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This blog is dedicated to style. More specifically, it focuses on the intersection between the spheres of media (film, tv, etc.) and fashion, as well as with my personal take on news and trends in entertainment and fashion.

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Nine of Carrie Bradshaw's Most Memorable Outfits (and how to make them your own)

Tue, 07/17/2012 - 2:01PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

We all know that Carrie Bradshaw is one of the most iconic female characters of recent television history, both by virtue of the modern, boundary-pushing issues her character struggled with each episode and of course, her incomparable wardrobe, styled by the extraordinary Patricia Field. I doubt there's a single viewer of SATC that hasn't been inspired by Ms. Bradshaw in some way or another. Whether mixing prints, baring a midriff, or wearing two different colored shoes, Carrie made us feel like it was more important to have fun with fashion than to follow the rules. And to honor her impact on myself and so many others, I wanted to share some of my most beloved of her ensembles, as well as show how you might recreate them or simply translate their themes in your own unique way. And so, without further ado...

The Arrival in Paris

This is truly one of my favorite looks of the entire series. It is just SO perfect for Paris and so timelessly chic (it's Sonia Rykiel, after all). One of the great benefits to breaking all the rules and never following trends is that your outfits rarely look dated. Mix and match trends and eras in one ensemble and you're immune to ever looking  behind the times.


The important things about this ensemble are the black-and-white color scheme, the mixing of different striped patterns, the sparkling coat, and the oh-so-chic chapeau. Here's how I would recreate it.

RED Valentino Bow Trim Stripe Tee

 $295.00 by RED Valentino at Nordstrom

Comme des Garçons Shirt / Striped Poplin Skirt

$320.00 by Comme des Garcons at La Garçonne

Paris Trench Coat by Jones and Jones**

$180.00 by I.N. Studio at Topshop

Badgley Mischka Lucie

$215.00 by Badgley Mischka at Zappos Couture

Eugenia Kim Lauren Vintage Sisal Fedora

$297.00 by Eugenia Kim at shopbop.com


These pieces are not identical, but they are similar to the original, and they are all pieces I think Carrie would wear. To try this look with pieces from your own closet, I'd recommend mixing prints of the same style (flowers, stripes, etc) in different sizes, but complementary color families, or vice versa. Pair it with luxe accessories and you're Paris chic!



Childhood Whimsy+Grownup Chic

Another of Carrie's trademarks is to wear incredibly youthful, sometimes ironically innocent pieces (like gingham, cutoffs, pigtails) in a very sexy, grown-up way. One great example of this is her pairing of a vintage Mickey Mouse tee with a white, tuxedo jacket, and black leather pants.

Here's how I would recreate it


Junk Food Mickey Mouse Club Triblend Basic Tee

$27.00 by Junk Food at Revolve Clothing



$218.00 by BCBG MAX AZRIA at Bloomingdale's

Leather & Stretch Twill Pant

$585.00$292.50 at Nicole Miller

Women's Mossimo® Peep-Toe Cuffed Booties - Taupe

$32.99 by Mossimo at Target

Once again, these are all Carrie-inspired pieces. If you want to try this look with pieces from your own closet, I'd recommend a boyfriend blazer with a shrunken graphic tee paired with your skinniest jeans and some sexy stilettos or booties. The key here is mixing the childish with the sophisticated. And, of course, to have fun!


Meet Carrie

This is our very first introduction to Carrie. Sweeter than some of her looks, but still very identifiable as a Carrie Classic. This is one of the looks the four best friends revisit in the first movie when Carrie is packing up her whole apartment. It not only carries nostalgia for them, but now for an entire generation of single girls.

Here's how I would recreate it:


Mystree Lace 2fer Tank

$55.00 at Piperlime

Club Monaco Olga Tulle Skirt

$139.00$69.50 by Club Monaco at shopbop.com

Valentino Strappy Sandal

$995.00 by Valentino at Footcandy

To channel this urban ballerina look from pieces in your own wardrobe, try some ballet flats with a full skirt, feminine belt (maybe even a ribbon used as a sash), and a pastel-colored tank top. Easy, pretty, classic.


Luck Be A Lady

I have to say, Carrie's Vegas ensemble from Season 5 is really one of my favorites, largely because the top is just so incredible. It's this luscious gunmetal material with a brocade on the neck and sleeves. Amazing. The rest of the outfit is really understated: black pants and strappy heels.

The only photo I could find of the top was about the size of my pinky nail, so I found this video instead. If you get about two minutes into the clip, there's a great shot of Carrie's outfit.


Here's how I would (try to) recreate it:


VPL / Insertion Bra

$95.00 by VPL at La Garçonne

Drome 'Metal Powder' Leather Top DROME

$745.00 at Nordstrom

Fine Stretch Wool Wide Leg Pleated Trousers

$198.00 at Max Studio


Miss KG Minnie Bow Front Platform Heeled Court Shoe

$152.41 by Miss KG at Asos

With this one in particular, the imitation is less literal, but I hope I captured the spirit of the outfit. If you want to channel this look on your own, all you need is a statement top paired with understated pants and complementary shoes. In this version, I echoed the peach in the bra top in the shoe. The point is to draw attention to one part of the outfit and to let the rest of the pieces harmonize and emphasize this piece.


The Last Big Date

The outfit Carrie wears to go on her last night on the town before Big moves to Napa is one of the most lovingly selected outfits of the series. And sadly, after Carrie finds her perfect shoes (those stunning pink ruffled Louboutins), Miranda's water breaks all over them! Before their watery end, the shoes (and dress and coat) make the perfectly romantic, Old New York statement Carrie had set her heart on.

Here's how I'd recreate it:

Vera Wang Lavender Label black sequin organza slip dress

$387.00$257.99 by Vera Wang at Bluefly

Badgley Mischka Randee

$215.00 by Badgley Mischka at Zappos Couture

Dolce & Gabbana PATTERN COAT

$1,349.00 by Dolce & Gabbana at mytheresa


To channel this look with pieces from your own closet, try an understated dress in a solid shade, pair with an open trench coat and statement-making stilettos. Voila! You're ready for your very own Big night on the town.


Breakfast at Tiffany's (2.0)

This is another great example of Carrie unabashedly playing dress-up. She's harnessing Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's with the updo and the pearls, but she takes it past the point of demure elegance by piling on more strands than any woman would while trying to stay within the bounds of good taste. She further underlines the lighthearted vibe of this look by mixing her engagement necklace and an antique-looking gem piece in with the pearls, and really stresses the little-girl-in-heels sensation by wearing a hot pink graphic tank (with her trademark visible black bra) as the backdrop. I think what really keeps this look from being ridiculous is the clean, sophisticated makeup she wears. If she had taken things a step further and gone for a smokey eye or a red lip, she would have risked looking clownish. But once again, Carrie shows us how to push boundaries without making a mess of things.

Here's how I would recreate it:

R.J.GRAZIANO Cream Pearl Multi Row Necklace

$85.00 by RJ Graziano at StyleBop

Robyn Rhodes Harper Necklace in Teal Jade : Robyn Rhodes Women

$53.00 at CoutureCandy

Multirow Thin Chain Necklace

$28.00 at Topshop

Fluorescent Pink Bleached Heart Tank Top

$45.00 at Topshop

Sanctuary Runway Skinny Crop Pant

$55.00$39.99 by Sanctuary at Piperlime

L.A.M.B. khaki leather 'Cahoot' platform pumps

$206.00 by L.A.M.B. at Bluefly


To try your own Breakfast at Tiffany's 2.0 look, just throw on some costume jewelry with a statement-making updo. Contrast the uptown, evening motif you've got going on from the neck up with a super-casual, daytime outfit, like a graphic tee, cropped jeans or trousers, and a simple, sexy heel. Remember to keep your makeup minimal and if you start feeling six years old again, embrace it! This look is about infusing the act of dressing with the youthful exuberance we lose with age.

The Blooming Book Launch

For Carrie's meeting with her book editor followed by her first "date" with Berger in Season 5, she wears this amazing mixed-print Marni minidress (how's that for a tongue-twister?) with a striped, embellished coat. The combination of the textures and prints really just makes for a deliciously light and frothy confection of a work/party/day look.

Here's how I'd recreate it:

See By Chloe pink floral sateen lace top dress

$378.00$288.99 by See by Chloe at Bluefly

Oscar de la Renta Striped Long Coat

$2,790.00 by Oscar De La Renta at Bergdorf Goodman

Fendi nude suede and satin strappy platform sandals

$620.00 by Fendi at Bluefly


Downtown Ballgown (J'adore Dior)

The Dior tee+romantic lavender full skirt is another one of Carrie's most special and distinctive looks to me. When I saw this outfit in the trailers for the first movie, I think my jaw dropped. There is really no way to describe the perfection achieved by the pairing of this ironically chic Dior top with such a fantastically impractical ballerina skirt. Heaven.

Here's how I'd recreate it:

Wildfox War is Over Sequin Campfire Tee in 2 colors

Knot the tee over the dress, or wear the dress alone!

MARC BY MARC JACOBS Colorblocked Silk Dress

$598.00 by Marc by Marc Jacobs at Nordstrom

N.Y.L.A. Women's Velvey Strappy Platform Sandal

$114.95$63.22 by NYLA at Endless.com

Smythe Equestrian Blazer

$650.00 by Smythe at shopbop.com


The magic of this outfit is in the pairing of the most basic, casual piece in a girl's wardrobe on top (albeit a Dior version), and the most formal piece on the bottom. To recreate it on your own, take a vintage (or just old) tee with some sort of unique quality (a logo, graphic, etc) and pair it with a super-girly, flouncy skirt in a complementary color. If you have an old cocktail or prom dress with a full skirt lying around, you could EASILY repurpose that to create this look. Pair it with some edgy heels and you're ready to take Abu Dhabi (or the city of your choice) by storm! The jacket is totally optional, but if you have one that feels appropriate (strong shoulders recommended), throw it on for an added dose of sass.


Newly Engaged Gal

The vintage studded belt that's basically the 5th main character in the first SATC film is one of my favorite pieces of the entire franchise. Patricia Field has said it was a vintage find, but plenty of retailers have produced knockoffs due to the incredible demand for the belt. One of my favorite appearances of the belt is its pairing with this lovely pink linen cutout dress Carrie wears in the scene where she tells Samantha about her engagement. With a single strand of pearls and black booties, it's another example of the Carrie/Patricia mix-mastering mashups that have stood the test of time.

Here's how I'd recreate it:

Highpoint Dress

$218.00 at Trina Turk

Diesel Plaited Stud Detail Belt

$80.69 by Diesel at Asos

Opera-length pearl necklace

$495.00 at J.Crew

Dolce & Gabbana black mesh and floral lace peep toe booties

$660.00$625.99 by Dolce & Gabbana at Bluefly


To channel this look with your own pieces, start with a basic sheath in a notice-me color as your neutral base. Then, alternate your accessories between girly and hardcore. Black booties and a studded belt work with pearls and a ladylike bag. Play with different combinations to find what you like best, just try to keep a balance between the two styles. That's the key to making this look work.

I could do this for days, but I have to stop somewhere, so I'll leave the rest of the interpreting to you. What are your favorite Carrie (or Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte) looks from the series or the films? How do you channel their chicness in your own wardrobe?

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Jane Birkin, the Birkin Bag, and How to Channel Her Style on a Budget

Fri, 04/22/2011 - 9:02PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

In The News

Recently, the news came out that the wait-list for a Birkin bag is no more. You don't need to name drop (we're looking at you, Samantha Jones) to get one in less than six years. All you need now is 5,000 dollars (rock bottom, that is) to get your own Birkin. Though this makes the bag slightly (very, very slightly) more accessible, it is still one of fashion's most storied and sought-after pieces. So, before I explain how to channel Jane Birkin, I suppose I should explain why you'd want to.

Jane's Addiction (or, more accurately, my addiction to Jane)

Jane Birkin is a fashion icon whose name, thanks to her eponymous Hermès Birkin, is synonymous with luxury, elitism, and exclusivity. The bags range in price from 5,000-150,000 (with Victoria Beckham apparently owning over 2 million dollars worth of Birkins). But contrary to the associations Jane has with this iconic fashion accessory, she herself epitomized the classic, easy style and grace of the artist/muse/hippie role she has filled throughout her life. She is the kind of woman who pairs vintage dresses with designer pieces (think Olivia Palermo, but more boho). She'd walk around with a Chanel bag and fresh-picked flowers in her hair... barefoot. So how did she come to inspire the most famous bag in history? Well, allow me to explain.

(Here are a few of Beckham's infamous Birkins)


Becoming Jane (Jane Austen Biopic Reference Intended)

Jane was born in London to an actress mother and a Royal Navy lieutenant-commander. She became a model and actress in the 1960s, meeting her future husband and musical collaborator, Serge Gainsbourg (their daugher is musician, muse, and actress—genetic lottery winner, anyone?—Charlotte Gainsbourg), in the film Slogan, performing with him on the film's theme song, "La chanson de slogan"—the first of many collaborations between the two. She continued to work in film and music to great success for the next few decades.

The Birkin Begins

It was not until 1984 that the Birkin came to be. On an auspicious flight from Paris to London, Jane was unknowingly seated next to the chairman of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas. As the story goes, Birkin pulled her Hermès datebook out of her bag and spilled the contents of it all over the floor. She started talking to her seatmate about how difficult it had been to find a bag that was both stylish and practical, keeping all her belongings in place. Soon after, Dumas created a black supple leather bag for her, based on an 1892 design. Jane began to use the bag for herself, but ironically enough did not stay loyal to it for long. Despite her abandonment from her namesake accessory, it has gone on to fame in its own right.

Here's a photo of Jane Birkin's personalized Birkin. She's been quoted as saying bags should look worn, personal, tossed around a bit.

Birkin: Up Close and Personal

Birkins can be customized in nearly endless ways. They come in a range of sizes and can be made to order with different hides (ostrich, crocodile, lizard), color, and hardware fixtures. If you happen to have some spare change lying around and your bedazzled Blackberry just isn't enough, you can get your Birkin encrusted with diamonds. Each bag is lined with goat-skin, and the color matches the exterior.  The bag has a lock and keys. The keys are enclosed in a leather lanyard known as a clochette, carried by looping through a handle. The metallic hardware (the lock, keys, buckle hardware, and base studs) are plated with gold or palladium to prevent tarnishing. You can even send you Birkin for a spa day, as Hermès offers a reconditioning for overly used bags. The bags are handmade in France by expert artisans. Each bag is hand-sewn, buffed, painted, and polished, taking an average of 48 hours to finish. Leathers are obtained from different tanners in France, resulting in varying smells and textures. Because of the individual craftsmanship, other details of the bags may not all match. The company justifies the cost of the Birkin bag, compared to other bags, based on the meticulous craftsmanship and scarcity. Despite the fact that the Birkin does not feature a single logo, it is one of the most distinctive bags in the world. They're seen on the arms of stars like Victoria Beckham, Eva Longoria, and anyone with the last name Kardashian. It is highly coveted and, for several years, was famous for its waiting list of up to 6 years – the longest wait for any bag in history. In April 2010, Hermès announced that the waiting list would no longer exist, making the dreams of many wealthy but not-quite-famous women (and perhaps a few men - hey, Johnny Weir has a Birkin) come true.

Here are a few different versions of the bag

And Johnny Weir with his...

Becoming Jane (Part Two)

This time, "Becoming Jane" refers to how we modern day fashion girls, unceasingly seeking the perfect combination of uptown and downtown, boho and traditional, can use Jane Birkin as inspiration to achieve that goal. As I mentioned earlier, Jane's aesthetic was a combination of studied elegance and spontaneous serendipity. It's mixing classic with trendy. So, classic shapes with trendy patterns, or vice versa. This season, a maxi-dress with a cropped leather jacket, gladiator sandals, and a Chanel shoulder bag would be my perfect definition of that. Here's an outfit I think would make Jane proud (and maybe even ask you where you got it).


The Outfit


What actually inspired this whole post (other than my recent obsession with all things Birkin) was my discovery of this cheeky canvas Birkin-print tote. Originally, I thought it was tacky. Then I decided it's more like a cute way to advertise your love for fashion without going out and buying a fake Louis Vuitton or something. Like the real thing, it comes in a variety of colors... unfortunately, I don't think the diamonds are an option. You could DIY some rhinestones, though (just kidding - don't go there). Sidenote: I learned today that the brand that created this bag is being sued for copyright infringement... woops.Though I really don't think they're filching the Birkin's target demographic.

(Bag, Thursday Friday, $45.00)

This sweet striped cotton dress has all the slouchy appeal of a Parisian femme en biciclette (that's girl on a bicycle...I think) and is incredibly versatile. A sequined vest and ankle boots, neutral wedges and a fedora, a studded belt and statement cuffs - there are a thousand different ways to wear this dress. And as the jet-setter she is, I think a well-edited wardrobe is something Ms. Birkin would certainly appreciate.

(Dress, $24.95, Urban Outfitters)

And here are a few of my choices to accessorize the perfect Birkin dress.

FP-1 Shimmers of Holiday Vest

$68.00$29.95 at Free People

Lucky Women's Agnes Thong Sandal

$79.00$43.45 by Lucky Brand at Endless.com

2b Straw Spring Fedora Hat

$12.95 at Bebe

Mini-stud leather belt

$39.00$19.99 at J. Jill



And a few more pictures of the lovely lady, just because she's so charming. Let her inspire your wardrobe today!


(all facts about the Birkin found on wikipedia)

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Trend Report: Navajo Prints

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 1:05PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

Bold. Graphic. Vibrant. These are key words to describe both the overall mood in fashion right now, and this week’s trend in particular: Navajo-inspired Prints.

(Above, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, and Heidi Klum all rock printed scarves.)

Do Native Americans actually have anything to do with these prints?

A connection, though  indirect, does exist. In the late 1800s, the brand Pendleton Woolen Mills began creating patterns incorporating symbols from various tribes (in addition to non-Native American symbols).

Due to Pendleton’s widespread popularity, the woven garments with borrowed inspiration began to be perceived as original Native American patterns.

Regardless of the origins, the aboriginal-sourced patterns have recently been cropping up in runway shows like Vivienne Westwood and William Rast, at retailers like The Gap, and on style-setters like Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Alba, Heidi Klum and Nicole Richie.

Here are a few fun Navajo-print celeb adventurers from whom to learn:

Gwen Stefani, Ashley Tisdale, and Blake Lively go bold with printed caftans (to varying degrees of success). We’ll give Gwen the benefit of the (no) doubt as hers look like pedicure flip flops. While there’s no fashion excuse for Ashley’s hat, and Blake’s outfit could benefit from a heel (to balance the volume of her wrap), it is Miss Lively who comes the closest to getting the story right.

Rachel Bilson, as always, is pitch-perfect in a summery print tank, citrus-hued sandals, and a black pencil skirt. She has also been known to rock the reverse, balancing prints on the bottom with solid classics on top.


How to Get the Look:

When playing with prints, I recommend choosing one Navajo-print accent and keeping the rest of your pieces in solid colors (unless you feel confident that you’ve mastered the art of mixing prints). Toy with color combinations that are complimentary or contrasting to your printed item, but make sure to stay in the same tonal family (meaning stick with either cool colors OR warm colors – not both).

Here are some great Navajo-print pieces to warm up your wardrobe this winter.

Vero Moda Navajo Print Dress ($44.93, asos.com);Amanda Uprichard Joan Strapless Dress ($144.99, piperlime.com)

Navajo Print Pocket Tank ($14.99, fredflare.com); Navajo Printed Sweatshirt ($37.74,asos.com)

Fringed Navajo Print Scarf ($48, fredflare.com); Navajo Sweater-Shawl ($29.80,forever21.com)

Add one or two of these items to your cold-weather wardrobe and you’ll warm up the chilliest of climates!

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Trend Report: Houndstooth

Thu, 10/20/2011 - 4:46PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

Houndstooth: A Trend to Sink Your Teeth Into

Houndstooth has been around for centuries. Originally a print used specifically on the outerwear of shepherds in the Scottish Lowlands, this print (also known as dogstooth and shepherd’s check), has experienced countless iterations since its inception.

It became a popular trend in fashion beginning in the 1920s in England, when the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson (you may remember her as the woman King Edward VIII – played beautifully by Guy Pearce in The King’s Speech -- abdicated the throne of England to marry) made it her print of choice.

In the same period (1938 to be exact) while working for Swiss fashion designer Robert Piguet, Christian Dior made his first big splash as a designer by creating a houndstooth suit, which became one of the trademarks of his “new look”.

Since then, houndstooth has been seen as a hallmark of the restrained, elegant manner of dressing employed by high society. Worn by literal royalty as well as figurative, houndstooth has long enjoyed its association with high-class refinement.

(Queen Elizabeth II in houndstooth hat, suit)

(Jackie Kennedy's Houndstooth Suit)

But in its recent revival, with new life breathed into the classic trend by fashion risk-takers like Lady GaGa, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gwen Stefani, it has taken on a more playful personality.

Now, houndstooth is not something you have to wear head-to-toe (though Ferragamo’s hugely popular houndstooth dress certainly gives you the option).

Seen here on Kim Kardashian, Lady GaGa, Teresa Palmer, and Fan Bing Bing

If houndstooth is worn this way, it’s with a little bit of attitude (or in Lady GaGa’s case, a LOT of attitude, and matching sunglasses). Here Gwyneth Paltrow modernizes the print with bright red booties.

But the new way to wear it is in punchy accents paired with bold brights, or try it in different colors than the traditional black and white. Pair a houndstooth shoe or clutch with a coordinating print, or a bright solid to add graphic interest. Here, Alexa Chung and Ashley Greene choose to wear houndstooth bags with their solid, knee-length frocks.

Alexa rocks houndstooth again, this time with shades à la Gaga (though we think Alexa’s might be a tad more practical).

She makes it work with a similarly small floral print in complimentary colors (eggshell and navy).

Below, one of my favorite celebs, Jayma Mays, styles houndstooth in a playful-but-preppy, sexy-but-demure way. She pairs a menswear-inspired houndstooth blazer with a slinky mini-skirt and horse-print sweater, finishing the look with metallic heels.

What’s great about this trend is that it can really add interest to any look – formal or casual, proper or cheeky. All you have to do is choose the statement you want to make. Here are a few adorable accessories if you just want to dip your toe in the houndstooth pool (and one or two apparel selections for when you’re ready to dive in headfirst).

MUK LUKS Houndstooth Mukluk Rain Boot

$39.49 by Muk Luks at 6pm.com

Houndstooth Vest

$148.00 at Rugby

2 1/2" Houndstooth Shorts

$59.90$39.99 at Express

Woven Houndstooth Trench with Belt

$44.99 at Charlotte Russe

Houndstooth Fedora

$24.95$12.47 at New York & Co.

Motel Houndstooth Chain Detail Dress

$69.84$34.92 by Motel at Asos


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Trend Report: Color-Blocking

Sun, 09/25/2011 - 12:05PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -


Color-blocking is not exactly a "new" trend. It's been around for ages in different incarnations, but it made a strong showing this month at couture and ready-to-wear shows in New York, London, and Milan, which means we'll be seeing even more of it come spring 2012. Spotted on the runway and the red carpet more times than I can count (this summer alone), this is obviously a favorite look among celebrities and designers alike. So, I thought a refresher course in what it is and how to wear it might be in order.

Maximalist color is having a moment. The competitive sport of fashionistas everywhere has become balancing the most outlandish, yet somehow perfectly coordinated, high-impact color palette in one ensemble.

Here are few of my favorite recent showings of color-blocking:

Rose Byrne's knockout getup here (aided in part by her show-stopping new blunt bangs) pairs Ronald McDonald red and yellow with a delicate, antique print in a mature, luxurious cut, making it more avant-garde than comical.

(Dress by Christine Alcay)


Olivia Palermo's recent foray into color-blocking (one of several) really demonstrates an example of color-blocking made easy. Choose a simple, color-blocked dress like this one and all you have to worry about is finding complementary accessories. I love Olivia's choice of her standby statement necklace, a neon bright Reiss clutch, and fuschia satin heels by Stuart Weitzman.

(dress by DKNY)


And demonstrating that color-blocking can work flawlessly at any age, Iman wears a beautiful Prabal Gurung piece with Irene Neuwirth jewels and chunky black sandals.


These three ladies have demonstrated beautifully three different ways to gracefully ride the color-blocking wave.

A few tips to try the trend yourself:


How To Wear It:


Wear a Color-Blocked Dress

The easiest way to dip a toe in the water is to buy a color-blocked dress. It takes the guess-work out of pairing complementary colors. If you're apprehensive about putting so many colors in one outfit, pick a neutral shoe and bag. Your dress will make enough of a statement on its own. If you feel emboldened by your foray into the world of color-blocking, choose statement hues for your accessories. Here's an example look:

EIGHT SIXTY Color-Blocked Dress

$98.00 by Eight Sixty at Lord & Taylor


A dress like this would look great with a simple black clutch and heels, but here's what to try if you're feeling brave:

Clare Vivier Foldover Clutch

$143.00 at Revolve Clothing

Georgine platform heels

$235.00 at J.Crew


$115.00 at Reiss

These colors work because they are complementary, not competitive. And since they are all solids, the overall effect isn't too busy. A metallic cuff ties it all together.


Try It With Separates: DIY

If you do want to try pairing separates in a color-block theme, it's good to take it slow. To start out, pair a bright hue with a nude hue.

Alice + Olivia Arie Tie Collar Blouse

$264.00 by Alice + Olivia at Bloomingdale's


$180.00 at Reiss


This insanely bright Alice & Olivia top is perfectly office-appropriate when paired with an oatmeal-hued pencil skirt. Pair with nude pumps to keep it understated, or add a kick of color.

ASOS PATCHI Cylindrical Heel Platform High Shoe

$82.33$65.86 at Asos


You can bring accessories to play, too, if you feel ready for it. The only real rule in color-blocking, like with all fashion, is to HAVE FUN!


Before I send you off to make the world a brighter place, here are a few key rules to remember when putting together your own sure-to-be-gorgeous color-blocked ensembles.

Allison's Five Commandments of Color-Blocking

1. To avoid looking like you belong at a rave, keep the neon pieces in your outfit to one. It's okay to pair brights with brights, but neons don't tend to play well together.

2. If you're worried you've gone overboard, or paired two colors that clash worse than fuschia and maroon (obviously a no-no), trade one bright piece for a neutral. These include white, grey, brown, black, and nude.

3. Colors at the opposite end of the color wheel tend to make great color contrast partners (like Iman's robin's-egg blue and canary yellow).

4. If you're having trouble finding the right combo, stick with different shades in the same color family. Try hot pink, pale pink, and fuschia or cobalt blue, sky blue, and navy.

5. Take a page out of Helena Bonham-Carter's book. Rock anything with confidence (even different-colored shoes), and you'll make it work.

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Lived-In: The Incredibly True Saga of Fashion's Most Enduring Icon

Tue, 03/22/2011 - 12:41PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

If I told you some of the most beloved, chic, and versatile items in your closet were invented in 16th century Europe in response to a need for heavy-duty workwear for manual laborers, you probably wouldn't believe me. But that is exactly where the story of denim begins.


The word "jean" comes from the French word for Genoa in Italy (Gênes) because sailors in Genoa were the first to start wearing denim trousers. The word "denim" is purported to have come from the French term “serge de Nîmes” which translates to "twill from Nîmes." This fabric was actually a was a blend of silk and wool.

In the early days, jeans were made from a coarse cotton-wool and/or linen blend. In the 18th century, as trade, slave labor, and cotton plantations increased, jean cloth started to be made completely from cotton.

Jean vs. Denim

So, is there a difference between jeans and denim? And if so, what is it? Denim was the stronger and more expensive of the two, the major difference between them being that denim was woven with one colored thread (the warp) and the other white (the weft), while jean was woven with two colored threads. Jean was usually dyed with indigo, a dye taken from plants in the Americas and India, which is responsible for the dark blue color. Jean and denim were used for different types of clothing, denim being used mainly for workers and jean for lighter clothes that did not require as much durability. So when did the two terms become interchangeable? For the answer to that question, we turn to the story of Levi Strauss.

Levi Strauss and American Jeans

Levi Strauss came to America from Bavaria in 1847 with his mother and two sisters. They arrived in New York where his half brother ran a wholesale business selling various types of fabrics and clothes. In 1853, a 24 year-old Strauss, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods intending to open a branch of his brother's New York dry goods business in California to supply the prospectors with items unavailable to them till that point. After opening his store and telling a prospector he sold canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the man responded "You should have brought pants!," saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last. Strauss swiftly moved to fill that hole in the market by turning the canvas into overalls. The pants were a hit, but the jean material tended to chafe, so Strauss substituted it for serge de Nîmes, or denim. Due to the similarities to jean material, the pants were eventually nicknamed "jeans."

An early pair of Levi's

Jacob Davis And The Next Phase of Denim
After the problem with the material was solved, another issue that arose were the pockets, which were easily torn away from the pants. A tailor from Nevada, Jacob Davis conceived the idea of using metal rivets to hold the pockets and the jeans together. Davis lacked the funds to get a patent, so in 1872, he wrote to Levi Strauss offering the use of his innovation in exchange for Strauss' funding of the patent. Strauss accepted, and he started adding rivets to his 'waist overalls' (as jeans were called then). By the 1920’s “waist overalls” were the most widely used worker’s pants in America.

An early version of a rivet

Levi's: Becoming The Brand

In 1886, Strauss's company began to use a leather label on their jeans. The image depicted two horses tearing apart a pair of jeans. This was meant to emphasize the strength of Levi's jeans: even two horses could not tear them apart. The red tab attached to the left rear pocket was created in 1936 as a means of identifying Levi’s jeans at a distance. These are both registered trademarks that still serve as identifying details of every pair of Levi's.

The Logo

Early Popularization of The Blue Jean

Hollywood has had a powerful influence over fashion for nearly a century now (shameless plug for my blog on that topic: http://allisonmdans.onsugar.com/Movies-Changed-Face-Fashion-13432145). An early example of this influence is found in the 1930s with Western films and blue jeans. The rogue hero, the cowboy, became a cultural icon. The effort to emulate this ruggedly cool style put denim in high demand. It was trendy to visit dude ranches and take pairs of denim 'waist overalls' back home.

Some imposing western figures

The next faction to popularize the blue jean were World War II soldiers. They became a popular choice for off-duty clothing, and nationalistic civilians were quick to follow suit. After the war, Levi began to sell their clothes outside the American West. Rival companies, like Wrangler and Lee, began to compete with Levi for a share of the rapidly growing market.

This guy makes mopping stylish in denim on denim (nothing is new under the sun, right?)

James Dean & Counterculture

Denim's profile in the 1950s was raised unequivocally by its prominent featuring in the classic James Dean film, Rebel Without A Cause. Dean was the first to give mass appeal to the skinny-legged jean. It became popular among counterculture teens, and unpopular with the adults trying to quash this subversion. Certain schools banned jeans, but the youth's appetite was not diminished, as evidenced by the inescapable popularity of blue jeans during the 60s.

The Man Himself

Hippies and the Growth of the Counterculture

Jeans were a defining characteristic of the hippie culture in the 60s and 70s. The creative spirit of this wave led to the artistic individualization of pairs of jeans, by means of bleaching, dyeing, painting, embellishing, tearing, and all manner of modification. This is really the point at which jeans were recognized as a means of expressing one's unique identity. Hip-huggers, bell bottoms, baggies, and elephant ears took over. Eventually, retailers caught on and began doing the work for the consumer. As a result, pre-washed, or "faded" jeans began to sell. Outside the US, jeans became a symbol of Western decadence and were very hard to get. US companies received many letters from people all around the world asking them to send a pair of jeans.

Hippie music fans walking through the mud at Bardney Pop Festival

1970s: Sweatshops and Disco

In the 1970s, regulations on world trade became more relaxed. Jeans began to be made more often in sweatshops in countries in the South. Because of the low pay for sweatshop works, jeans became cheaper, and more people in these countries started wearing jeans. Meanwhile, in America, disco was in full swing. Flare jeans became the uniform for disco babies, male and female. Beginning in the later 1970s, disco fell out of favor and with it, the beloved flare. Denim stayed under the radar briefly, and experienced a resurgence and rebirth in the 1980s.

So much flare!

Designer Denim

The 80s was a period of fashion experimentation, and designers, inspired by the pliant, yet sturdy character of the jean, began to manipulate it in new and avant-garde forms. Jeans became an even more significant part of the fashion conversation with various brands like Sergio Valente, Jordache, and Calvin Klein creating more feminine, curve-hugging styles. Different treatment processes like bleaching, tearing, and acid-washing were common statements in the 80s. It was the uniform of off-duty models and the stylish elite (sound familiar?). One of denim's most iconic moments was the Calvin Klein ad campaign featuring a fresh-faced Brooke Shields seductively saying "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins." Denim had never been sexier. But as always happens in fashion, one extreme pushes against another, and sexy denim was overcome by the baggy, hip-hop-favored style of the early 1990s.

Can you believe how sexy she is at 15?! No wonder this campaign caused a stir...

The Dark Days of Denim

Okay, so that title might be a bit more foreboding than baggy jeans and chinos deserve... but then again, maybe not. With the popularization of hip-hop, young men began to favor boxer-flaunting jeans, while the preppy sect turned to other fabrics and styles like khakis, chinos, and sportswear. I think this explains why so few people get nostalgic for early 90s fashion.

It hurts me to post that on my blog. But you all deserve to see how bad it was. Now, let's move on.

Modern Incarnations of the Jean

As we know, denim is more widespread than ever. From jeggings to work-shirts, dresses to shoes (and yes, even swimsuits), there's really no corner of the sartorial scope that it has failed to infiltrate. With so many options, you'd be hard-pressed to meet a person who doesn't own denim. Denim was previously shunned by socialites and ladies who lunch, but with the advent of slim-cut, dark denim, jeans have become one of the most flattering, versatile, and elegant casual options for high society. On the other end of the spectrum, cut-offs and distressed jeans are favored by hipsters, paired with American Apparel deep v's, toms, and technicolor sunglasses. Though denim is now celebrated as much for fashion as function, manual laborers still opt for the sturdy pant as work-wear of choice.

Katie Holmes showing us a classy way to wear jeans.

My favorite thing about this photo is that the title is simply: "Hipster."

The many incarnations of denim make it clear that the jean is an irreplaceable, unforgettable part of the American wardrobe, historically, presently, and most likely for the foreseeable future.

My favorite ways to wear jeans now

Denim on denim

The Shirt-Dress (This one is the Lipsy Pixie Bleached Denim Shirt Dress)

The Cuffed Jean: shown here on Lauren Conrad, the cuffed jean adds a fresh, casual twist to an otherwise standard outfit.

I hope this little history lesson has been informative as well as inspirational. Even though denim's been around for hundreds of years, you and I can still find innovative ways to make it fresh and unique. So find your style, and wear it out!

Works Consulted





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My Best- and Worst-Dressed of the Oscars (And Anne Hathaway's Time-Traveling Outfits)

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 5:41PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

Oscars Fashion 2011


The Oscars are, some would argue, the biggest night in fashion. While that might be debatable, there is no question it is film's most fashionable event. Last night was  a sea of sparkling jewel tones and demure lace confections. The sheer number of stunning gowns on the red carpet was incredible. There has been a lot of talk lately that this is the age of the stylist - and with cohost Anne Hathaway wearing 8 different outfits, chosen with the help of very pregnant stylist Rachel Zoe, it's hard to disagree. Though there are a few celebs who do it without any help (Diane Kruger, Blake Lively, Helena Bonham Carter) to varying degrees of success, the vast majority of red carpet personalities enlist the help of a professional to make sure they present the best possible image at these highly public events. This concentration on perfection was evident in the understatedly elegant gowns worn by last nights nominees and guests. Even the usually quirky Michelle Williams and Helena Bonham Carter chose surprisingly conventional (though lovely) dresses.


Michelle Williams in Chanel


Helena Bonham Carter in Colleen Atwood (yes, the Oscar-winning costume designer for Alice in Wonderland)


While I miss the outlandish looks of some years past (Halle Berry's plum-colored, sheer Elie Saab number from 2002, Celine Dion's unforgettable Dior suit), it was wonderful to see so many of these gorgeous women wear dresses that really suited them and highlighted their wonderfully unique features. Berry and Dion both actually wore amazing gowns last night, Berry's Marchesa frock being near the top of my best-dressed list. While this year's "worst" dressed is really more of a "well, you don't look as amazing as the rest of these women" list, it has a few surprising names on it. It was honestly difficult to pick favorites, as so many ladies made gasp-worthy entrances. Comment to let me know if you agree with my choices, or if you have different picks for who nailed it and who missed the mark.

Halle Berry in Elie Saab, 2002


Celine Dion in Dior, 1999



I think my favorite dress of the night was Mila Kunis's stunning lavender Elie Saab frock. Its draping and lace were gorgeous and frothy, appropriately very ballet-inspired, but they still showcased Mila's adorable figure wonderfully. Halle Berry wore a very similar Elie Saab number in red just a few nights ago. It looked beautiful on her as well, but with Mila's dark complexion and hair, and enchanting green eyes, the lavender really made her look quite ethereal. We have seen Mila in brighter, more modern-looking gowns for this awards season (her emerald-green Vera Wang and bright crimson Alexander McQueen), but she works the romantic look just as flawlessly.


Mila Kunis in Elie Saab


My second favorite dress of the evening is another lavender gown, worn by presenter Cate Blanchett. I have to say, I could not think more highly of Cate Blanchett's clothing choices in general. She manages to mix just the right amount of androgyny (that adorable haircut, her impeccable Hepburn-esque pantsuits) with a feminine elegance seen in her radiant skin and the graceful cadence of her walk. The red carpet pieces she chooses reflect that delicately balanced sensibility. I can remember the exact moment Cate unequivocally won me over. It was the 2007 Oscars, for which she chose this otherworldly, second-skin metallic Armani Privé gown with ear-climbing jewels resembling tiny, dew-covered vines. The luscious fabric of this dress looks fit for a queen (a role Blanchett played beautifully in Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age). The dress looked like it was made for Cate, and she was utterly exquisite.  She blew me away again this year in another piece of artwork, this time by Givenchy. The lavender gown, with yellow accents at the shoulder, had a three-dimensional aspect given by the structural, beaded embellishments around the shoulders, circling the waist, and trailing down the hips. Worn by someone less confident, regal, or statuesque, this dress would have taken over, remanding the wearer to the background. But Cate's beauty and personality shine through in this avant-garde piece.


Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé, 2007


Cate Blanchett in Givenchy by Ricardo Tisci


Next on my list is a woman who rarely looks less than extraordinary on the red carpet. She won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. She speaks fluent French (and uses it to make Russell Brand look like a jerk - in jest, of course). And at 63, she looks better in a bikini than most ever will. I'm talking about Helen Mirren, of course. Her cropped silver mane is a lovely accent to the shimmering neutral tones she loves. She knows just the right amount of glitz to add to any outfit, as evidenced by last night's elegant pendant and earrings. Her Vivienne Westwood ensemble for this year's Oscars will fit quite nicely in the Helen Mirren hall of fame (which, I bet you anything, will actually exist outside my imagination someday). The dove gray sheath draped over her curves beautifully. The dress flirts with sensuality, but is not overtly sexy. Mirren knows how to tiptoe on the line without ever crossing it. The 3/4-length sleeve is mature without being matronly, and the poufed sleeves offer a dose of whimsy to the gown. The mermaid skirt and her "stripper heels" as she fondly calls them add even more oomph to her stunning figure. Oh, if I could look like Helen Mirren in 40 years, well... I'd know I'd done something right.


Helen Mirren in Vivienne Westwood

Anne Hathaway really knocked my socks off last night. She wore no less than 8 different outfits, several of which look like they came from different decades (even centuries). She started with a red Valentino number on the red carpet, which was archived, so its 80s-style poofs makes sense. Then, she kicked off the awards with an incredible, frothy white Givenchy confection (one of the most modern gowns of the night for her). She went from that gown (which she wore for a blessedly long period - I was worried it wouldn't get much air time) to a fitted Lanvin tuxedo with custom Brian Atwood platforms for her adorable solo performance. After that, she went for a quirky Vivienne Westwood gown that looked fit for a 19th-century ball. It seemed a departure for both her and stylist Rachel Zoe, but it kept me interested. Her fringed Oscar de la Renta column gown was a show-stopper (literally, she stopped the show to swish the tassels), and channeled both the 20s flapper and the 70s disco queen. Her deep red Atelier Versace fit her like a glove and was my favorite of her gowns (I think it was hers, too, as she chose to wear it to the after-parties). Besides the Givenchy, it was her most of-the-moment dress. Her second-to-last gown was a cobalt blue Armani Privé number that would have looked quite at home on Ms. Blanchett (or Jane Jetson), but Hathaway managed to pull it off quite beautifully. This gown was from one of Armani's more futuristic collections and not something I would've expected Anne to wear, but with 8 outfits in one night... I suppose you can afford to go a bit outside your comfort zone. And I am so glad she did! With her pale skin and dark hair, the cobalt color really popped. Her final look of the night was a long-sleeved, sequined Tom Ford gown that I think she may have stolen from Joan Collins. Turtlenecks are not so common on the red carpet (for good reason, generally), but seeing as this one was made by Tom Ford, it's not quite as offensive as it might otherwise be. This is probably my least favorite of her looks, but it wasn't quite bad enough to get her on the worst-dressed list. Here are all her looks, with their respective time periods, from first to last. Enjoy.

Walking the red carpet in Valentino (did I mention she was WITH Valentino)?



The Givenchy bridal gown with stunning crystal embellishments (and note her custom-made diamante-encrusted false lashes)


Annie in Lanvin and custom Brian Atwood platforms, showing Hugh Jackman how it's done

The Victorian-esque Vivienne Westwood (the first of 4 period pieces she wore onstage last night)

Her glitz moment: the swish- (and disco-?) friendly Oscar de la Renta gown was a nod to 70s glam

The incredibly flattering burgundy Atelier Versace gown

Now, we're going back to the future with this space-age Armani work of art

...And finally...

With the excessive sequins, skintight fabric, and - of course - the turtleneck, this dress looks like it came from the set of Dynasty. Anne Hathaway looks great in everything, but there's no way she missed the 80s soap opera vibe of this Tom Ford gown.

My final best-dressed lady of the night was Halle Berry in Marchesa. Halle Berry generally looks great on the red carpet. She's been a bit under the radar fashion-wise recently, in large part because of the focus on the drama in her personal life, with her custody battle for daughter Nahla with ex Gabriel Aubry. But tonight, Berry returned to form (pun acknowledged, not intended) in a curve-hugging, show-stealing sequin-encrusted gown with tulle accents. While Berry did not get a lot of airtime during this awards show, her dress certainly deserves recognition. The knockout nude strapless gown featured tulle at the bust and the mermaid skirt.The dress's color played off Halle's caramel skin beautifully, and her minimal accessories kept the dress from being too busy. Halle really wowed in this dress. I'm glad to see her showing off her legendary figure and lovely face in such a gorgeous gown.



Worst Dressed:


Poorly dressed ladies were in short supply at this year's awards, which is a great problem to face. However, there were a few women who were just not at the top of their sartorial games. In the past, we've seen stunning gowns on all of these women, so we know they CAN do it right. But last night, Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johannson, and Florence Welch got it just a bit wrong.

I think Nicole Kidman is beautiful. Her complexion, her hair, those eyes, that accent - she's charming and elegant. But I often feel like there is something the tiniest bit off about her ensemble choices. I love that she has a unique aesthetic and she sticks to that. I also absolutely ADORED her Jean Paul Gaultier dress for The Grammys (and I rarely get that excited about a Kidman selection). But this Dior gown was not as winning. She looked a bit like an origami swan. The folds of the dress are really unflattering and the fabric somehow manages to look dated and (dare I say it) almost cheap. And - oh my goodness - the red peep toes. Those shoes were a cry for help if I've ever seen one. But just a pop of color couldn't make this folded napkin Oscar-worthy. The one thing I DO love about this look is the necklace. It is gorgeous, and though you can't see it in this photo, the clasp features a rope of diamonds cascading down her neck. It's really stunning. However, it cannot save the mess that is this dress. Fortunately, Nicole is a red carpet fixture, so she'll surely have a chance to redeem herself soon.


Kidman getting it right in Gaultier at the Grammys...

And getting it wrong in Dior at the Oscars.


My next worst-dressed pick is a lady whose fashion choices I usually applaud. Scarlett Johannson generally chooses somewhat unexpected looks for the red carpet, but makes them work. But this Dolce & Gabbana dress just really did not work for me. I hate to say this, but I think Scarlett forgot her Spanx. The gown is not flattering on her at all. And the sheer illusion on some parts of the dress is reminiscent of some late 80s lingerie... as is the burnt-orange eyeshadow and crunchy-looking bedhead. Again, the only good thing about this gown happens at the back. The circular cutout adds visual interest without being tacky. I do love this color on Scarlett, but everything else about this dress had the effect of making a beautiful girl look ordinary.

Scarlett Johansson in Dolce & Gabbana

The final worst-dressed of the night was none other than the fiery-tressed songstress, Florence Welch. Florence Welch is quirky and off-beat. She is not going to wear something conventional on the red carpet. I expected that. She could've even gone the Bjork route and I wouldn't have been shocked (this is the year of the swan, after all). But this smarmy Valentino frock looked more like a Mormon wedding dress. The cream hue is nice against her pale skin and red hair, but the ruffles,  lace, and high neck combine to make Florence disappear. Apparently, the dress was originally see-through and Welch asked the people at Valentino to make her a slip to cover her "naughty bits." While I'm generally against nudity on the red carpet, I think a bit of peekaboo might have saved this dress from the doldrums. As it is, Florence's sparkling personality and shocking mane will have to serve to keep her in our memory - this dress certainly won't.

Florence Welch in Valentino


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Hot Trends at the 17th Annual SAG Awards

Sun, 01/30/2011 - 5:32PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

The looks at the 17th Annual SAG Awards ran the gamut from sleek and understated to feminine and frou frou, from old Hollywood glamour to modern chic. But as always, the red carpet had a few trends that really captured our attention.


The most unexpected trend by far was the belt. Belting a formal gown can be a tricky move to pull off, but the belts tonight seemed to flow beautifully with the dresses they adorned. Most of the belts were thin and understated, the notable exception being Jennifer Lawrence's contrasting black waist-cincher. The list of belt-wearing babes is long, but I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Lea Michele in Oscar de la Renta

Lea Michele

Jennifer Lawrence in Oscar de la Renta

Dianna Agron in Chanel haute couture

Dianna Agron

Mila Kunis in Alexander McQueen

Claire Danes in Louis Vuitton


Another major trend on the SAG Awards red carpet was bright colors: diverse shades of orange, fuschia, and red ruled the roost.With spring around the corner, it's only natural that the lucky stars who get first dibs on next season's couture are already wearing warmer colors. We've seen this trend on Mila Kunis and Jennifer Lawrence. Here are photos of a few more ladies rocking the Rainbow Bright look.

Hailee Steinfeld in Prada

Julianna Margulies in Yves Saint Laurent

Sarah Hyland in MaxMara

Tina Fey in Oscar de la Renta (who almost deserves his own category)


The third craze at the SAG Awards has been a thread woven throughout awards season thus far: Black Swan-inspired gowns. Though Black Swan may not win best picture, it will certainly be considered the most influential movie in fashion this year. Frothy confections in blush tones, nudes, and blacks with feathered embellishments and lace paid homage to ballerinas real and imagined.

Nicole Kidman in Nina Ricci


Helena Bonham Carter in Marc Jacobs Resort 2011 (thanks to Meagan Proctor for that info)


Heather Morris in Romona Keveza

Eva Longoria in Georges Hobeika

Jane Krakowski in Badgley Mischka

Jayma Mays in Jenny Packham

Kate Mara in Herve Leger (and a really ill-chosen headband)

Angie Harmon in Monique Lhuillier

Jenna Ushkowitz in Badgley Mischka

Amber Riley in Anne Barge


The vast majority of the celebs this evening wore some version of a smokey eye. But probably the most prevalent beauty choice at the SAG Awards was a head of loose, sexy, tousled waves. As the SAGs ared considered a more laidback awards show, this is look is appropriate. The actresses felt they could quite literally let their hair down and have a good time. Many of the ladies wearing other trends opted for this hairstyle (Lea Michele, Claire Danes, Mila Kunis) as well as the stunners below.

Kyra Sedgwick in vintage Thierry Mugler

Julia Stiles in Monique Lhuillier

Hilary Swank in Versace

Sofia Vergara in Cavalli


All in all, I would say this red carpet, while featuring a few duds (as they all do), has had some pretty amazing looks, my favorites being Mila's, Angie's, and Julia's. I hope the awards show has half as many beautiful moments as the pre-show did!

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Movies That Changed the Face of Fashion

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 5:31PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

1. The Bare Chest: Clark Gable, "It Happened One Night," 1934. During filming, Gable had trouble getting through the scene at tempo while removing his undershirt, so director Frank Capra suggested he skip the undershirt. During a time when men ALWAYS wore undershirts, Gable's appearance onscreen bare-chested caused quite the coup. Not only causing thousands of women to feel faint in the theater, Gable caused sales of undershirts to plummet and started the bare-chest phenomenon. A rumor even surfaced that one underwear manufacturer had tried to sue Columbia Pictures.

2. Jeans and a T-Shirt: James Dean, "Rebel Without A Cause," 1955. It is hard to imagine that this simplest of combinations was once considered innovative and groundbreaking. But women didn't wear trousers before Katharine Hepburn, right? So it is with denim, white t-shirts, and James Dean. His character, Jim Stark, was effortlessly cool in an organic, careless way. By discovering and harnessing the power of this look, James Dean not only incited an army of lookalikes, but an enduring fashion statement that remains among the most sexy looks anyone - male or female - can wear. He also raised the profile of those undershirts Gable had so ruthlessly trampled on two decades before.

3. The Little Black Dress (...and pearls...and oversized sunglasses...and probably danish): Audrey Hepburn, "Breakfast At Tiffany's," 1961. As fashion no-brainers go, this one pretty much tops the list. Almost every woman, fashion-savvy or not, owns at least one of these. Many of us live in them. And we can thank Audrey Hepburn for proving to women the world over the irrefutable chicness of this article of clothing. To give credit where credit is due, Coco Chanel introduced the LBD way back in 1926. Audrey simply upped the ante. Standing in front of Tiffany & Co. in her pearls and large-framed shades, Audrey represented the beautiful dreamer in all of us. And we wanted to dress like her. As an aspiring socialite on a budget, Holly showed us how to create a variety of looks by using the same basic pieces: simple, impeccably-tailored, black dresses and neutral separates, mixed with eye-catching accessories like wide-brimmed hats, oversized sunglasses, and an abundance of jewelry. This is a lesson every woman should take to heart. And if the sales of little black dresses over the past 50 years are any indication, most of us have. If you're ever in doubt about how to dress for any occasion, just ask yourself WWAW? (What Would Audrey Wear?) Find the answer, and you'll be the chicest woman in the room.

4. The White Three-Piece Suit: John Travolta, "Saturday Night Fever," 1977. Though we don't see many of these anymore, everyone can call to mind the image of a disco-crazed John Travolta in his polyester best dancing the night away. Not only did he give chest hair some good press, but he gave disco fiends everywhere an icon to look up to. This look lasted far longer than disco as it was revisited by the mobster played by Al Pacino in Scarface. Despite its iconic status, until the runways bring it back, this style of dress is best left to costume parties.


5. Menswear for Women: Diane Keaton, "Annie Hall," 1977. So we know that Katharine Hepburn was first to break this societal norm by wearing pants. But it wasn't until Annie Hall came around that menswear for women really took off. Characterized by baggy trousers, men's shoes, loose dress shirts, suspenders, and ties, Diane Keaton's neurotic, but lovable character gave an alternative to women who didn't identify with the disco-sparkle, short and tight look of the mid-70s. Costume designer Ruth Morley scoured vintage and resale shops all over lower Manhattan to find pieces for Keaton to wear in the film, though the style of dress was nearly rejected. Woody Allen recalled, "She came in, and the costume lady said, 'Tell her not to wear that. She can't wear that. It's so crazy.' And I said, 'Leave her. She's a genius. Let's just leave her alone, let her wear what she wants.'" And it was a good thing he did, because "The Annie Hall Look" became such a paragon that the term "trend" doesn't even apply. Women in menswear have been in and out of vogue (And Vogue) since before the movie was released, but they never truly go away. Even when the style is on a downswing, the most fashion-forward among us will step out in suspenders and brogues and start the movement all over again. Oh, and did I mention Keaton won the Oscar for her portrayal of the delightfully awkward Hall? If the clothes weren't reason enough, perhaps its four Oscar wins will tempt you into seeing this classic film.

6. Armani: Richard Gere, "American Gigolo," 1980. Julian Kaye (Gere's character) is a male prostitute in LA who has champagne taste and uses his unsavory but lucrative job to indulge his caviar sensibilities. Giorgio Armani recognized the advertising power of placing his product in film, especially a film like this in which most of the appeal lies in the accessories of Kaye's life. In the scene where Kaye stands shirtless in his bedroom, laying out his Armani shirts across the bed and selecting ties to match, we get an intimate kind of fashion show that showcases incredibly Armani's collection, and turns it into an aspirational brand. Men who, like Kaye, want the most expensive, most luxurious in everything began to view Armani as fulfilling that need. This film put Armani on the map And oh, Mr. Gigolo: we are forever grateful.


7. Dancewear: Jennifer Beals, "Flashdance," 1983. There has always been a grace and inherent elegance associated with the world of dance. Translating ballet and jazz-inspired clothing into fashion trends is in no way a radical move. But the epitome of this sartorial ideal (until Black Swan, that is) has certainly been Jennifer Beals's Alex Owens in a cut-off sweatshirt and legwarmers. In an interview, Beals explains that the sweatshirt she wore in the film's most memorable scene was inspired by an accident. Jennifer had dried her sweatshirt at too high a temperature, resulting in its shrinkage. To put it on, she had to enlarge the neckhole. And just like that, a mania was born. Though the slouchy sweatshirt with legwarmers look may be a bit dated in 2011, dancewear will always be chic in one incarnation or another, as evidenced by the resurgence of wrap sweaters and dresses when Center Stage was released, and again by the avian-mania that is a response to the incredible influence of the Rodarte costumes in the film, Black Swan. So, while there will probably never be an occasion where I can get away with wearing a tutu again... sheer tights, chignons, and a DvF wrap-dress will always be in style.


8. Bangles, Bows, and Lace: Madonna, "Desperately Seeking Susan," 1985. Madonna is known for her style, and that is exactly what she brought to the table in this film. As the movie involved the New Wave and dance cultures, Madonna's aesthetic was a perfect representation of what young people wanted to wear. After the release of the film, studs, leather, lace, gloves, bangles, and bows were seen all over the streets. Beyond influencing fashion, "Susan" inspired a generation of over-permed, red-lipped, thick-browed women. I can say with some assurance, this film was the cause of many of the 1980s most criminal makeunders. But as Madonna is the master of self-reinvention, the "Susan" look was thankfully short-lived.


9. Beverly Hills Prep: Alicia Silverstone, "Clueless," 1995. This film was the first memorable movie in which we see teenagers actually being aware of designers and couture trends. Prior to this movie, if teen characters were dressed fashionably, it was never mentioned. "Clueless" was about Beverly Hills teens, who, being wealthy, had access to high-end wardrobes. The focus on fashion in Cher and Dionne's lives (from Cher's virtual closet to Di's eccentric hat collection) birthed a cult of teenagers who were more brand-conscious than any generation before. Short plaid skirts, knee-high socks, and platform Mary Janes were the Catholic school-girl-gone-bad uniform of preppy teens in the mid-90s. This film has had such an enduring sartorial influence that just last year, Cher's scandalous white Calvin Klein minidress was reissued. While I was too young to experience much of this trend's heyday, I have certainly used it to my advantage on several Halloweens past.


10. The Studded Belt, Manolo Blahnik, Bag Borrow or Steal: Sarah Jessica Parker, "Sex And The City," 2008. Okay, so it's kind of impossible to narrow or define the incomparable effect the SATC franchise has had on fashion. It has far surpassed "Clueless" in its dissemination of designer knowledge to the previously uninformed masses. But I chose three themes from the first film (because most of us want to forget the second) that I feel had a noteworthy impact. Now, when I refer to "the studded belt" I have no doubt that most of you know what I'm talking about. Because Carrie wears it in literally almost every scene of the movie. I wouldn't have been surprised if it made a cameo on that Vivienne Westwood wedding dress (okay, maybe a little). The Burberry belt in question set off a frenzy that, while massive, was unsurprising. Carrie Bradshaw's wardrobe has done wonders for any style or designer to whom she's ever shown love on air. Not only is this particular piece edgy, classic, and incredibly versatile, but three years later, it would still look perfectly on-trend. Few statement accessories have that kind of staying power. Manolo Blahnik, Carrie's footwear designer of choice, has benefited immensely from the success of this franchise - not only do you see his shoes in nearly every episode, but his name is spoken so many times (in hushed and hallowed tones, of course) that devotees of the show couldn't help but learn to pronounce it. Finally, I get to Bag Borrow or Steal: in the endearing words of Jennifer Hudson's Louise, "It's like Netflix for purses." When this film came out, I had never heard of BBS. If you wanted a designer bag, you either had to shell out a few grand, or become a recluse who lived on eBay and try to get one for a few hundred (yes, that's how I got my Chanel shoulder bag). But this website, like RentTheRunway and all the other couture-rental-sites spawned in its wake, was a breakthrough ripe for exploitation. Its placement in the most fashion-conscious movie of the century, up to that point (calm down, people, it was only 2008) just got the ball rolling with far more momentum than it might otherwise have had. So, while these three moments in SATC history don't come close to encompassing the vast influence these characters, their lifestyles, and most importantly their wardrobes have had on our lives, I think they are representative of the impact of this cultural phenomenon on American women and our closets.


I hope this recap of historic fashion moments has inspired you in some way. Whether you shop your closet this evening to create a Carrie- or Audrey-inspired look, or you simply rewatch one of these classic films with a danish or a cup of noodles, I wish you a fashionable evening, a stylish week, and a beautiful life.






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Four out of 5 Women Wear the Wrong Bra Size: Are You One of Them?

Fri, 10/01/2010 - 4:57PM by Allison Daniels 0 Comments -

I recently read the statistic that 80% of women are wearing a bra that is not their correct size. I find this easy to believe because until my freshman year of college, I was one of them. It wasn't until I had a painfully direct roommate (for whom I am grateful in retrospect) tell me that my bras made my "boobs look weird" that I made the effort of actually measuring myself to find my ideal size. Before you read on, I will caution you that once you learn your true bra size, you may be forced to shop somewhere other than Victoria's Secret to find it. Despite their monopoly on the lingerie market, the VS selection of sizes is seriously inadequate. But your efforts will be rewarded with comfort, mobility, and shapeliness no matter your size. So if you are ready to commit to changing the way you buy lingerie, let's start with the correct way to measure.

Measuring your band size:

Band size measurement is the ribcage measurement, not the cup size. It is referred to in numbers: 30, 32, 34, etc.

To start, place a tape measure around your body just under your bust. Make sure the tape is even all around. Either use a mirror or ask for a friend (or overly helpful roommate) to check it for you. Pull the tape taut around your body. Take the measurement in inches. The band size 3.5-5 inches above the number you get will be what you want. Example: a woman with a measurement of 23-24.5 inches would wear a band size of 28. A woman with a ribcage 25-26.5 inches around would have a band size of 30, and so on. If you fall in between, go a size up rather than down - there is a reason most bras have multiple hooks.

Measuring your cup size:

Usually, the cup size can be determined without measuring tape as cup sizes are relative to band sizes. For example: if you have gone down two band sizes you will go up two cup sizes. Personally, I thought I was a standard 34D. I discovered through this method that my correct band size was 30. Therefore, my cup size changed to 30E (also written 30DDD).


Congratulations! You've now measured your perfect bra size! However, knowing your size does not necessarily mean every bra in this size will fit you correctly or feel comfortable. Every brand and every style is different, so you'll need to try a few to figure out what's right for you. Here are some tips to help you discern whether or not a bra fits you correctly.


Cups: The center front and underwire should sit flat against the body. The underwire should fit the natural crease of each breast with no excess flesh sticking out from under the cup. There should be no bulging or gaping (especially on the sides) in the cups.

Band: The band should be even all the way around your body (like the measuring tape when you measured), and close-fitting without being so tight that it rides up in the back. The straps should sit parallel to one another. The straps should feel snug and secure without digging into your shoulders.


It can sometimes be hard to recognize a correct fit; believe it or not, many of us do not know the right way to put on a bra. Correct size or not, putting a bra onincorrectly will have a negative effect on the comfort and effectiveness of the garment.


Here is a guide for putting on a bra correctly. Practice it a few times and before you know it, it will be a habit rather than a conscious choice.


Extend the straps to their full length. Then hook your arms through the straps, lean forward into the cups, and fasten the bra. The alternative to fastening at the back is to twist the bra around so the closures are in front and fasten it there. This may require another adjustment into the cups. It is generally recommended to fit to the first closure. This will ensure that you can tighten the band as the bra loses elasticity. Next, adjust the fit by lifting each breast inside the cup while keeping the underwire down.The underwire should fit smoothly under each breast, sitting flat against the ribcage without pinching. Finally, drop the straps off each shoulder to reach the adjusters. Move the straps to a length where they don't dig into your shoulders. Many people don't realize that the band is meant to give most of the support - NOT the straps! So there is no need to pull the straps so tight that they put pressure on your shoulders. If this is done correctly, you should only need to adjust the straps the first time you wear the bra.

How to tell when the fit isn't right:

If the band rides up at the back, it is not fitting you tightly, meaning either it is too big or the straps are too tight. Loosen the straps to see how the band feels, keeping in mind that it provides most of the support. When you slip the shoulder straps down the band should still hold you in place, without being so tight it causes restriction or discomfort. If you lift your arms up or move them around, the band should still sit firmly in place and not move.

If the straps are digging in, the band may be too big, meaning that the straps are supporting you instead of the band – try loosening the straps too see how the band feels. If the loosened straps leave you feeling unsupported, you need a smaller band size.

The center front should sit flat against the body. If it is pushed away from your body, the cups are probably too small. Try a smaller cup size.

If the underwire is digging in under the arm, the cups are likely too small. It is important that the breast is completely enclosed by the underwire. You need a smaller cup size.

If you're experiencing spillage over the top of the cups, they are too small. You want the bra to create a smooth figure. If you see bulges, try a bigger cup size.

If the cups look loose or shapeless, try a smaller cup size. They should fit snugly around each breast.

The problem of different-sized breasts:

Many women have one breast slightly larger than the other. If the difference is noticeable, fit the larger breast and tighten the strap for the other. You can also use light padding in just one cup.

Now you're equipped to find and wear bras that enhance your natural shape and help you increase the ease with which you live and move every day of your life. If you've found that your new bra size is not one of those sold in your local mass lingerie retail store, here are a few online suggestions to supply you with great, well-fitting undergarments.