In Fashion: Up-Braided

Posted at 5:00 AM Dec 11, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Perhaps it's my love of simplicity, my penchant for Pippi Longstocking, my slight tendency toward the hippie-punk-spinster aesthetic and/or my insatiable need for wash n' hair, but I've always been a braided hair girl. 

It might be a quickie French braid before what I expect to be a grueling day at the office, a bun/braid that acts as an easy way to keep at least some of my bacteria to myself when cooking or a quirky little set of braids when I need to spice up my look and I don't have the energy for an official up-do.

My love of braids extends to the wide world of fashion, and it seems that designers are finally ready to play ball. I've suddenly discovered braided details everywhere - on handbags, coats, tops and accessories ... Below, a round-up of my favorite be-braided finds!

Getting Cuffed:

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In Fashion: Lumberjack(jill)

Posted at 5:00 AM Dec 04, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


Lumberjack chic. Is it possible? One wouldn't think so, but then again, one wouldn't think that heroin, cowboys or the armed forces would be ready and plentiful sources for fashion inspiration, and yet they've proved to be time and again.

Now the fashion world has moved north, and they've returned with a bundle of warm, woodsy, surprisingly sophisticated designs that evoke cozy cuddles around steaming mugs of homemade hot chocolate and rough 'n tough days in the woods, your only companions a sharp-edged ax and a towering scape of soon-to-be-felled trees.

Below, a round-up of my favorite lumberjack(jill!)-inspired finds:

Watch out belooooow:

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In Fashion: Get Tight with Tights

Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 27, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

What is with New York ladies this year? Is it the somewhat unseasonably warm weather? A general state of denial?

Whatever the case may be, no one's covering their stems. Or they are--just not with the bulky pants and dull, pilly, stale-looking (and smelling) overcoats I normally see cropping up like weeds  all over the subways and streets of Manhattan.

Instead, I'm seeing a legs garnished in wildflowers, lace, berries, insects, zebra stripes, leopard spots and colors that mother nature never intended, but totally should have thought of. It really is a jungle out there.

I've decided to join in the fun! I'm pulling out all of the boring suit skirts I wore a few times to interviews, I bought on impulse for dull corporate event, or my Mom purchased for me for Christmas from Anne Taylor over the years, then zipping them up with vaguely insane looking tights, kicky heels, over-the-top costume jewelry and a plain-jane shirt (also from my under-the-bed pile of rejects that I fear throwing away because they're so damn practical).

Not only am I excited to play dress-up again, er, get ready for work, I've actually found ways to wear a bunch of old crap thereby eliminating the need/desire to buy a bunch of new crap! Yay.

Below, my faves:

Candy striper:

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In Fashion: All That Glitters That Ain't Gold

Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 20, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Grimbellina weather, wild winds blowing chunks of street detritus in my already red and totally dried-out eyeballs, mumsy overcoats and layers layers layers that must be constantly adjusted, removed and put back on and arranged! It's not even the New Year yet and I'm already beyond over Winter Fashion 2010.  

While a trip to the Bahamas isn't in the cards this year, there's no reason I can't eke a little sunshine out of my closet without adding a stitch of clothing.

My latest obsession is with all that glitters and is not gold. The wackier, the tackier, the glitzier, the glammer the better. Join me in donning a little early holiday cheer this year in the form of sparkling fakies. Below, a round-up of my favorites.

Feeling cocky?

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In Fashion: Hippity High-Waisted Skirts

Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 13, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


Yeah, so I skipped the whole high-waisted mom jeans thing, because, seriously? No. If they have the power to make J.Lo look like a frumpy, frustrated and frugal third-grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio circa 1976, I shudder to think what they would render me.

However! I am totally into this whole high-waisted skirt thing. It's Mad Men, Wall Street and Sex and the City (when Patricia Fields put down the crack pipe) all rolled into one - sex, power, glamour, sizzle, oomph. And they flatter every figure, promise!

Below, a round-up of my faves.

For the indie rock star:

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In Fashion: Ruche-a-rama

Posted at 5:00 AM Nov 06, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

While watching Video Fashion Daily (on mute) the other day, I found myself dancing around to a very special song (in my head, natch) and replacing the word ruche with freak to the all-time musical classic "Le Freak" while simultaneously drooling over all of the deliciously ruched creations that sprang from Christopher Bailey's gorgeously addled fashion genius mind. It was quite a sight. Me, I mean. Oh, yes -- and the clothes were pretty sweet too.

From twisted skirts, to scrunched bags, to beautifully squashed sleeves and crumpled cravats, the models appeared to be wrapped in head to toe saran wrap - in the form of colorful (and often plaid) gabardine, washed chiffon, double faced duchess silk, layered tulle, buttered leather and suede, weaved together by ingenious little fairy fingers. It sounds butt-ugly, but it totally works.

Luckily for the unwashed masses, we don't have to drop a year's worth of college tuition to get the same louchely rumpled, chic, fun look. We must merely turn to the bumper crop of surprisingly well-tailored knock-offs knocking about the shelves.

Sing along, ladies ...

"All that pressure got you down/Has your head spinning all around/Feel the rhythm, check the ride/Come on along and have a real good time/Like the days of stopping at the Savoy
Now we ruche, oh what a joy..."

Le Ruche, C'est Chic:

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In Fashion: Long Strapped 80's Purses That Don't Remind Me of My Mom's Bad Fashion Choices of Yore

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 30, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

The very notion of strapping on a long-strapped handbag instantly brings back bad memories of corny, clunky Coach and Dooney and Bourke mumsy, jazzed-up, high-end, tricked-out fanny packs from the late 80's that my Mom, grandmothers and aunts sashayed tackily about in. There, I said it! Ugh, I hate them! (Sorry Mom!)



The fashion gods have done it again: they've taken a heinous, long-buried trend, resuscitated it Frankenstein-style and created a beautiful thing. That's right: I wanna wanna get my hands on a few of these buttery, sleek, long-strapped, postmod numbers. (Next week I'll probably be legging it to Super Cuts to get some feathered bangs. Sigh. The things we do for fashion.)

And you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be wearing a blissfully hands-free purse across my body and snuggled at my left hip for handy access. It's a nice change from toting my totes and wedging a giant shoulder bag under my right armpit.

For Fellow Big Bag Ladies:

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In Fashion: Cardigans' New Rap

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 23, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Cardigans, long the unsung heroes who swoop in and save the day during every working gals' Manic Monday fashion panics, are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Like Grandma Moses, you'll generally find me swathed in layers of cardigans, scarves and brightly hued fake pashminas. Whenever a member of my unholy trinity of goose-bump warriors gets a little love from the fashion gods, I rejoice. And more importantly: I stock up.

In this grim recessionista season, the variety of cardigan styles cluttering the internets and the shelves of my favorite shops is good for everyone on a budget, because they're so damn versatile.

Pair a long one with trousers or a simple skirt and pumps, and you're set for the office; change into sexy cigarette jeans, sky-high stilettos and sling a chunky belt around your waist, and you're ready to hit your roommate's-best-friend-from-college's-cousin's party, where there's allegedly some hot guy who's new in town and is also totally into Japanimation and is as stoked to meet you are as you are him.

A round-up of cardigans that will warm the cockles of your heart, and your epidermis:

For the girly girls:

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In Fashion: Hat It Up To Here

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 16, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Isn't it simply marvelous when an accessory is utilitarian and gorgeous? In no other wearable object is this marriage of the two often incongruous lovers as splendidly harmonious as in the hat.

I used to hate hats; I thought they were tedious accouterments only to be strapped on when my mother or the teacher on the playground happened to be watching. As soon as their backs were turned, whatever ugly, woolen concoction that had been foisted on me would get balled up in my pocket and I'd carry on, nippy red ears and all.

Not until high school, when I was exploring my goth phase, did it occur to me that hats could be non-cheesy fashion statements (i.e. not corny Easter bonnets, straw hats for events at which horses and mint juleps were involved or the dreaded dirty prepster baseball cap so beloved by my cohorts). Really: Hats have the ability to transform a person's entire persona - just ask Samuel Beckett and Milan Kundera.

Below, a round-up of hats I've tossed in the ring for your delectation.

The cocktail-swigging flapper:

When I spotted this puppy languishing in a display case at Forever 21 (pictured above) I sprinted across the store, grabbed it and slapped it on my head. Then I did a really technically bad and excessively frazzled-looking Charleston! Then I realized I was acting like a maniac, turned bright red, shuffled to the check-out and bought it. It's deeeeeeeeeeeviiiiiiiine. I feel like Zelda Fitzgerald sans the dipsomania whenever I don the chic little cloche. $14.80.

The ski-toting outdoorsy adventurous:

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In Fashion: Entrenched in the Trench!

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 09, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

When green leaves stop sprouting, instead bursting into flames of chartreuse and the dimmest, duskiest reds, trench coats become as inevitable a sight as the proverbial green-tonged rake.

This year, however, Burberry and Celine spiced things up for us, offering their own vampy twists on the classic trench.

If the idea of cinching up your standard-order beige flasher-esque number has you as jazzed as the prospect of 6 months of leafless trees, try on these sassy numbers for size:

Summer in Fall:

The zany, dizzying pattern on the conservatively cut trench dress makes me feel like I'm getting ready to hit the beach -- with my briefcase. Which is kind of weird, but if I must be toting a briefcase, I may as well be doing it at the beach. Rachel Roy's $149 trench dress (pictured right) is like slamming a margarita and then slapping yourself in the face at 8:00 am. Zowie!

Chic and sleek:

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In Fashion: Mortal Kombat Boots

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 02, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


"Kiss the boots of shiny, shiny leather. Shiny leather in the dark."

During these swiftly darkening days, fashionistas everywhere are picking up on the decided downbeat--but totally trot-worthy--trend of strapping on a pair of mortal kombat boots for everything from a strut through the maze of cubicle land, to a trip through Tarjay, to your standard night on the town--these days, hooker/S&M service provider/ninja warrior/preposterously-uncomfortable-but-drop-dead-sexy heels are not just merely D-List Celebrity- and Angelina Jolie-appropriate.

Mortal Kombat boots are officially socially acceptable.

So let's strap em on, shall we? Below, a round-up of my favorites. (It still isn't cool to pair em with micro-minis - and super short dolls should aim to keep them hovering around knee length to keep their gams looking long and strong).

Out for a jolly tramp:

Purple, faux suede, over the knee boots. Hmmm, some would say the Jeffrey Campbell number is over-the-top trampy, but I think that's kinda the point. If you're going to wear 29" tall boots with a four-inch heel (with just a touch of stretch so they fit most stems like a tailor-made glove), you're kind of missing the point if you get them in brown. How could you have a bad day traipsing around in these gems? $168 at Urban Outfitters.

Video vixen:

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In Fashion: Pad It Out

Posted at 5:00 AM Sep 25, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


Toodles, puny shoulders: ring in football season in style with shoulder pads that would make the most insecure, underweight and over-compensating lineman blush.

And why not? There's a reason the broads of Dallas and Dynasty were so refreshingly outre and ballsy. Aside from their personality disorders and bouts of binge drinking, bitch-slapping and heartbreaking, they must have found their decidedly alpha mode of dressing, involving daily strap-ins to veritable suits of armor, starring shoulder pads OUT TO HERE!, rather bracing.

Designers, in a strangely recession-oblivious moment, are throwing their cajones in the ring, with aggressive macho looks more suited for the battlefield than the couch. The better to wow fashion journos with? Let's follow their lead and get in gear! (At the very least, according to corny "fashperts" everywhere, shoulder pads will whittle totally your waist, make your butt look half its size and make it so your shit don't stank.)

For the super-fems

Not convinced? Too girly to dress like Peyton Manning? Relax, Ms. O'Hara. You can always start small with this booty-hugging shirt that will flaunt all your curves and add just a touch of heft to your shoulders - the crew neck cut, ruched sleeve details, slightly flared hem and jersey material - no man will ever think you're anything less than a lady. Torn by Ronny Kobo. $143.

For your inner Battlestar Galactica siren:

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In Fashion: Casual Chick vs. Haute Chic

Posted at 5:00 AM Sep 18, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


Fashion Week is upon us! And as usual, there's a slapfest abrewin'. The throw-down du jour? We have confident, casual looks from the likes of Alexander Wang and Charlotte Ronson in one corner vs. fluttering, haute confections from Derek Lam and Diane Von Furstenberg in the other.

Who has emerged victorious? You!

Thanks to the wonders of lightning-fast knockoffery so reviled by industry insiders and so revered by broke-ass fashion-hungry Dolls like myself, I finally get to have my cake and eat it too.

Just seconds after drooling over Wang's tough girl in a corset paired with pea-green capes stomping down the runway, followed by sassy Henley pants and flirty dresses, or slavering over Ronson's mad hatter take on mall couture with acid-washed denim, bulging shoulder pads and more studs per square foot than your average NFL football locker, we can all run out and buy the looks ourselves.

On the other hand, if upscale downtown bar looks ain't your thing, you can turn to interpretations of Derek Lam's luxe sequined offerings or uber-fem print dresses and skirts, or Diane Von Furstenberg's spectacular East-West celebration of sophistication expressed through an enthusiastic mash-up of globe-galloping prints, feathers and glitter, in everything from chiffon vests to shift dresses glinting with gold coins.

Some of the sassiest interpretations found online and at massive discount retailers near you are below!! Happy shopping!

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In Fashion: Welcome to the Jungle!

Posted at 8:00 AM Sep 11, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox


I generally associate animal prints with the likes of Mrs. Tony Soprano and up-and-coming rap stars. This year, however, they're unavoidable. I'm not yet ready to don head-to-toe zebra print, but I am planning on starting small. Perhaps a splash of snakeskin here or a spot of leopard there?

Auspiciously, not all of the material used to create these eye-catching frocks consists of Lycra, perilously high pin-thin spike heels, actual dead furry beasts or excessive gold lamé detailing.

If you're trembling on the zoo fence too, look at it as a response to the Great Recession: perhaps throwing on a little leopard will bring out our inner lioness - the better to slay our competition in the jungle with .... Mrreee-oooorauw!

And hey -- if designers as (relatively) circumspect as Michael Kors and Lanvin are diving into the sharp-clawed fray with their fall collections, and with Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and W all featuring sprawling safari and forest-inspired editorial spreads in their September fashion issues, surely we can handle a wild accoutrement or two?

A bite:

Those who are decidedly underwhelmed by the animal print craze can feel free to growl (or at the very least, mewl) with approval at the trend with a hilariously, intentionally kitschy vinyl wallet from Forever 21. This cheetah print number is tackiness incarnate, but unlike Cha Cha Digrogorio, she knows it. Reminiscent of Grease, greasers and Pulp Fiction (the movie and the literary genre), I'd snag this wallet whether it was on trend or not. $7.50 at Forever 21.

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In Fashion: Crisp White Blouses

Posted at 5:00 AM Sep 04, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Forget Granny's tyrannical rule: no white after Labor Day. Nothing says "Fall!" like a jaunty white blouse - and this season is offering a multifarious medley of funky cuts that are in violent opposition to anything Plain Jane would wear.

No matter what your shape, fashion proclivities, age or jobby-job, the white blouse will never go out of style. It just so happens that this season, there's a fresher crop of options from which to pluck your pick.

Eccentric, sexy chic:

This sheer white shell from Trixxi definitely requires a camisole, but it's worth it. Flirty and fun, it hugs the body in all the right places with a sassy ruffle detail around the bodice, a mandarin collar and short sleeves with one-button cuffs. Black piping around the ruffles, collar and trim add to its unique allure. On sale at Macy's for $28.50.

Distracted, deep-thinker:

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