Outfit Ideas: Meet the Heat

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Photo courtesy of blog.denimtherapy.com

It is scorching in Texas! We’ve been in the high 90’s all week. And while this Long Island-born tanorexic has never shied away from warm weather, there’s a major difference between hanging poolside in a minimal amount of fabric and having to put on an actual outfit, go to an office, and be a professional person. Eek!

Breezy summer dresses are fun but we need to make sure our hemlines aren’t too short. I’ve seen some pretty interesting looks going on lately in the corporate cafeteria. If you’ve got the legs and the confidence and want to rock a micro-mini skirt to work, girl, go for it. But I am just a tad too buttoned-up in the personality department to wear the same thing to the office that I would at a barbecue. Call me provincial if you must.

How to survive the summer heat and still look stylish? I’m learning by experience and am certainly no expert yet. While those New York summers blazed, and the subway was truly unbearable, I’ve never lived in a place that reaches 110 with any frequency. Here’s what I’ve picked up from the chic locals:

1. Open-toed shoes are a must, but keep them classy. Flip flops have no place in your office, so leave them at the door. But sleek sandals with plenty of room to breathe will keep your look professional and comfortable at once. I recently nabbed these BCBG numbers at the Bloomie’s outlet and I’m obsessed:

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Harry never misses an opportunity to jump into the photo…

2. Cotton. Cotton. Cotton is your very best friend. It breathes, it forgives you if you sweat, and it cleans easily in the washing machine for frequent wear. One of my current go-to’s is a Joe Fresh trapeze dress from JCPenney that’s white with navy stripes and does not hug the body at all. Perfect for the scorching temps and totally cute with a low pump and red lipstick. I also like to dress it up with a punchy pair of platforms.

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Now on clearance for only $13.99, jcpenney.com.

3. We’ve spoken about maxis and the fact that I don’t like them. Well, if politicians can change their stances seasonally, I see no reason why this fashion blogger can’t. And so I will now reveal that I am developing a rather massive crush on the maxi. I still believe that one must always turn around and check out her toosh in the mirror before leaving the house in her maxi–many of them are made of such clingy fabric, you can see everything on the rear-end. Yikes. But a nice sturdy material and great fit? Perfect for summer heat at the office and can be professionalized instantly with the right accessories.

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This is a great fit in a maxi for a more casual work environment. If your dress code is stiffer, pair with a black cardi or cropped blazer and heels. Still more comfortable than sweating in a poly blend fitted number! Aqua, $88, bloomingdales.com

Here are some more inspirational photos of summer looks that work at the office. Share yours with me, too!

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Try Something New: Knuckle Rings

Jewelry has taken so many exciting turns down the catwalk in recent seasons, from earrings that are more like ear-cuffs to glorious metal mixing, pearl-encrusted hair ornaments (consider that jewelry for your tresses!) and beyond. This morning, in the 90-degree heat, my poor fingers were a little swollen, but I had a strong desire to wear one of my grandmother’s gold rings. This chunky masterpiece was scooped up on one of the last trips she ever took with my grandfather to Italy, and its sentimental value is even greater than its monetary one.

ringSolution? I wore the ring higher up, right below my knuckle. When the finger is straight, the knuckle is totally covered. Kind of a cool look! There was no puffing or strain, and it was easy to spend all day typing (hey, that’s what we writers do!) without a second thought. I received a ton of compliments, too. Any tricks you love for reinventing your fave jewelry items? I want to hear!

Mastering the Art of Casual Chic

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i’d hire these floral beauties. would you?

An article in this month’s fabulous Marie Claire @ Work (their glam new professionista insert which is a welcome freebie to this recently transplanted, former work-from-homer with a new corporate job) struck my fancy. The Problem with Casual Fridays carefully unfolds the pro’s and con’s of the concept, something that is rampant in offices from coast to coast, whether officially or by chance.

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if you have glasses, WEAR them at work. it can’t hurt!

It seems we spend much of the day on Friday day dreaming about tonight’s margaritas and tomorrow’s mimosas, longing to feel the sunshine that’s just beyond our grasp, outside the professional grade window. Along with a chill internal vibe, many of us lean toward more relaxed outfit planning for Fridays. And while this can go very well (dark denim, trend-right top, comfortable wedges), it can also go very poorly (ripped jeans, revealing top, scary flats).

The article asserts that while “casual” dressing may be encouraged on some (or in my case, all) days, there is a line and it’s important not to cross it. Also, dressing in a sharp manner at all times will still make you likelier to get that big promotion, or at least prove to your boss and the higher-ups within your company that you mean business. This is not to say you can’t have fun with fashion. But it’s all about balance.

So, how do we toe the line? And, um, what happens if you, like your friend here, work in an office that has a casual dress code all of the time? Gone are the days where my aching feet wept silent tears as I forced them into three-inch, pointed toe stilettos and began my trek by foot and subway from 103rd street to the Lower East Side. And here to stay are the days when I look in the mirror, knowing my proposed outfit of stirrup leggings, embroidered tunic and Ferragamo flats would be perfectly acceptable… but I just can’t wear it. I just can’t. Be. Sloppy. At. Work.

Thank you, Marie Claire @ Work for giving us some rules– flats are mostly not okay, but instead consider a kitten heel. Jeans can be done in dark, fitted *but not tight* varieties, but heels are really a must then. Bold colors are best on Fridays. Ditto whacky patterns. And spaghetti straps? No. Just, no.

I would hereby like to lengthen the list for those of us who work in perpetually casual environments. You can be comfortable, trendy and cute all at once. And the bottom line? When in doubt, wear a dress.

A maxi and a cardi
This combination will have you feeling pajama-comfy but will allow you to walk into any meeting feeling confident. If you’re going for a jersey knit, keep the pattern simple and chic. I really like silkier fabrics in a maxi, as they dress it up a little while keeping that same comfortable factor. Pair with a fitted cardigan or cropped blazer and work-appropriate slip-ons. A statement necklace or armful of gold bangles won’t hurt here.

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this maxi remains polished despite its sweeping length. a white cardigan and these exact shoes make it office-perfect. Cynthia Steffe, bloomingdales.com, $278

A color-blocked Oxford shirt and happy jeans
For the truly casual office, you can have a ton of fun with color while sticking to traditional cuts and styles. A two-tone Oxford shirt is professional yet cool, and these peach skinny jeans add humor. In lieu of her rope bracelets, though, I’d go with a gold-tone watch. And on the feet? Brogues or kitten heels, for sure. No flats with these pants!

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BDG printed button-down, urbanoutfitters.com, on sale for $29

Short dress and low heels (or vaguely masculine shoes)
Yes, as temperatures climb, so do hemlines. It’s okay to wear a shorter dress (be classy, here, ladies) at the office. The key is making sure you still look professional. A short dress that you would wear to the beach is likely not a great option for the office. (Except in a case like this, which I wrote about last week). But if you stick to classic prints like nautical stripes, shirt dresses, polka dots, or understated florals, you’ll be in great shape. Lace can work too, as long as it is paired with the right accessories. I like to add a chunky belt, dramatic earrings, etc. Hairbows are wrong with flirty dresses. It’s too little girlish, and not womanly enough for an office environment.

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this works because her gladiator-style low boots are subtle and funky. i would definitely throw a blazer over this though. and for happy hour, the back of the dress has a pretty openwork design you’ll love. needsupplyco.com, $88

Peplum top and cropped jeans with platforms
Okay, so to go ahead and break MC’s denim rule, I think a slightly faded jean can work. But the pairings have to be impeccable. In this case, she is wearing a sharp, white peplum top with a necklace-inspired yoke, and sky-high heels. Her cuffed jeans work, despite their lighter wash. Make sure if you go this root that your heels are incredibly high (but that you can walk in them) and that your accessories are chic and contemporary. And, ladies, definitely save this one for Friday.

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rag + bone jeans, $242; giuseppe zanotti platform wedges, $850; DKNY top, $89; all, bloomingdales.com

Outfit Ideas: A Casual Cotton Dress Suits Up

I really didn’t feel like getting dressed this morning. I barely slept last night thanks to having a Diet Coke way too late in the evening on top of a pretty searing headache. Uninspired and running late, I threw on my go-to for mornings like these: a base of black tights (in this case, footed. It’s 80 degrees in Texas) and a fitted black tee. Now what?

Usually, in my slimming body armor, I can just sidle right up to my dresses and pull on whichever strikes my interest. But I was still feeling blah and couldn’t find one that would be comfy enough. I just needed comfy this morning, as I’m sure we all sometimes do.

A-ha! The genius idea struck me like sartorial lightning. My new cotton weekend dress. Initially envisioned paired with cowgirl boots and likely not even a bra underneath, suddenly this cute little dress was all I wanted to wear to work.

I recently got a shipment of Free People dresses (Josh’s absolute favorite brand of clothing on me, so I can get away with shopping there a tad more heavily without being scolded). Among them is a fabulous little navy dress in the absolute comfiest cotton I’ve ever felt. It features a racerback and a drop waist for a dose of California-cool but is not so lax that it can’t be made luxe. I dressed mine up today with my favorite little hot pink Marc by Marc mouse flats, and off I went.

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All day, I felt like I was wearing pajamas, but that didn’t stop the compliments from rolling in. And this dress is so lightweight and breezy, it will work just as well over my bikini in two months when Josh and I steal away to go floating down the river with our friends. Talk about the place where fashion meets function! This is one happy girl.

Get yours now, before they sell out! It’s on sale, too, people.

What a Difference a City Makes

I was in New York for family reasons over the weekend. While in town, I did have the distinct pleasure of meeting my dear friend’s two-week-old son on the Upper West Side. I also enjoyed the exquisite Japanese tasting menu at a hot new restaurant in Williamsburg and made it to one of my bridesmaid’s bridal showers in the West Village. I found an hour to visit my doctor in Midtown East; also very necessary. It was quite a hectic, yet important, trip.

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My return home was delayed due to a security scare and subsequent evacuation at La Guardia airport this morning. The good news: no one was hurt, and I managed to find a cab in the scramble and get the hell out. The other good news: I have one extra night on my little brother’s couch in Williamsburg, and had one extra afternoon to wander the streets of Brooklyn soaking it all in.

Last night, we saw a friend whose first words to me were, “Where’s your big hair?” Since stepping off the plane Saturday morning, I’ve been wearing it bone-straight like I always did here. I whipped out my cell and showed her some shots of the voluminous, curly style I’ve been sporting in Dallas. She approved, natch.

-1Dallas is an incredibly chic city. So is New York. But the differences, large and minute, are everywhere. Things are more pared-down here, more subtle. But then a black trench that you think is just a black trench is actually a vintage Burberry find worth upwards of $3,000. I’ve been living in Texas for about seven months now, and my eyes are newly opened each day to the over-the-top beauty of the Southern girl’s guide to style.

A woman in the Uptown Dallas highrise where we live stepped off the elevator the other afternoon wearing the pale pink studded Valentino stilettos I’ve been eying for months. Being the loud-mouthed Lawn Gisland Jew that I am, I couldn’t help but gush. “OMG, I love your shoes.” Maybe a New York girl wouldn’t have been so inclined to gush back at me, “Get them! I could run a mile in these,” and then turn to Josh and confirm, “Really. I could.” OK, girl. Let me just dig around in my purse for the 800 bills. He’ll totally approve, now that he knows you could run in them. It was really quite sweet.

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these are SO dallas, and i love them SO much.

But then you’ll find yourself in Manhattan on a Monday afternoon and a woman in a black leather bomber jacket and the brightest of poppy-hued lipstick is hailing a cab. You won’t tell her how chic she looks because, even though she wants you to notice, she doesn’t want you to tell her. But you’ll smile at her and she’ll smile back in an unspoken exchange of, “Work it, girl.”

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polished NYC street style at its best.

Just over the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll find a punkier, messier, just as sexy appeal. Street style runs the gamut from H&M to Alexander Wang, from Max Mara Weekend to J. Crew, Helmut Lang and more. There’s a glorious high-low mix that I appreciate and adore in Brooklyn, and now that I’ve submerged myself for a few days, I’ll be sure to bring it back to Dallas with me when I return. You can only be from one place, but you can sprinkle the style that you soak in everywhere you go to help create your own unique look. And no matter where you are making a glam new life for yourself, it’s always important to remember — there’s no place like home.

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LOVE it.

Winter Florals

Is anyone else feeling dark and floral these days? I love a good summer dress, and sometimes in winter months I long for that fun pop of pretty that a flower print can bring to your look. The solution? I’ve been integrating my favorite summer florals into my winter wear in new and inventive ways. So far, seems to be working!

Yesterday, I sported my favorite little Betsey Johnson acquisition from this summer, a black spaghetti strap mini dress with all-over pink flowers. To winterize and dress it down, I layered it over thick black Wolford cotton velvet tights and a 3/4 sleeve black tee. On my feet, I wore my new favorites–a pair of velvet Tory Burch smoking loafers that are as comfy as slippers and as chic as everything you’ve been coveting from the magazines this season. The compliments rolled in!

Here are some winterized florals for you to check out. Would you rock this trend?

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At Least I Have My Nails

I have been a busy girl. There is no denying it! Joshy and I are on a crazy wedding diet that requires all our meals to be made at home. Who’s the short order cook around here? You’re looking at her. Add to that the work, the work outside the work, the personal work, the housework and of course working on the wedding… what do you get?

A very overtired, often grumpy, hopefully thinner, Me.

Enough complaining. I will share with you my absolute favorite thing about Dallas. In this over-the-top, beauty-obsessed land of the lovely, there is always a manicure place open for business. And unlike in New York (love you, home state, but really) they are all immaculately clean and you rarely have to wait. Okay, now the best part? Chardonnay and Miller Lite are in the fridge and ready for the sipping. Or chugging, as the mood may require.

I have switched almost entirely to gel polish (AKA shellac) manicures because there is a different removal method down here that allows your nails to breathe and doesn’t require that abrasive filing that happens up North, damaging the nails. Instead, they just continue to grow longer and stronger with every passing shellaced week. And to be in and out with a gorgeous pedicure and flawless gel polish mani plus wine and a shoulder massage for $70 in under an hour? I’m sold, baby.

Here are my favorites:

Ultra-glittery gold was a hit. In the right light, it looked almost pink. This was a great choice.

It was my birthday and I was craving an old favorite — Riviera by Chanel. I had her use it in between the shellac base and top coats. Worked like a charm!

My roommate in college posted a sign on our door Day Two saying “Warning: Pink Overload Ahead.” She would be laughing now… some things never change. I like this one a lot, with a bit of sparkle on the bling finger.

Not the greatest photo, but I had to include. This is the man-approved one. OPI’s “Big Apple Red” makes men weak in the knees. Just try it. You’ll see.

One week after getting your gel mani, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol (the purest you can get, 95% is good) and wipe each nail. This will keep the color from dulling and give it that ultra-shiny finish it had on Day One.

The moral? It is always a good time to treat yourself. Work can be crushing and relationships can be hard. Friendships can suffer and diets totally suck. But even on your darkest day, there is nothing so pleasant at glancing down at your lovely nails and knowing that one thing is always intact. I may not have it all, all the time, but at least I have my nails.

Some Chill Sweaters

Dallas weather has been in the 80’s but this morning as I stepped onto my balcony to enjoy a coffee break, there was a marked chill in the air. And I loved it! I’ve been pouring over all the fashion mags lately and am enticed by inventive sweaters in bold hues, fun patterns, and surprising shapes. Here are some that every girl has to try this fall:

Green Goddess

Emerald is important this fall. Try it in a chunky knit sweater paired with black mini skirt and knee-high boots or socks with brogues for NYC style on any budget.

You can make this work look by pairing items you already have in your closet with a sweater like this plush crew-neck option from Vince, $320, bloomingdales.com.

Animal Tracks

An oversized moose-print sweater paired with leggings, red shoes and a fedora is a go-anywhere look that’s easy to throw together in minutes.

You can work in red and a pattern with this oversized cheetah-inspired sweater from MINKPINK, $80, urbanoutfitters.com.

Star Quality

A black-and-white celestial sweater is grown up yet playful, and pairs well with colored denim or cords. How cute does she look?

I found a crazy-affordable star-print sweater that you must purchase today. Wear with jeans, leggings, even a pleated mini. Love this find from Bisou Bisou, $25, jcpenney.com.

Relentless Summer

It was “cold” and drizzly this weekend. We laughed out loud as we saw the locals huddled at the tables outside Starbucks, shivering in their fleeces and warming up with a hot coffee or tea. Josh was in shorts and drinking an iced beverage. I was secretly shivering in agreement with the locals.

Three days in the 60s and 70s and I was over it, but now the heat is back and I am whining to a different tune. I love summer, but when you’re stuck indoors working and the sun is shining outside your window, it gets a little old, no? Nothing motivates a girl like a good cloudy day where she can hunker down and focus. Or at least, that’s my view.

In terms of fashion, it’s still too warm to rock a lot of my fall finds, but I am finding small ways to work them in. Hey, if you can’t take the heat, reinvent the outfit.

Things I love:

A three-quarter sleeve mini dress with heels is wearable in warmer weather but with the polish of a fall ensemble. In a few weeks, you can add tights and a blazer.
Catherine Malandrino dress, $395, saks.com

A breathable blouse with white pants is perfect for in-between days. You aren’t getting too dark and fall-ish, but you’re covered if the temperature drops.
Tory Burch silk blouse, $325, toryburch.com

Sparkly peeptoes work with summery minis, white or blue jeans, and into the fall transition of black cigarette leg pants or a wool midi-skirt.
I adore these Giuseppe Zanotti’s, $1,495, bloomingdales.com

I bought these lightweight Gap cords over the weekend. Josh loves the fit, and I love the color! They work now with flats or brogues and a T; they’ll be even better in two months with ankle boots and a wool sweater.
1969 Legging cords, $59, gap.com

BBQ, Dallas-Style

We were invited to a barbecue at Joshy’s boss’s house on Saturday evening. Of course he wanted me to dress “casually” but I have long since stopped taking his outfit advice. Let’s face it, my love. You like me in jeans. The rest of the world expects a lady to dress.

I finished the look with pink and cream Ferragamo pumps and tortoise shell Ray-Ban wayfarers, which I felt a fitting contrast. Do you love the cab in the background? Like New York City, but smaller, calmer, and just a tad warmer….

I nabbed this ladylike yellow number with very subtle lacy-floral print at H&M over the weekend for a sale price of $15. Also featured here. I might go back and buy it in pink too, because you can’t beat that price. And though it has a very 60’s cut and feel and cute zipper detail at the back, it’s made of soft, breathable cotton that is a welcomed treasured down here in the Texas heat.

Turns out, I made the right choice. The other women at the party were all in dresses, including the boss’s wife who looked lovely in a Giorgio Armani-esque gray silk patterned dress and simple gold jewelry from –where else? — Tiffany & Co.

Welcome to the glamorous South, you little Brooklyn girl. Time to work it!