchy-matchy, and instead, pair printed palazzos with a neutral top. And to keep proper proportions, select a fitted or slightly cropped top (as shown with the Flying Tomato boho hippie palazzo in magenta). Image credit: shopwsw.com

Palazzo pants are back! Resist the urge to go matchy-matchy, and instead, pair printed palazzos with a neutral top. And to keep proper proportions, select a fitted or slightly cropped top (as shown with the Flying Tomato boho hippie palazzo in magenta). Image credit: shopwsw.com

Shorts with pockets? Bonus!! Heels with shorts? If your gams are game, go for it. In keeping with the summery feel, stick to open-toe styles, like sandals and wedges. Animal print shorts and flowy crop top from Fab’rik Homewood.

Shorts with pockets? Bonus!! Heels with shorts? If your gams are game, go for it. In keeping with the summery feel, stick to open-toe styles, like sandals and wedges. Animal print shorts and flowy crop top from Fab’rik Homewood.

My affinity for printed shorts and pants is in part because I like fashion that defies predictability. When I work with clients who are style beginners, I initially teach them to "paint by the numbers," so to speak. Solid-colored wardrobe staple bottoms, paired with printed tops. But once they have that down, I offer tips and tricks to spice things up - how to mix patterns, create creative color combos, etc. Or, simply reversing the initial formula, and selecting printed bottoms and solid tops. There's something about boldly printed shorts and pants that seem slightly impractical and thus frivolously fun. As if to say, "Take THAT, boring black pants and khaki shorts!"

A great example of how to make printed britches office-appropriate: a slim-cut pant with a ladylike heel and something tailored on top. Remember, when it comes to pants length, ankle = yes! Cropped, never! Image credit: crushculdesac.com

A great example of how to make printed britches office-appropriate: a slim-cut pant with a ladylike heel and something tailored on top. Remember, when it comes to pants length, ankle = yes! Cropped, never! Image credit: crushculdesac.com

Don’t think this trend can only be worn by the younger gals. Paired with the right elements, it can be rocked by women of any age. Image credit: gurl.com

Don’t think this trend can only be worn by the younger gals. Paired with the right elements, it can be rocked by women of any age. Image credit: gurl.com

Flat-front shorts, like these from Trina Turk at Belk at The Summit, are usually the most flattering. Only choose shorts with pleats if you have a slim middle. Some mistakenly think pleats camouflage girth, when in fact they add volume.

Flat-front shorts, like these from Trina Turk at Belk at The Summit, are usually the most flattering. Only choose shorts with pleats if you have a slim middle. Some mistakenly think pleats camouflage girth, when in fact they add volume.

A question I often receive is, "Can women with pear-shaped figures wear print on the bottom?" The answer is YES. To borrow a phrase from my mentor stylist Tim Gunn, I am a "make it work" kind of girl. Dressing to flatter involves camouflaging those areas we aren't crazy about and highlighting our attributes, and while there are many tricks of the trade to achieve this, in most cases, keeping proportion in check is key. Therefore, if you are pear shaped, a slim ankle or track style printed pant, paired with a loose top may be a better bet than a loose, flowy palazzo pant. That said, I am a big fan of wearing what you love and makes you happy, so if you love the printed palazzo pants, wear 'em! Just pair with a shorter, more fitted top to avoid looking overwhelmed or tented.     

Funky, snake-print, palazzo pants from Fab’rik Homewood. What are palazzo pants anyway? Palazzos flare out evenly from the waist to the ankle, and are therefore different from bell bottoms, which are fitted until they flare out from the knee and also from gauchos, which only extend down to mid-calf length. Harem pants are yet another loose style, but they have a snug cuff around the ankles. $54 at fab’rik in Homewood

Funky, snake-print, palazzo pants from Fab’rik Homewood. What are palazzo pants anyway? Palazzos flare out evenly from the waist to the ankle, and are therefore different from bell bottoms, which are fitted until they flare out from the knee and also from gauchos, which only extend down to mid-calf length. Harem pants are yet another loose style, but they have a snug cuff around the ankles. $54 at fab’rik in Homewood

Track pants, just like the name implies, are simply gussied-up versions of what you wore to run cross country in junior high. They offer a bit more options for tops—wear tucked, untucked or half-tucked, loose or fitted. If you have wider hips or tummy trouble, you may want to pair with a blousy top that covers these areas. Fashion is all smoke and mirrors, my friends! Image credit: MichaelKors.com

Track pants, just like the name implies, are simply gussied-up versions of what you wore to run cross country in junior high. They offer a bit more options for tops—wear tucked, untucked or half-tucked, loose or fitted. If you have wider hips or tummy trouble, you may want to pair with a blousy top that covers these areas. Fashion is all smoke and mirrors, my friends! Image credit: MichaelKors.com

Easy breezy: these silk pants by Haute Hippie in a soft floral are in a silhouette many figures can wear. Image credit: luckyshops.com

Easy breezy: these silk pants by Haute Hippie in a soft floral are in a silhouette many figures can wear. Image credit: luckyshops.com

When it comes to shorts, many ask about proper length. Inseams range from 3" to full Bermuda, and your choice is a personal preference based on age, leg shape, etc. The 3" and 4" inseams are the most prevalent, but if you are more comfortable in a longer length, selecting a slim cut will keep the look current.

‘Tweens and teens can wear shorter, fitted styles. A high waist and demure top tempers the short length. Image credit: gurl.com

‘Tweens and teens can wear shorter, fitted styles. A high waist and demure top tempers the short length. Image credit: gurl.com

Remember your favorite Umbro shorts? These are the grown-up version, in cute prints on silly fabric with a comfy loose fit and drawstring or elastic waist (which, hopefully it goes without saying, is worn with an UNtucked top). Pictured: shorts by Dance & Marvel and TCEC, from Mia Moda

Remember your favorite Umbro shorts? These are the grown-up version, in cute prints on silly fabric with a comfy loose fit and drawstring or elastic waist (which, hopefully it goes without saying, is worn with an UNtucked top). Pictured: shorts by Dance & Marvel and TCEC, from Mia Moda

Simple, but chic, formula: printed short + solid-color tee. A half tuck works great with shorts, especially those with drawstrings. Image credit: lovely-pepa.com

Simple, but chic, formula: printed short + solid-color tee. A half tuck works great with shorts, especially those with drawstrings. Image credit: lovely-pepa.com

So pick the printed britches that speak to you - floral, abstract, graphic, painterly - there is an option for everyone. Find the one that best expresses your own personal style. 

Note: this article was originally published on 5/7/15 as a guest post for StyleBluerprint


Lilly Pulitzer & Milly Collaborations Arrive at Target & Kohl's

by Tracy James


Designer collaborations with discount stores have been all the rage for the past several years. The Lilly Pulitzer limited-edition collection for Target lands in stores early Sunday, April 19. Then on April 23, Kohl’s will debut MILLY for DesigNation, also a limited-time collection.

Target’s Lilly Pulitzer collection is huge - as in 250 pieces! - including apparel, accessories and shoes for both women and girls, along with outdoor entertaining décor, beach gear, travel accessories and home accents. Prices range from $2 to $150, with most less than $30. Some items will be sold online only, like plus-size clothing, a new and welcome offering for the brand. Along with scarves, sandals, totes and clutches, clothing choices include a palm print jumpsuit for $44; eyelet shorts, $26; palazzo pants, $28; and strapless maxi dresses, $34, and shift dresses, $38, in different prints. Check out the rather innovative webpage for the promotion, where you can "mingle" at a party of Pulitzer-decked guests via a 360 degree virtual tour. Check out the party and the Collection Lookbook here

Lilly Pulitzer, a Palm Beach hostess, founded the brand in 1959 after making print dresses to hide the juice stains that happened while working in her husband’s citrus grove juice stand. The dresses caught on with those in her social circle. Pulitzer died in 2013, but her iconic brand continues.

Kohl’s MILLY collection was inspired by designer Michelle Smith’s trip to Capri. Influenced by her Parisian training at Christian Dior Haute Couture, Louis Vuitton and Hermes, Smith is known for merging American sportswear with French style. 

The 71 pieces of women’s apparel feature stripes and florals, and  include conversational T-shirts, full skirts with sheer detail, feminine dresses, pencil skirts, shorts and jumpsuits in a chic but Prices range from $38 to less than $100. Browse the Milly for Kohl's offerings here.

Both collections are expected to be a hit, with sell outs in a short amount of time.

 


Spring Awakening

by Tracy James


One of my favorite aspects of Spring is designers bringing color to the fashion party. While the versatile neutrals of winter - black, grey, cream - are always comforting and classic, by the time warmer weather finally rolls around, my visual senses are ready to be reawakened! And Spring 2015 has not disappointed! Hues run the gamut from the softest blush pink to the boldest orange and cobalt. Shopping in Gus Mayer today, I loved seeing all of the shades of this season represented all over the store - in shoes, cosmetics, accessories and clothing. 

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Prints abound in a variety of ways - florals, abstracts, graphics, and painterly designs. Add a colorful handbag or jewelry piece for a fashion forward mix, or let your accessories pack all of the punch against a clean slate of head-to-toe white. When it comes to cosmetics, Chanel has a new collection of both delicates and bolds. I've officially traded in my vampy winter nail polish for more delicate and bright shades, so I want to try Paradisio, a super-soft icy green, and Desirio, a vibrant berry-licious pink. Sun-kissed hair and (faux) bronzed skin looks great complimented with a shimmery lip gloss. Kevin Aucoin's glosses have been a recent fave of celebs.

So now that I've got you making out your wish lists as I was today, here's some good news - Gus Mayer is offering TAX FREE shopping ALL DAY this Thursday, April 9, in conjunction with their Girl's Night Out event that evening, 4PM-8PM. In addition to the tax-free shopping, the event will feature a Style Bar showcasing the latest trends, a Color Lab at which you can discover the best way to freshen your look this Spring, and of course, hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and prizes throughout the night. Come one, come all - it's April, peeps! Spring has officially arrived! 

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Calling all Fashion Campers!

by Tracy James


Registration is now OPEN for my 8th annual ORIGINAL Fashion Camp at Brookwood Village, THE day camp for budding fashionistas aged 5-13! With various date choices throughout July, visit the official page for information on this year's fun agendas and how to register. Don't miss the chance for your mini-fashionista to attend this confidence-building camp that launched all of the others!

Activities include:
□ the ever-popular "Accessories Game" at Claire's
□ how to care for & style your tresses at Belk Salon
□ how to match & coordinate clothing pieces
□ learning the proper names for various handbag styles, shoes, sunglasses and fabric patterns
□ a sit-down lunch with etiquette lesson
□ end of day runway show


When It Comes to Accessories, Don't Paint by the Numbers

by Tracy James


Just as I try to avoid being too "matchy-matchy," I've never been a fan of jewelry that comes as a set. This is just a personal preference, mind you, but there's something about the matching pieces that is too predictable for me…a bit too "paint by the numbers." There's no decision to be made, no creative hand to play. Alternately, when jewelry pieces are mixed, it creates a feeling that one is wearing collected pieces, thus making the overall look more interesting, and in my opinion, making the pieces themselves appear more expensive.

So I have been delighted by the trend that began several years ago of layering necklaces and stacking bracelets, as this truly presents the opportunity for custom accessorizing. This is a great example of a trend that can be interpreted in a way that fits your lifestyle, age and personal style. You can layer/stack traditional, preppy pieces or artsy/funky pieces, and everything in between. As designer Kate Spade said, "Accessories are what make an outfit just a little bit more YOU."

No where have I seen this on better display then at the recent Valentine's event at Diamonds Direct. The place was packed with individuals and couples from all walks of life, each coming in to find pieces that reflected their own personalities. The jewelry line highlighted for the evening, 
Gabriel & Co., had a variety of pieces that could be mixed and matched. (I know, because I created several custom combos!) From delicate gold necklaces that when layered give the effect of passed-down heirlooms, to hip silver shapes, some sprinkled with stones, that would make any fashionista swoon. Perhaps because I animatedly speak with my hands, and because the hands and wrists are such a visible and oft-noticed part of one's body, I am a big fan of bracelet stacks. I especially love a stack that tells a story… one bracelet a gift from a special someone, another a souvenir from a favorite destination, and so on. I have no problem mixing costume jewelry with fine pieces. (Gabriel & Co's simple, slim diamond cuff looked fab added to my own bracelets I wore to the event.) The point is to actually WEAR your jewelry - too many leave it in the safe, waiting for a special occasion! 

While watching the action at the event, it occurred to me that Diamonds Direct has truly tapped into the modern way of selling jewelry - offer gorgeous choices and let the customer customize. For it is those items that we feel reflect our personalities the best that we love the most.


ChicTip

by Tracy James


A client with a difficult-to-fit calf recently reported back a rave review on a pair of boots to which I had directed her, so I thought I should pass along my source!  When searching for tall boots, many of my clients have issues resulting from either skinny or wide calves. Because I know the styles and brands to look for, I can often find workable pair, but when that fails, I turn to DUO BOOTS. This UK based company handcrafts each season’s unique collection of boots in up to 21 calf sizes. In addition, they have recently added shoes and ankle boots in three width fittings: narrow, standard and wide. Sophisticated, made-to-measure style with a tailored fit. Prices are much more reasonable than you would expect, with free shipping worldwide. New customers receive 15% off.


Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards Style Recap

by Tracy James


The SAG Awards is the particular awards show that makes us non-actors a little envious of the esteemed club of which we are not a part. They do seem like a fun lot. Unlike at the Golden Globes, fortunately at this event, the "worst dressed" list is a little shorter. Opinions varied wildly among the style critics, with some listing the same dress among the Best that another media outlet deemed the Worst. Here's my humble opinion on the matter.

BEST DRESSED

1. Lupita Nyong'o in Elie Saab

What a gorgeous combination of color and print. I'm a big fan of print, and it's not super prevalent on the red carpet, so I get excited to see it worn successfully. This gown proves one doesn't have to show a ton of skin or curves to be dramatic. Another aspect of this style that I love is that hues and long sleeves is season appropriate for January, something that (understandably) in California and on the red carpet is overlooked.

What a gorgeous combination of color and print. I'm a big fan of print, and it's not super prevalent on the red carpet, so I get excited to see it worn successfully. This gown proves one doesn't have to show a ton of skin or curves to be dramatic. Another aspect of this style that I love is that hues and long sleeves is season appropriate for January, something that (understandably) in California and on the red carpet is overlooked.

2. Reese Witherspoon in custom Giorgio Armani and Tiffany & Co/Harry Winston jewels

Again the actress chose to go classic with her look, and again does so successfully. I would've liked to see some volume in the crown of her hair, making her ponytail look a little more special.

Again the actress chose to go classic with her look, and again does so successfully. I would've liked to see some volume in the crown of her hair, making her ponytail look a little more special.

3. Kaley Cuoco in Romona Kaveza gown and Forevermark jewels

A beautiful shade of red made this simply cut but perfectly fit gown a hit. That haircut is hard to pull off, but she does it with flying colors. My only complaint is the subtle but visible tan lines on her best. C'mon, Kaley, that's an amateur mistake! 

A beautiful shade of red made this simply cut but perfectly fit gown a hit. That haircut is hard to pull off, but she does it with flying colors. My only complaint is the subtle but visible tan lines on her best. C'mon, Kaley, that's an amateur mistake! 

4. Jennifer Anniston in Vintage Galliano 

Now THIS is what we expect from Jen...a glam but slightly bohemian look that shows off that fabulous body, sunkissed skin and beachy locks. Looking like a golden goddess in a gown covered in peacock-print beading from Galliano's Spring 1998 collection. She played up the plunging neckline with a long chain necklace by Amrit and earrings and a bracelet by Fred Leighton.

Now THIS is what we expect from Jen...a glam but slightly bohemian look that shows off that fabulous body, sunkissed skin and beachy locks. Looking like a golden goddess in a gown covered in peacock-print beading from Galliano's Spring 1998 collection. She played up the plunging neckline with a long chain necklace by Amrit and earrings and a bracelet by Fred Leighton.

5. Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Monique Lhuillier

Yet again, this funny lady (who I adore in VEEP) is spot on, choosing a dress that is flattering, age appropriate for a 54-year-old and fits absolutely flawlessly. 

Yet again, this funny lady (who I adore in VEEP) is spot on, choosing a dress that is flattering, age appropriate for a 54-year-old and fits absolutely flawlessly. 

6. Paula Patton in Aiisha Ramadan gown and Kimberly McDonald jewels

The actresses' olive skin glows in this gorgeous white beaded-head-to-toe gown.

The actresses' olive skin glows in this gorgeous white beaded-head-to-toe gown.

7. Sophia Vergara in Donna Karen Atelier

In a gown that showed off her jaw-dropping figure, Vergara and hunky fiancé Joe Manganiello definitely took the prize for Best Looking Couple. And check out that engagement ring!

In a gown that showed off her jaw-dropping figure, Vergara and hunky fiancé Joe Manganiello definitely took the prize for Best Looking Couple. And check out that engagement ring!

8. Danielle Brooks in Christian Siriano

Props to young designer (and Project Runway winner) Christian Siriano for designing such a lovely and well-fitting dress for a plus-size woman, a category oft ignored in the fashion market. Add to that the right hairstyle and makeup and you have an example of what it looks like when all of the pieces come together. The best part of Brooks' look is her shining visible confidence.

Props to young designer (and Project Runway winner) Christian Siriano for designing such a lovely and well-fitting dress for a plus-size woman, a category oft ignored in the fashion market. Add to that the right hairstyle and makeup and you have an example of what it looks like when all of the pieces come together. The best part of Brooks' look is her shining visible confidence.

MOST IMPROVED 

Rosamund Pike in Dior Haute Couture dress and shoes

Compared to the Golden Globes surgical mask DIY disaster of a dress, this billowed hi-low frock featuring floral appliqué and a detailed train is a step up. Clearly the actress wants to stand out from the crowd on the red carpet, and - for better or worse - she achieved that in this dress. One could speculate that the desire to tent her figure stems from her giving birth less than 2 months ago, although knowing Hollywood, her stomach is probably as flat as ever. I do applaud her for keeping her shoes simple, showing off her pretty legs. Simply put, this is one of those dresses that I can't decide whether it pleases or disgusts me - either way, it was memorable, thus worth mentioning.

Compared to the Golden Globes surgical mask DIY disaster of a dress, this billowed hi-low frock featuring floral appliqué and a detailed train is a step up. Clearly the actress wants to stand out from the crowd on the red carpet, and - for better or worse - she achieved that in this dress. One could speculate that the desire to tent her figure stems from her giving birth less than 2 months ago, although knowing Hollywood, her stomach is probably as flat as ever. I do applaud her for keeping her shoes simple, showing off her pretty legs. Simply put, this is one of those dresses that I can't decide whether it pleases or disgusts me - either way, it was memorable, thus worth mentioning.

SAME SONG, SECOND VERSE 

Emma Stone in Dior

I didn't think Stone deserved being on the Worst list, as - like she did at the Golden Globes by wearing a black and silver jumpsuit with a train - I admire her effort to be edgy and different. But that's just the problem - this look has too similar of a feel to that look, thus making it not that different at all. I would have been more impressed to see Emma Stone in a colorful gown (like her 2011 Golden Globes peach Calvin Klein), which would've showed her ability to be a chameleon.

I didn't think Stone deserved being on the Worst list, as - like she did at the Golden Globes by wearing a black and silver jumpsuit with a train - I admire her effort to be edgy and different. But that's just the problem - this look has too similar of a feel to that look, thus making it not that different at all. I would have been more impressed to see Emma Stone in a colorful gown (like her 2011 Golden Globes peach Calvin Klein), which would've showed her ability to be a chameleon.

WORST DRESSED

1. Amanda Peet in J.Mendel

Yet again, Peet easily makes the Worst list. Please, Amanda, do your career a favor and fire your stylist.

Yet again, Peet easily makes the Worst list. Please, Amanda, do your career a favor and fire your stylist.

2. Naomi Watts in Balenciaga

In fairness, I am usually not a fan of off-the-shoulder silhouettes such as this one, even on a narrow frame like Watts'. But what really landed this dress on the Worst list for me was the tinsel-like edging on the neckline. For the record, I love her accessories. And the navy color. The tinsel just kills the look for me.

In fairness, I am usually not a fan of off-the-shoulder silhouettes such as this one, even on a narrow frame like Watts'. But what really landed this dress on the Worst list for me was the tinsel-like edging on the neckline. For the record, I love her accessories. And the navy color. The tinsel just kills the look for me.

3. Amy Ryan in Honor

This feels like an ensemble for a lawn party at Lilly Pulitzer's house, not a red carpet. Throw in the unflattering shape and - oh dear - white shoes with bows (???), and this look quickly goes down the tubes.

This feels like an ensemble for a lawn party at Lilly Pulitzer's house, not a red carpet. Throw in the unflattering shape and - oh dear - white shoes with bows (???), and this look quickly goes down the tubes.

4. Jared Leto in a black tuxedo a Louis Leeman loafers

Leto's look can be summed up in the same way as all of his other looks of late: "For the love of God, cut that hair and beard!" 

Leto's look can be summed up in the same way as all of his other looks of late: "For the love of God, cut that hair and beard!" 

5. Joan Collins in a sequined...something

First of all, Joan Collins is still alive? Second, this look is not convincing me of that.

First of all, Joan Collins is still alive? Second, this look is not convincing me of that.

FREAKY FRIDAY

Julie Bowen and Ariel Winter

As in the 1976 classic Jodie Foster flick, I wanted Julie Bowen and her Modern Family daughter Ariel Winter to switch places for the night. Bowen's sweet pastel floral appliqué Georges Hobeika Couture gown seemed much too juvenile for the 44-year-old, while 16-year-old Winter looked well beyond her years in a Zac Posen number, rockin' those curves and cleavage! To be fair, small-framed Bowen doesn't have near the figure to pull off Winter's dress, and Winter's full figure wouldn't look right in Bowen's dress...but nonetheless I would've liked to see both of them in something more age appropriate. 

As in the 1976 classic Jodie Foster flick, I wanted Julie Bowen and her Modern Family daughter Ariel Winter to switch places for the night. Bowen's sweet pastel floral appliqué Georges Hobeika Couture gown seemed much too juvenile for the 44-year-old, while 16-year-old Winter looked well beyond her years in a Zac Posen number, rockin' those curves and cleavage! To be fair, small-framed Bowen doesn't have near the figure to pull off Winter's dress, and Winter's full figure wouldn't look right in Bowen's dress...but nonetheless I would've liked to see both of them in something more age appropriate. 


Even Fashionistas Get the Blues

by Tracy James


As "wardrobe prepared" as I like to think I am, that does not immunize me from the occasional malfunction. Just yesterday I was expressing love for my "travel boots," my oh-so-comfy tall waxed leather Clarks (not the sexiest brand, but a guilty pleasure of more than one in the fashion biz) that have pounded the pavement of many a city, this week the streets of Chicago. Had I followed the advice I would have given a client, I would have had said boots preemptively repaired at the beginning of winter when I realized the zipper of one was a bit sticky. But instead, as I slipped on the right boot this morning...you got it, the zipper gave out. Unlike some wardrobe malfunctions that can be temporarily repaired with a bit of creative rigging, there was no fixing this baby. I always carry a few safety pins, which come in handy for a broken bra strap or snagged hem, but 2 pins wasn't going to do the trick here.

Because I like to pack light, the only other pair of shoes that traveled with me were my suede stiletto platform booties - perfect with a sweater dress and tights for dinner out, but not so much with my BCBG skinny pants and heavy Burberry sweater for a day during which I would surely log 16,000+ steps on my Jawbone...not to mention the risk of unsightly frostbite on my ankles.

So what's a girl ready to hit the streets of Chicago to do? I'm proud to report I solved my issue within 30 minutes, here's how:

1. After changing my brunch reservation via Open Table to give me a cushion of an additional 30 minutes, I Googled Clarks, finding there was one only 3 blocks away (the benefit of staying in a hotel on the Magnificent Mile).

2. I fastened my boot together with the 2 safety pins I had, not winning any beauty contests, but improvising enough to get me 3 blocks. (If only I had about 100+ more, I could've resurrected the vibe of Elizabeth Hurley's infamous 1994 Versace dress.) 

3. Walking out of the hotel, I telephoned Clarks to alert them of my dilemma, asking salesperson Jake to pull every similar black boot in my size (for travel boots, I always buy a 1/2 size larger to accommodate a full gel insert) and set aside for me.

4. Arriving at Clarks a mere 10 minutes later, Jake was still setting out options, but in looking at the styles already before me, my choice was clear. I had already decided my skilled cobbler back home could indeed replace my zipper, so I knew I didn't want to get a second pair exactly like them. Therefore, I eliminated those styles. As for the others: wedge boots - got 'em, laced boots - 'got em. The only style not represented in my closet were the moto mid-boots that were the first I spied among the choices. Add to that the durable lug sole and waxed leather finish, not to mention the 50% off price...sold!

5. After grabbing my gel insoles from my old boots and inserting them into the new (since my insoles were already molded to my foot, this took out any worry of having to "break in" the new boots), I popped the old boots into the box of the new boots and handed them to Jake, who was going to ship them back to Birmingham.

I was in the store barely more than 10 minutes, thus still made my brunch reservation in River North. Today was a day I was able to demonstrate my motto (borrowed from mentor Tim Gunn), "Make it work!"


Close to the Vest

by Tracy James


I love a good vest. All kinds - fur, puffer, leather, jersey, wool...all year round - over turtlenecks, with jeans, over dresses, with shorts, etc. This added element to an outfit can add interest, depth, color or texture and make an outfit appear more complete, more polished. Not only is a vest smart for us Southerners from a climate standpoint, but ultimately, it can be highly flattering. Who needs a better reason than that to try this garment? See the versatility of the vest in this picture gallery of some of my favorite picks currently in stores.

Theory "Zita" Leather Moto Vest, $895

Elie Tahari "Tonya" Vest, $348

Johnny Was Linen Vest, $64

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Elizabeth & James, $345

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Theory "Jala" Asymmetrical Ruffled Double-Breasted Vest, $375

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Rebecca Taylor Buff Leather Vest, $449

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Theory "Womira" Lofty Quilted Vest, $695

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Ambition Military Vest, $64

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Essentiel "Hillbilly Rothko" Faux Fur Vest. $288

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Escada "Meg" Vest, $555

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Rebecca Taylor Floral Leather Vest, $348

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St. Laurent Embellished Suede Gilet, $4790

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Haute Hippie, $395

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Ralph Lauren Polo Cotton Quilted Vest, $198

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Best & Worst of the 2015 GOLDEN GLOBES

by Tracy James


If I had one word to sum up the red-carpet looks from the 2015 Golden Globes Awards, it would be "underwhelmed." No celeb wow'ed me nor was a clear front runner for Best Dressed. Not sure what is going on with the Hollywood stylists this year. For what it's worth, here is this Southern stylist's take on the best and worst of the night:

BEST DRESSED (in no particular order) 

1. Sienna Miller in a Miu Miu gown and Tiffany & Co. jewelry

This embroidered gown achieves the popular “cut down to there” plunging neckline while remaining sweet and ladylike. I give it props for its uniqueness among the others of the night.

This embroidered gown achieves the popular “cut down to there” plunging neckline while remaining sweet and ladylike. I give it props for its uniqueness among the others of the night.

2. Taylor Schilling in a Ralph Lauren gown with Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and clutch

Apparently red is actually the new black.

Apparently red is actually the new black.

3. Emma Stone in a Lanvin jumpsuit

Daring and playful with fitting hair and makeup complimenting the look.

Daring and playful with fitting hair and makeup complimenting the look.

4. Salma Hayek in Alexander McQueen

Many thought she over-accessorized or looked too bridal, but I liked the departure from her usual va-va-voom vibe, and thought she looked fresh and 10 years younger.

Many thought she over-accessorized or looked too bridal, but I liked the departure from her usual va-va-voom vibe, and thought she looked fresh and 10 years younger.

5. Kate Hudson in an Atelier Versace gown and Forevermark jewels

Trying too hard? Ok, maybe...but when your bod can look like this, who cares. That said, I would have much preferred a less severe hairstyle; a messy bun would have been a nice contrast.

Trying too hard? Ok, maybe...but when your bod can look like this, who cares. That said, I would have much preferred a less severe hairstyle; a messy bun would have been a nice contrast.

6. Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Narcisco Rodriguez

Talk about aging gracefully! Julia has never looked better. THIS is how you make white look flattering (finally, someone with the right undergarments!)

Talk about aging gracefully! Julia has never looked better. THIS is how you make white look flattering (finally, someone with the right undergarments!)

7. Eddie Redmayne in Gucci

Dashing and dapper, the actor’s perfectly fitting satin edged velvet jacket is a standout.

Dashing and dapper, the actor’s perfectly fitting satin edged velvet jacket is a standout.

8. Reese Witherspoon in a Calvin Klein gown and Tiffany & Co. jewels 

Safe, yes, but her classic look is well executed. (And includes $1.5 million in jewels!)

Safe, yes, but her classic look is well executed. (And includes $1.5 million in jewels!)

9. Kate Beckinsale in an Elie Saab gown with a Rauwolf clutch and Bulgari jewels 

Love this look - from the sparkly yet neutral gown to the smoky jewels and dark nails.

Love this look - from the sparkly yet neutral gown to the smoky jewels and dark nails.

10. Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad with Stuart Weitzman shoes

I hesitated putting JLo on the list because I’ve seen this over-the-top look from her before. However, this diva IS over-the-top, so the look is fitting and she does look amazing. Plus, she’s wearing one of my favorite red-carpet designers (see the runway version on right). So she made the cut. BUT...where was an on-set stylist when you needed one to fix the wardrobe malfunction going on around her cleavage? I’m glad she avoided a nip slip, but it looks like a painful poke.

I hesitated putting JLo on the list because I’ve seen this over-the-top look from her before. However, this diva IS over-the-top, so the look is fitting and she does look amazing. Plus, she’s wearing one of my favorite red-carpet designers (see the runway version on right). So she made the cut. BUT...where was an on-set stylist when you needed one to fix the wardrobe malfunction going on around her cleavage? I’m glad she avoided a nip slip, but it looks like a painful poke.

WORST DRESSED (in no particular order) 

1. Keira Knightley in Chanel 

I don’t care if she’s pregnant, there is no excuse for this god-awful frock. Leave the butterflies for the baby mobile.

I don’t care if she’s pregnant, there is no excuse for this god-awful frock. Leave the butterflies for the baby mobile.

2. Amanda Peet in J.Mendel

Blousy, frunpy, rumpled, BLAH. Why an attractive, fit woman would choose to put herself in this is beyond me.

Blousy, frunpy, rumpled, BLAH. Why an attractive, fit woman would choose to put herself in this is beyond me.

3. Lana delRay in Travilla

Priscilla Presley, meet The Little Mermaid.

Priscilla Presley, meet The Little Mermaid.

4. Ruth Wilson in Prada

I think I made that dress in Home Ec circa 1987.

I think I made that dress in Home Ec circa 1987.

5. Amal Clooney in a Dior gown and Harry Winston jewels

I am so happy that when ultimate bachelor Clooney finally chose a wife, he chose an intelligent, accomplished woman over mere arm candy. But I am not happy about this look. It's surprising that the woman who dresses so impeccably in her real life, would look like she's playing dress up on the red carpet. The bridesmaid-ish black gown seemed to overwhelm her slim frame, especially when combined with her hair loose and long (don't even get me started on the chunk of visible hair extensions from the rear view)...but the white gloves are what solidified her spot on this list for me. All of that said, I think Amal could've cared less about this party - with the intellectual and important work she does, it must've seemed downright silly.

I am so happy that when ultimate bachelor Clooney finally chose a wife, he chose an intelligent, accomplished woman over mere arm candy. But I am not happy about this look. It's surprising that the woman who dresses so impeccably in her real life, would look like she's playing dress up on the red carpet. The bridesmaid-ish black gown seemed to overwhelm her slim frame, especially when combined with her hair loose and long (don't even get me started on the chunk of visible hair extensions from the rear view)...but the white gloves are what solidified her spot on this list for me. All of that said, I think Amal could've cared less about this party - with the intellectual and important work she does, it must've seemed downright silly.

6) Kate Mara in Miu Miu

WTF is up with that belt?? Add to that the multiple stud earrings and cuffs in each ear, and she looks like she raided Forever 21.

WTF is up with that belt?? Add to that the multiple stud earrings and cuffs in each ear, and she looks like she raided Forever 21.

7. Jennifer Anniston in St. Laurent by Heidi Slimane and Neil Lane jewels 

OK, there were probably worse dresses, but Jen is on this list because she can and should do so much better. Here she looks like a soccer mom who picked up a Jessica McClintock at Macy's for her husband's office Christmas party.

OK, there were probably worse dresses, but Jen is on this list because she can and should do so much better. Here she looks like a soccer mom who picked up a Jessica McClintock at Macy's for her husband's office Christmas party.

8. Rosamund Pike in a Vera Wang gown and Fred Leighton jewelry

Who in the heck convinced her that this gown (with its bodice seemingly made of 2 surgical masks) fit properly?? This look is so bad, I honestly don't know what else to say.

Who in the heck convinced her that this gown (with its bodice seemingly made of 2 surgical masks) fit properly?? This look is so bad, I honestly don't know what else to say.

9. Lena Dunham in Zac Posen

Bad shoes, bad hair and an ill-fitting, oddly shaped dress. Ugh.

Bad shoes, bad hair and an ill-fitting, oddly shaped dress. Ugh.

10. Julianna Marguiles in Ulyana Sergenko dress and Bulgari jewels 

Love Julianna, LOVE The Good Wife. But I do not love this retro look with its tea length and dark shoes. If she borrowed Amal's white gloves, she could channel a 1950's cotillion.

Love Julianna, LOVE The Good Wife. But I do not love this retro look with its tea length and dark shoes. If she borrowed Amal's white gloves, she could channel a 1950's cotillion.

11. Robert Downey, Jr.

Johnny Depp didn't show up this year, so Downey clearly felt the need to fill his usual role of donning "quirky" menswear with disastrous results. Between the bell-bottom pants, overlong jacket cuffs, terrible accessories and grotesque beard...it’s all a big “don’t.” 

Johnny Depp didn't show up this year, so Downey clearly felt the need to fill his usual role of donning "quirky" menswear with disastrous results. Between the bell-bottom pants, overlong jacket cuffs, terrible accessories and grotesque beard...it’s all a big “don’t.” 

The "I COULDA BEEN A CONTENDER!" List

During the show, my girlfriends with whom I have watched the show for at least 10 years and I serve as the ultimate fashion critics, voicing our displeasures and disbeliefs aloud. Many times, I lament over looks that could have been worlds better had just a few changes been made. Here are 2 examples from this year's collection:                                                                                                                  

1. Claire Danes in a Valentino gown and Lorraine Schwartz jewels

I want to like this ornate gown that brings to mind Frida Kahlo. Lose the matchy-matchy earrings and ring, cut out that mesh to reveal a sexier plunging neckline, and tighten up the bodice and skirt....then we might've had something special.

I want to like this ornate gown that brings to mind Frida Kahlo. Lose the matchy-matchy earrings and ring, cut out that mesh to reveal a sexier plunging neckline, and tighten up the bodice and skirt....then we might've had something special.

2. Katie Holmes in Marchesa

What was the deal with women foregoing jewelry? For those who choose to wear absolutely none at all, I can't help but believe they are attempting to make some sort of statement. But in Katie's case, because she does have on 2 random bangles, it looks like she just forgot her earrings and/or necklace, either or both of which this look desperately needed! Add some jewels, chop off that horsetail of a hair extension, and put a little color on her cheeks, and this lovely dress could've shone. 

What was the deal with women foregoing jewelry? For those who choose to wear absolutely none at all, I can't help but believe they are attempting to make some sort of statement. But in Katie's case, because she does have on 2 random bangles, it looks like she just forgot her earrings and/or necklace, either or both of which this look desperately needed! Add some jewels, chop off that horsetail of a hair extension, and put a little color on her cheeks, and this lovely dress could've shone. 


Baubles & Pooches Event - My Top 10 Fave Accessories

by Tracy James


Last week I guest hosted a Stella & Dot event benefitting the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in memory of my beloved dog Rufus. After spending time styling clients in the jewelry, I was asked by several who could not attend to list my favorite pieces from the current collection. For for two more weeks you can shop the show online at http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816 and the profits will go to the GBHS.

Since a lot of you, like me, have attended or at least been invited to similar shows, I want to explain why this is different. As you can imagine, I have been approached by just about every social sales company to become a representative. Because I see it as a conflict of interest - wanting to remain neutral for my clients - I have always, and will continue to, say no.

Recently, upon a visit to Jerry La Suer's cool downtown loft (I was interviewing/shooting him as my September B-Metro Magazine Style Icon feature), I had the opportunity to peruse his display of Stella & Dot accessories (Jerry is a Senior Director and Founding Leader of the company). I've always liked Stella & Dot's pieces and been impressed with their trend representation and quality, but frankly, as I told Jerry, in the past I've found them to be priced higher than I want to spend for costume jewelry. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that Stella & Dot has significantly lowered their price point (but, important to note, not their quality)! 

Knowing I have clients whose wardrobes could use some of these pieces, I asked Jerry how I could arrange for my clients to see the collection. He suggested I host a trunk show, and I told him no, I didn't want to do anything like that. Then Jerry made me an offer I couldn't refuse: how about I bring clients by his place for a viewing and he would in turn donate all of the profits from the sale to the charity of my choice. DONE!  My obvious charity of choice is the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, for a variety of reasons, including the support they showed me after the tragic death of my beloved dog Rufus, and continue to show as the resulting criminal trial is pending.

I figured if Jerry was donating his profits, I should donate my time. What resulted was a highly successful event! Many clients who couldn't attend asked for purchase recommendations in order to purchase online. So I thought I'd share my Top 10 favorite/most recommended pieces - it was difficult to choose only 10! As I mentioned, for another two weeks, you can shop the show online: http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816 and profits will go toward the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.

1) Engravables

Jerry introduced me to these months ago when he presented me with a necklace that reads "#CHIC" that I wear almost everyday. I love layering it with some of my other delicate necklaces. I also love the look of multiple charms - whether an engraved piece, birthstone, symbol, etc - as one pendant. A favorite is the numbers, reminiscent of the old NYC Plaza hotel numbers that appeared on the necks of fashionistas who were able to snag one after the hotel was remodeled and the room numbers sold as jewelry.

2) Reverie Chandeliers

A fabulous gold chandelier earring is a must-have in my wardrobe. Beacuse Stella & Dot jewlery endures so well, I bought these to replace all of the other versions I've bought that have turned or tarnished too quickly. I love the antique gold color and ethnic inspiration of this design.

3) Christna Link Bracelet 

One reason I love this bracelet in gold or silver is that, with it's detailing like hammered links, it could easily pass for fine jewelry. It looks great paired with a gold or silver or two-tone watch.

4) Rebel Pendant

OK, so everyone has this necklace...and by "everyone," I mean lots of celebrities. But that's because it's cool and oh-so easy to wear.The pendant is just the right length and weight to hold its own when worn alone.

5) Double Clutch

For my younger or trendy clients - in citrine perforated saffiano (see previous post) leather, this clutch offers a pop of color to any outfit. I've been obsessed with perforation lately - I love its modern vibe and textural interest.

6) Tansy Fringe Collar

Dramatic and intriguing, this bold statement necklace in lovely antique gold is a true conversation piece...one that can define an outfit, whether it be a cocktail dress or white t-shirt and jeans.

7) Strength & Inspire Bracelets

Clearly I'm a fan of purchases that benefit a good cause, and through October 100% of net proceeds of these bracelets benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research and creating awareness of the importance of early detection. I also love jewlery that has personal meaning. On a much lighter note, Bama fans will love the elephant design!

8) Gitane Tassel Necklace 

Faceted metallic glass beads add sparkle to this rosary-style silver plated brass necklace. Removable tassel features two smoky quartz accent stones. S-hook closure allows for versatility in styling. Wear it doubled with S-hook with or without tassel, or wear it long or tripled without the S-hook.

9) The Kimberly Necklace 
There's something to be said about a piece of jewelry versatile enough to add an ethic chicness to a t-shirt and jeans as well as a unique elegance to a streamlined dress.

10) Petra Braided Bracelet

If you haven't figured it out already, I like versatility, especially when it comes to the ability to dress up or dress down a piece of jewelry. Wear this statement piece with boyfriend jeans and jacket with rolled up sleeves or with a sassy cocktail dress. A pair of diamond studs is all you need to complete either look.

Further investigate in detail or order any of these pieces at http://www.stelladot.com/ts/wa816.


Fall Happenings

by Tracy James


Despite the fact that the weather has yet to "snap," Labor Day has passed, which in the South means Fall has arrived, bringing with it school days, football and fashion. As the leaves change, we start thinking about switching out our closet for the season...and so begins my busiest season as a wardrobe stylist. Here's a bit about what I'm up to during these Fall months: 

Transitional Wardrobing

"Can I wear white jeans after Labor Day, and if so, how?"

"It's mid September but 90 degrees outside, what the heck do I wear?"

These are questions I receive on almost a daily basis early in the season. Popular services include shopping end-of-season sales to snag deals on a few transitional items or particularly fab Spring/Summer items that are such great finds they are worth buying now for next year. Many clients also like to "shop their own closet" for transitional outfits - I will put together combinations that are still temperature appropriate but depart from colors and ensembles that scream summer.

Closet Revamp

As cliche as it is, the analogy is true: a closet is like a garden, in need of constant pruning lest it become choked with weeds. The result is not being able to see the forest for the trees, so to speak - becoming so overwhelmed with the quantity of items in your closet that you not only lose track of what is even in there, but instead of taking the time to mix and match, you wear the same 4-5 "safe" outfits over and over again. The end of each season/beginning of the next is a great time for a Closet Revamp: we will inventory what you have in your closet and evaluate its contents, including your purchases over the past year. This will make it easier to create a "List of Needs" for the coming season, factoring in any missing wardrobe staples and taking current trends into consideration. These are items I can find for you on a shopping trip together, or for you to go it alone (often after a Revamp, these lists are shorter than one expected).

Fall Shopping 

Need a refresh? Want to add in current trends but are unsure which to chose or how to execute in a way that is age and lifestyle appropriate? Now that Fall styles are finally in stores (they arrive later in the South), I have been spending a lot of time shopping for clients. Over the years, I've found that the best way for my clients to get the most "bang for their buck" is to pre-pull - allowing me to edit selections, taking into consideration what he or she already has in her closet. It also permits me to introduce a few items to push clients out of their comfort zones. My favorite comment to hear is, "I would've never even pulled this off the rack but I love it!" Investing in the services of a professional to help you make the right style choices saves money in the long run, as you not only will end up with items that will mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe and endure through the seasons, but also you won't end up with items with tags still on them when Fall is over!

Wardrobing Sessions/Lookbooks

Once you have the right items in your closet, you owe it to yourself (and your wallet) to make the most out of these items. Some of my clients have no problem shopping for themselves, but limit their vision to only putting together pieces that were bought together. "Mannequin dressing," if you will. In order to have a closet that is focused on quality and not quantity, the ability to mix and match is imperative. During wardrobing sessions I will put together new combinations, complete with accessories and shoes. We can either take pictures for a printed out Lookbook, or, in this digital age, many have enjoyed an iPad album, with folders for different outfit occasions - for example: Work, Weekend, Date Night, etc. You'll feel like you have new clothes without even leaving your house! 

Tween & Teen Consulting

Whether we like it or not, we live in a first impression society, thus the clothes we chose to wear and the condition in which we keep our garments and ourselves send a message to the world. More than just style, but also modesty and grooming come into play, and this is a lesson better learned sooner than later. My 7 years of founding and teaching a Fashion Camp for girls aged 5-15 has given me a unique insight into the minds of these young ladies and the pressures - both peer and societal - that they face. Thanks to that experience combined with my passion for bolstering self esteem and confidence in girls starting at an early age, I have developed a niche  - and knack for, if I do say so myself - when it comes to relating to these girls and earning their trust. From helping girls make the best choices for their shape (which may be different from that of their friends), to mediating mom and daughter who can't seem to see eye to eye when shopping, to steering the new kid in school away from the goth look, to conducting a makeup and skincare lesson for rising 7th graders, to helping girls entering college prepare for sorority recruitment...the circumstances with which I've dealt run the gamut, and I find each so rewarding. I love helping girls embrace their own individuality and realize that style does not come at any particular price point, from a certain store, or in a specific size. Confidence is stylish at every age. 

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Saffiano Who?

by Tracy James


I recently posted an Instagram of a Saffiano leather weekender bag by hook + ALBERT, which begged the question for many, what exactly IS Saffiano leather?

Saffiano leather was first made in one of Italy’s most famous tanneries and was a signature and patent of Prada. Originally made from the highest quality calf leather, the name "Saffiano" comes from the cross-hatch print (a series of diagonal lines) pressed or stamped into wax that coats the leather. This treatment and distinctive markings render the leather resistant to stains and scratches, making it water repellent and easy to clean. Many high-end fashion houses use Saffiano leather for its many positive attributes.

Today the print is used on a wide range of leathers and PU coated splits. PU leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the rawhide has been separated from the hide. An artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain. So although what we see is the same Saffiano print across all the current designer brands, what is actually underneath the surface could be no better than your cheap split leather with a surface coating simply printed with the cross hatch design “Saffiano Leather.” Therefore, make sure you know what you're paying for!


The Eyes Have It

by Tracy James


Last week I helped a client select eyeglasses and RX sunglasses (from the more than 3300 Schaeffer EyeWorks has available!) To some, frames this may seem like just another accessory, but keep in mind that this "accessory" is worn directly on your face and helps create the image that is the first impression you give someone, especially if they make eye contact upon meeting, as they should. (See the pop-culture inspired sunglasses chart at the end of this post as evidence of just how important what shades one chooses can be.)

As far as which frame for particular face shapes, all you really need to remember is "opposites attract." In other words, if you have a round face, avoid round frames and try square instead. If you have a square face, try oval frames. Hair and skin color also comes into play. You want to coordinate, accentuating undertones or highlights, but be careful not to match, which can wash you out.

Frames by SALT Optics

Frames by SALT Optics

When it comes to sunglasses, you can allow your aesthetic preferences dictate a bit more. My client, like me, likes a dark lens with a lot of surface area (covering above and below the eye, offering the added benefit of wrinkle prevention) and some peripheral coverage. So a Jackie O style frame with ever-so-slight wraparound fits this bill. 

Sunglasses by Robert Marc

Sunglasses by Robert Marc

If you have a classic style, consider wayfarers, which are versatile in that they can be dressed up or dressed down. On that note...guys, sporty frames like Revos or Maui Jims - especially with with cables attached - is not appropriate for suited or dressy casual looks. 

No matter what you choose, protect your peepers! They're the only ones you'll ever have!

fashion coach