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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Christian Louboutin Celebrates His 20th Anniversary

For two decades, Parisian designer Christian Louboutin has been designing his highly creative footwear for women. Many devoted wearers know his signature shoes by the red soles. Few realize the red soles were actually a happy accident in shoe creation. Christian was in his studio looking at a prototype and realized the shoe didn't look right. He thought that the sole was a distracting black mass, so he grabbed his assistant’s bottle of red nail polish and covered it. What a great story, do you think he could have ever imagined the impact it has made years later? Few designers have been able to capture the same feel of seduction as the infamous red sole.

Christian says that his shoe designs have evolved through the heights of the heels. Today’s spiky stiletto heel is in great contrast to the medium heels he designed twenty years ago. He credits his stem-like stilettos to earlier in his career as a garden designer. Christian believes that women are wearing higher heels today and know that his designs are for pleasure and not practicality. Ya think?

Christian’s goal is to create shoes that add music and movement to the way a woman walks. I believe most all of that to be true, but for the average woman we have another thought. The shoes are inspiring, but who is going to be there to massage my feet after just a few short hours? Can I justify the cost per wear? Do I invest in a pair and then create an outfit around it, or vice versa? They are really not just shoes, but they are a work of ART!

In late October of this past year, Christian launched a beautifully photographed book of his exquisite designs as part of his 20th anniversary celebration. For those looking for a creative gift for any shoeholic for Valentine’s Day, this would be the gift. As a side note, can someone send this blog to my husband? Hint, hint. The book would make an ideal coffee table accessory or in the guest bedroom on the dresser. I have finally finished my book on lifestyle dressing and it should be on its’ way to the publisher. I am hoping that my book will also have that same look of beauty and sophistication that will make shoppers want to leave it on their coffee tables, as well.

As for Christian, I wish him twenty more years of creative mastery!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I am not a shoe snob, but I'm just saying.....

I recently was in San Juan with my family. I think I have mentioned that my somewhat adult children know Mom is gonna go searching for that hole-in-the-wall store that has something fabulous to draw me in. As you by now know, it sadly doesn't take much.

It could be a store with blender and clock, and if the window is appealing, I'ma entering.

Case and point, as my son would say. The store window on one of the main streets across from the Marriott Hotel was an easy sell for me. Best of all, my daughter was intrigued as well. The window read Paola Cavalli, and the shoes were as bright and textured as a Lego store in the mall.

My heart began to race as we entered and were greeted by the two managing partners who show Paola's designs in the only U.S. store.

Good thing I was full from dinner, because somehow it distracted me from spending my life savings. I can't explain the correlation between a full belly and my feet, but somehow when my belly is extended, my feet are, too.

Back to Paola Cavalli. I know you are thinking she is related to the Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, but she is not. She is from Columbia, like the ever-so-beautiful Sofia Vergara from "Modern Family". Let me digress for one second. Is Sofia just not stunning and have you noticed her Cover Girl campaign? I am officially jealous without being jealous. She is so pretty to look at, I swoon. Hmm, should an adult, happily married woman swoon?

Again, back to Paola and her bright designs, reminiscent of Carmen Miranda, the actress who wore fruit on her head. Hard to forget that, quite frankly. Paola started her business in 2003 and sold her designs to women she met on walks with her toddler son. Soon after, the Spanish designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada came to town, and Paola presented Agatha with a pair of shoes.

The rest is history, as they say in the business.

Paola hopes that her work is more accessible than most designers, and priced so people can afford several pairs. I have to admit I was quite stunned at the price tag between $85-150. Paola also designs for little girls and those shoes are also carried at the San Juan store. Boy, I hope she has a little girl one day....

Paola does special orders for women who prefer a shoe in a different color. That is a wonderful offering to entice customers! People love knowing that they are getting a one of a kind item. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to stumble upon a cool store and anything different than what the mainstream offers. Check out the vibrant colors and let me know what you think.

Do you think her goods would sell best in Miami or what?

From my shoe closet to yours-


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jason Wu for Target

Remember how stunning Michelle Obama looked at the inaugural ball in her one shoulder floor length gown? Two years ago, Mrs. Obama took a chance on an up and coming designer, and now 26 year old Jason Wu is about to launch his 43 piece line for Target. Availability begins February 5th and runs through March 6. Get your fingers on your laptop and be ready to pounce!

I expect Jason's fashions will be similar in popularity to Missoni’s line last fall. Like Missoni, Jason's goal was to make it different than his regular couture line, with new clothing and accessory designs. The clothes will offer a look of playfulness that the average woman could wear for work, brunch, or a cocktail party. Now that is what I call lifestyle dressing. A change of shoe and off we go!

The color palette theme begins with nautical colors of navy and red, a touch of mustard, a few items in blush, and a chunk of black pieces strewn in. Check out the Peter Pan collared dresses, striped black and white scoop neck sweater, and the little black dress with the nude colored belt and lace underlay. Jason also has incorporated a few bags, including a fabulous lady-like boxy shaped clutch. If the designs themselves aren't enough to make you buy, then the price tag of $20-60 for the clothes and $20-50 for accessories will do the trick. Check out this recent clip from NBC’s interview of Jason as he shows some of his 60's inspired designs:


I do want to say, if you’re interested in buying the line, I wouldn't wait until the 6th to get serious about purchasing. I have a feeling it will all go fast and furious, including the black and red kitten scarf.

On another note, Target unveiled on January 12th an entirely new design platform being offered to shoppers. It’s called The Shops at Target. This ongoing program will bring upscale specialty stores like Polka Dog Bakery from Boston, Cos Bar beauty shop from Aspen, and The Candy Store from San Francisco to Target. Each specialty store will offer a six week run from their various product lines to be highlighted within local Target stores. How much better does it get than that? Do I actually need another excuse to shop at Target? Bless my credit card. Prices in The Shops at Target will range from $1-$160 with each shop designer contributing their design aesthetics to the product selection, packaging, and in-store shop displays. Target is surely thrilled to be able to offer shoppers the experience of shopping at these one of a kind specialty and boutique collections. Target is certainly ramping things up.

Remember to Wu on February 5!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Building That Designer Style House at Target

Go Target, go Target, go Target! Do you see me dancing and pumping my arms in excitement? What I would give as a stylist to be in the room of the marketing and strategic planning group for Target. I’d like to thank whoever is making the decisions to bring on these designers at Target and introduce them to the rest of the world - they’re doing a great job.

Target seems to do this best with its’ collaborations, so much so that other big box retailers like Kohl's and JC Penney have followed a similar path. But remember last year’s nightmare with Italian fashion house Missoni? The Target website crashed just after a few hours due to unexpected demand. Online orders were delayed and some cancelled, leaving shoppers frustrated. Although I have to say, I have a girlfriend that just received a garment she ordered with her initial order. Now that was a good surprise!

Stacia Anderson, Target's senior vice president, is working with the team to ensure delivery issues never happen again on such a grand scale. Going forward, the company will pursue more collaborations and limited editions to help bring in more of their core customers (women), and bring them in to Target in a way that the delivery schedule runs smoothly.

Hmmm, is it a good move to focus on women mainly? You betcha! Retail analysts disagree and feel as though sooner or later the tactic of focusing on the woman shopper will become an unsustainable business model. Target’s position is surely that keeping up with new strategies, new fashions and new designers keep up the level of excitement for their shoppers. I agree with both opinions, and women are the ones looking for fresh fashions routinely.

Let me just say, I am pretty excited about what Target is doing. Let’s first reminisce about the list of designers that Target has collaborated with over the years:

1999-today - Michael Graves, the world renowned architect has been designing kitchen gadgets and small appliances by using form and function.

2003-2007 - Isaac Mizrahi, he helped put Target on the map as the go-to style destination. He has collaborated on bedding, apparel and accessories. I'd love to see him show a presence again!

2005-today - Thomas O'Brien, NY based interior designer, has been a Target staple with his affordable VintageModern look for bedding, home textiles and house wares. He design brings old and new together. Love that look myself!

2008 - Anya Hindmarch has offered her famed designer handbag designer during the peak of our recession, pricing her line between $20-50. Fans jumped at the opportunity to purchase her signature styles of satchels, shoulder bags and clutches.

2008-2009 - Thakoon Panichgul offered his take on contemporary, for the women's classic resort wear. He offered tunics, tees, tanks, coats and dresses in bright colors and prints. His collection was his take on his Eastern heritage as it was already an established hit with his celebrity clientele. I must have missed this one, as I expect it was wonderful. Gotta love a bright frock!

2008-2010 - John Derian, a 1989 artist who pioneered the trend of decoupage. He incorporated this whimsical signature style into three decor collections for Target. Very funky with a twist!

2010 - Mulberry is an English luxury label designer handbag line. Target and Mulberry priced it to sell at around $50, without losing the exquisite craftsmanship and detail. I remember seeing them in the store, thinking it would be nice to be able to afford the real McCoy. Kinda like buying a knock off Louis Vuitton.

2010 - Zac Posen, with his trendy flair, was able to take many of his creative ideas about making dresses that converted style with the easy removal of a strap or hemline. The biggest hit in the collection was a black tuxedo style jacket and wide leg pant. Much of his line reminds me of an upscale H&M.

2010 - Temple St. Claire is a 14k gold plated jewelry line of necklaces, cuffs and charms. This inspired look by the Renaissance of Italy was so popular that Lucky Magazine even pictured it.

2011 - Calypso St. Barth is a house wares line, designed to highlight Moroccan artistry. The elephant ceramic tea pot and metallic poufs were the biggest hit of the line. I wonder if a pouf is in the same category as a gotta have it black blazer in your wardrobe. I can imagine putting my feet up and using the pouf. I read that someone used it to hold recycled bags. Really?

2011 - Missoni was the largest collection from a designer ever sold at Target, with 400 available items. Need I say more?

2012 - Jason Wu is one of the hottest new young designers around. Thanks to Michelle Obama, who wore a silk one shoulder dress designed especially for her for the inauguration ball, he is now highly sought after. His line is available online and in several larger Target stores starting February 5th-March 6. I am expecting this line to make a huge showing in the stores.

Look for my next blog to talk about the hot designer Jason Wu and the line he is rolling out in just a few short weeks. I look forward to sharing his looks with you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shopping for Budget Busters

Shopping for those items on your wish list that ordinarily bust the bank - how many times do you see an item in the store that you love and then check the price tag and say no way, can't swing that! This is the perfect time to go back to that item and see what the price tag now reads. I expect it will be at least at 50% off and can even be found with additional savings on weekends. This is the time to buy what you wanted earlier in the season but also focus on items that need replacing but you didn't have the budget for previously.

The best examples of higher ticket items worth checking out:

  • Leather anything: shoes, belts, handbags, jackets, skirts and gloves
  • Wool or cashmere coats, sweater or blazers
  • Trench or down jackets
  • Accessories like trendy jewelry, embellished belts, wraps, pashmina scarves, hats or beautiful umbrellas
  • Cocktail wear
  • If you like fur or even the look of fur, check out jackets, vests and yes- shoes (Jeannie, are you cringing?)
  • Items that will transition into spring

We have had the oddest winter here in NC. Here it is mid January and just recently I have been pulling out my winter coats. Because it hasn't been exceptionally cold, it's been a wonderful opportunity to continue to layer with sweaters and vests. This is a great time to think about buying items that are worn layered now and alone when it warms up.

The best example I found was during a recent trip to JMcLaughlin at North Hills Shopping Center. Erin and Molly are probably some of the nicest people in retail I have come across in a long time. This store really leans towards classic dressing with well-made garments. More she-

she than Talbots. I was told through the grape vine many years ago that this company has fabulous sales. I believe they opened in early spring of 2011, so I figured one way or another I would eventually wander in for a sale. I did that just last week.

Most everything is 60% off and the store is ripe for the picking. Molly has beautiful long legs so who better than her to model for me and try on a dress that is easily layered with tights or leggings for winter and a simple flat or boot. Molly could transition this in the spring with a bare leg and a casual sandal. Either way, I love a good leather tote and the easy jean jacket that she had thrown over her shoulder.

Endless possibilities exist with this striped boat neck dress that would pack and travel beautifully.

Lastly, I would be remiss in my job as a stylist if I didn't remind everyone that this is the time to buy any fine silk or sequined items that you wanted to build into your wardrobe. Since we can all agree that sequin's aren't going anywhere and is now considered more of a staple for holiday dressing or a night out, buying the best quality sale garment is the true trick and treasure all in one. Personally, I prefer my embellishments not to fall from the fabric as I move and shake, and I have been known to move and shake!

This little black number is more than half price and looks great with a dark wash jean and heels or a classic satin pant or skirt. Can you tell I am salivating?

So take one last peek in your closet, pull together your wish list and a credit card, and check out what half price or even better values are out there.

From my closet to yours -


Thursday, January 12, 2012

My own twist to a New Year, New You

I have given this a lot of thought since actually Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for so many things that I have in my life. My family, my health and the freedom and ability to do what I love (fashion). Instead of making unrealistic goals for the New Year, I decided to put a twist to it and make it be all about fashion, my wardrobe and my family, as well. Since we are empty nesters, I can only do a few things at a time that will actually make a difference one way or another. View my family checklist and the before and after issues and compromises.

1. My daughter’s closet and drawers were bursting with items, from as far back as maybe junior high, that she hadn't worn for years. The plan at Thanksgiving was to convince her to clean everything out, consign the clothing, make a little money on the clothing, and take back to school what warm weather clothing was needed after Christmas break.


The idea came with some opposition, but agreement that it needed to be done. The compromise was that it would be done after our family vacation at Christmas. Did I mention this was one closet consult I would not be doing? About eight hours later and with six bags of clothing, my daughter completed her task and was off to Plato's Closet to consign her clothes. I expected she would get $50 for what she was offering to the store and by golly the payoff came in at $53-BAM! The rest was donated to charity.

2. I can't actually say I haven't been in my son’s closet in over two years. The last time I visited his closet was to evaluate what suits he had, as we were on our way to purchase a new suit for future interviews. I do recall pitching quite a few items that he brought to college some six years before. A little scary I may add. Bless his future girlfriend that may end up tackling the job of sorting it out.

What I did quickly notice when we were away together over the holidays was his underwear that had long seen their day (only because I did most of the laundry), and a few t-shirts and undershirts that definitely needed to be retired. How is it that a treasured fraternity t-shirt with holes still belongs anywhere besides at the bottom of a drawer? Certainly not on a family vacation!


While on vacation I always mention to my family that I need to briefly check out the local mall or street store boutique. I like to see how fashion and styles differ, as well check out what people are wearing. My family knows this is not an unusual request, although they also know it will be a relatively quick trip into the store, and that I personally am looking for a fashion souvenir. My son and I whizzed through Macy's and we revamped his underwear and undershirt collection in a matter of a half an hour. That even included time spent evaluating brands and fit. I miss those days of shopping with my son, so although brief, it was quite productive. The bigger question is has he now pitched his older ones from his drawer to make room to the new ones, or just stacked them on top of one another. I can't go there!

3. My husband’s pants. Let's just again mention the article that came out in GQ several months back speaking about Raleigh being the one of the 35 worst dressed cities. It was somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas when I decided my spouse was not going to be on any list or lumped into a category that was negative when it came to dressing. That would almost be sacrilegious! My husband has fortunately not acquired a large middle age bulge around the middle, so he looks great in flat front pants.


I have pulled 100% of his triple pleated pants and have only kept a few of his double pleated pants. He has moved into 2012 with pants that are flat in the front and on trend with today’s men’s fashion. Can you imagine having a wife that is a stylist and having to keep up with her fashion do's and don'ts? I actually am proud of him, he does quite well on his own. He has no problem bargain hunting at Nordstrom Rack to find his own great value piece to add to his wardrobe.

4. Lastly, I must talk about my personal twist for the New Year. I needed to go through my brooches, sliders and earrings and get them organized. I have them in three different holders. My necklaces are neatly hung on a slat wall but my earrings have no organization to them. The other issue is my tights drawer. I love tights and wear them constantly in the fall and winter.


Well, has it worked for me? Partially. I have colored out my jewelry to the small lucite drawers and organized by gold and silver. I have lumped together my sliders for my Omega chain. I also found some earrings that I was missing for several weeks and had actually turned the area upside down looking for them. SO…that is a major plus because they were a pair that my husband gave me. As for my tights, I haven't tackled that yet, but I feel like I have through the end of the month.

By the end of the month I will have completed two goals I have long since set for myself:

1. The tights drawer will be completely organized and colored out as well.

2. My book on "Lifestyle Dressing" will be completed and in my marketing person’s hands for her to use her handy dandy red marker on to slash with edits.

Be sure to check back with me February 1, because I promise proof of these last two New Year goals!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Charm Bracelets, the Latest Fashion Trend!

Oh, the sweet memories of my mother’s clinking charms on her bracelet. My mother purchased a gold bracelet when she was first married. She had a charm for each of her daughter’s births, her wedding anniversary, travels, favorite sports, and others that we gave her. I used to love to put it on and look at the charms and ask my mother about each one. Somehow, her explanations never got old. Charm bracelets of old are equivalent to today’s over-bought Pandora.

Pandora offers beads and charms in every color, sport and life theme possible. Personally, I like a traditional one-time charm bracelet that speaks to the person wearing it. So much of one’s personality can come to light when wearing a bracelet that shares the life you have led.

This past season, I worked with a client who had a charm bracelet that was purchased for her about ten years ago. She had not added to it since before the birth of her last child three years ago. We purchased a charm similar to the other children's and she was amazed at how the price of gold had increased. I encouraged her to bite the bullet and consider it an heirloom piece of jewelry to incorporate into her wardrobe. I expected it would be something she would wear to church. I couldn't help but think of my mom and how much she has enjoyed her charm bracelet over the years. The trick in wearing a traditional charm bracelet is to feel as though it is not for dress only, but great with a pair of jeans, white blouse, black blazer and some heels. Think of it as an extension of a LBD uniform!

As the fashion trend of charm bracelets increases the popularity of charms, there is now a wide variety to choose from. Gold or silver, charms offering lifestyle glimpses: family, fashion (a shoe), art, medieval times or even just colors. How to choose? Keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Is this going to be a fashion item or an item to pass down to the family?
  • Do you prefer gold or silver?
  • What kind of financial investment are you willing to make?
  • How do you envision wearing this? Casual, dressy, or both?
  • Can you make the commitment to add to it if you decide to make it a family heirloom?
  • Gauge the amount of pleasure it will give you and decide if it is worth it in the long run
  • If you decide to make it a fashion piece, what do you want it to say? Big and bold or soft and feminine?

Lastly, if you are looking for a hobby, maybe this is something you want to consider. Shopping for antique charms can be great fun, and I expect will offer a great deal of satisfaction when you find a great treasured charm. If you decide to go the Pandora route, then I would opt for going online to find retired charms and even availability on eBay. Regardless, have fun and remember that fashion always comes full circle. Just like my client and my mother, it is something wonderful to pass along to the family. Hmmm? I wonder if this is a good time for me to let my mother know I want her to put my name on it in years to come. Now I'm thinking.....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

You go, Tim Gunn!

I recently read the wonderfully warm mentor, Tim Gunn from Project Runway, is expanding his television visibility this year. He is co-hosting a new daytime talk show, The Revolution, which airs January 16th at 2pm on ABC. Each week the health and lifestyle show will highlight one woman's five-month-long weight loss experience. Friday is the big reveal. How is this program not a winner! Everyone loves to watch transformations. I live for that same exciting moment when my own clients have a similar positive life changing experience. Usually that special moment comes in front of a mirror and my grin is as big as my clients. It is the realization that positive change, big or small, is remembered and felt for a long time.

Tim's role on the show is to supply the fashion and styling advice to these women whose bodies are undergoing weight loss related changes. He is co-hosting with Ty Pennington, nutritionist Harley Pasternak, women's health expert Dr. Jennifer Ashton, and Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, relationship expert. This show hits what I talk about regularly: dressing for your lifestyle. The Revolution will take everyday people and their lives, and offer advice and support for various issues so they can succeed! It is truly a feel good show.

As Tim continues to highlight his expertise, he will also put his stamp on being the official "style consultant" with Weight Watchers. He will consult on the mega successful Jennifer Hudson ads and offer tips on how to dress during the stages of weight loss. He is rebranding himself towards becoming a plus-size advocate. As our population continues to grow in body size, the positive mentoring of Tim Gunn will be a much needed gift. Acceptance and tolerance, while teaching about plus size style and fashion, is the mantra for his new endeavors. Personally, I am thrilled that "What Not To Wear" will have another show that supports fashion for all body types, but more importantly plus size women will have a voice.

As for plus size lines like the new Eloquii line from The Limited, these shows now offer new opportunities to highlight their fabulous plus size fashions. If it was up to me, and you know it isn't, I'd ring up Tim and get him to bring on Eloquii as the official clothing line for the new show. I am digging the looks! Like I said at the beginning, you go, Tim Gunn!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An Interview with Christine Jones Jewelry

The start of the interview with Chris Jones of Christine Jones Jewelry is in our newsletter. If you don’t get the newsletter, be sure to sign up for it! If you’d like the January newsletter, please send an email to suzanne@wardrobeconsulting.biz. Hint: Contest details are in the newsletter (and on FaceBook).

Where do you get the inspiration for your design?

I often hold a specific woman or event (sometimes real, sometimes not) in my mind when I am designing. An example of this was when you asked me to design a pair of earrings for your client, Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, so she could wear them at the Grammies. The opportunity to match my aesthetic to a recording artist, her dress and that big event was thrilling. The design I developed (and that she wore on her Grammy winning night!) informed many other pieces I offered throughout the year. What makes my work cohesive is my artistic aesthetic around color, scale, and texture. I love to play with these artistic elements using gemstone beads, metals and chain. I like to think my work is easy to wear and enhances the woman. I want my customer to wear my jewelry, and not have my jewelry wear her.

We often collaborate on jewelry designs for clients. As you know, I love to look at your materials and hand select stones. Where do you find your materials? Do you shop seasonally, or do you just find things you like?

My works have continued to evolve. One major addition in December was sterling cuff bracelets. What makes them special is that each one is truly unique. They are all hand scribed, etched and forged. I have some 'stock' designs, as well as more personalized custom bracelets. There is a picture of a personalized bracelet on my website. I think I will always work with gemstones because I love the color they provide, but metal holds such a fascination for me that rings, cuffs and pendants are the next obvious steps. There is so much for me explore with metal and color!
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