In Fashion: Fall for Leather

Posted at 5:00 AM Aug 28, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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The weather's about to cool down. Those pesky yellow buses with all of the screaming short people will emerge from hibernation. Your boss' c'est la vie approach to the timing and accuracy of your TPS reports is about to mysteriously disappear, as are carefree Sunday afternoons spent sipping iced coffees and complaining about the humidity.

It will soon be a sweet, sweaty memory.

Before the horror show begins, let's get bombed, shall we? And no, I don't just mean chugging two Irish Car Bombs in short succession. (One pint glass filled ¾ of the way with Guinness; ½ shot Bailey's; ½ shot Irish whiskey. Let Guinness settle into pint glass. Pour Bailey's and whiskey into shot glass, Bailey's first. Drop shot into Guinness, bottom first and drink! Deliciously reminiscent of a chocolate shake when glugged, it swiftly becomes a curdled mass of gelatinous goo if allowed to sit.)

No, I mean for you to burn rubber to your fave shopping outlet and snag one of the snazzy leather bomber jackets that are revving up the racks. It's all about zippers, fun extras and body-embracing silhouettes. And you don't have to spend a fortune or kill animals to get the look.

Sexy plus-size option:

I love Jessica London's take (pictured above) on the classic leather bomber: it's reminiscent of The Wild One, but manages to also evoke the crème de la crème of Napoleonic warrior gear. Genuine leather, available in tan, green and black. Reduced to $119.99.

Girly girl bomber (faux leather):

This jacket gracefully scampers the line between tough pin-up bad girl and primping princess. The body-hugging crinkled jacket with a pin-tucked and ruffled bodice, zipper pockets and vaguely metallic sheen could be paired with cigarette pants, slouchy work trousers or a flouncy swirly skirt. Available in bronze or black for $48.80 from Forever 21.

The classic (faux leather):

Silence & Noise's classic two-pocket bomber is also nicely naughty--and on sale! (From $128 to $89.99). This minimalist version of the bomber - thick knit collar and trim insets, a crapload of both hidden and exposed pockets - will have you ready to give Fall a run for it's hard-hitting money. Available at Urban Outfitters.

In Fashion: Dresses With Pockets!

Posted at 5:00 AM Aug 21, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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The recession may force the entire fashion industry into bankruptcy--from hot-to-trot designers to magazines that seemed as impervious to folding as Nicole Kidman's terrifyingly smooth visage--but it has brought fashion back down to earth.

Don't get me wrong, fashion without soaring flights of fancy and whimsicality defies its raison d'etre, but a few concessions, here and there, to reality are definitely welcome. And who knows? If designers keep churning out beautiful, unique, reasonably priced pieces that women can actually afford to don (comfortwear that ain't fugly in other words), the industry may save its own pert little ass - no government bailout required.

The latest stroke of brill? Dresses with pockets! Ok, so it's not like I load 'em up with my huge ring of keys, cell phone, wallet, Metrocard, magazines and other totally necessary accouterments to get me through the urban jungle, but there's something delicious and fun about futzing around the streets of Manhattan in a lovely dress with my hands casually slung into my pockets. It's comfortable chic - and it works. Even Angelina Jolie is rocking the look.

It's a mad, mad world:
Evoke your fave character (Joan Holloway, holla!) with this slinky early 60's-style red crepe very V-neck from Tibi. With three-quarter length balloon sleeves, patch pockets in the front and ruched details on the shoulders, you can sashay into fall, sirens squealing, in this wool, fully-lined sexfest. Originally $390, slashed to $156.

Cute fairy girl with a 'tude:
While this strapless Urban Outfitter only has one pocket (pictured above), it's an even-Steven balance of sass (mini-cut) and sweetness (flower pattern) will make you look like a sweet, innocent LES fairy who just slipped out of work early for cocktails, a quickie, a cig, whatever your brand of naughty may be. On sale for $29.99 from $50.

Bold urban sophisticate:
This strapless jersey dress from Susan Monaco with banding and a ruched empire waist provides a great palette which you can project your mood du jour to the world via shoes and accessories. A wacky heel, jaunty hat or classic choker will instantly change the personality of this simple classic black dress. Wear it to weddings, funerals, bar crawls and BBQs. The pouch pockets will let you slump, slink or sizzle--depending on the venue, and of course, your mood. $159.


In Fashion: Flower Power

Posted at 5:00 AM Aug 14, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Summers a wiltin' so now's the time to go out in one last brilliant whirl of color and style. Generally when I think of clothes + flowers I think: Laura Ashley or bad hippie gear.

Then I lie down until the nausea subsides.

But looking around the trendy little side streets of Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, riding the subways and boozing in bars this month I've been newly inspired by the Power of Flower. Fresh, eye-catching, sassy and fun, be-flowered gear has found a new fan.

Here are some of my favorite takes on the look:

Kick up those daises:

Purple suede and (imitation) python-leather, high-heeled SM Luxe sandals with giant flowers affixed to a T-strap? Yes, please! Also available in black and taupe if you insist on being somewhat practical. On sale for $69.95 from DSW.

A wearable bouquet:

The model (pictured above) looks as dangerously excited as I was when I stumbled across this dress. Girlfriend is getting her floral on with the chiffon cami spaghetti-strap dress to end all chiffon cami spaghetti-strap dresses. It has front sheering and a racerback detail in the back and is the reason that adjectives like "kicky" were invented. Oh, and it's lined. Always key. $39.50 from Delia's.

It's a cinch:

This flower stretch belt from Arden B is perfect for all of the floral-agnostics/committed head-to-toe black bedecked ladies out there. It's simple, black as death, three-inches wide with an elegant black flower closure. It would be perfect over a mini-dress or a floor-dragger. $24.

Green thumb (or pinky):

I heart this hand-painted sunflower ring from Etsy.com BIG TIME. At only $8 it's  total score - and it truly is unique, featuring a small black wooden circle with the edge of a bright yellow sunflower blooming up from the bottom.

We'll come up roses yet! (Ba-doom-boom. Ching.)

In Fashion: Pearls! Yes. Pearls!

Posted at 5:00 AM Aug 07, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Pearls. There's something about the stone that seems so schoolmarmish, so 1950's repression. So pre-women's-lib. Ladies who sport pearl necklaces (insert gross joke involving bodily fluids here) seem to ooze sexual ... inhibition.

That is, until Michelle Obama started wearing them everywhere, evoking Jackie O's trademark Camelot Fantasia, sans the prim pout and the rigidly locked kneecaps. The current First Lady is so smiley, loose-limbed and apparently at ease with herself--and the sexual tension between her and her husband is still somehow sizzling--you just know she's a dynamo in bed (and yes, I realize that's a wildly inappropriate thing to say about the First Lady, but it's not like the thought hasn't crossed your mind too, Suzy Q).

Imagine. In addition to shattering the whole color-barrier thing, the Obama's made the most virginal stone on earth seem downright risqué.

Here are some of my favorite sassy pearl accouterments:

Punk Rock Meets Princess and They Make Sweet Love

This is definitely a necklace ($49.30) Madonna would have worn in the 80's. The ornate silver double stranded crystal/glass pearl necklace from White House / Black Market features several clusters of jingly-jangly crystals and faux pearls, culminating in one large center crystal and pearl teardrop arrangement is luxe, fun and sprightly. Just like Madonna was. In the 80's.

Fortune Teller Meets Bank Teller

Equally appropriate ear-wear for gazing into a crystal ball or at a computer screen all day, these gold-toned and tiny faux pearl beaded hoop danglers look way more expensive than they are ($4.80!) Thank the sweet higher being of your choice for Forever 21, without which I'd be naked and unaccessorized.

Classic Tiered Pearl Necklace (top included!)

This Alice + Olivia number (pictured above) ain't cheap ($198) and is only for the teeny-weeny (current sizes available are in the waif-only zone of XS and S) but is still adorable and naughty enough to merit inclusion in this round-up. It's the perfect marriage of laid-back style with the ruched jersey scoop neck, the raglan sleeves and the tiered faux-pearl necklace - that's totally detachable, a great option because it would also look grand over a simple black tank, a classic cocktail dress or all by its sweet self.


In Fashion: Clodhoppers

Posted at 6:24 AM Jul 31, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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I've been living in denial, but I can no longer evade the ugly truth: clodhoppers are back and it looks like they're here to stay. Don't get me wrong. I used to be all about the clodhoppers. I had four pairs of Doc Martens in the 90's in which I'd clomp gracelessly about, creating clouds of detritus and dust, scaring the elderly and unsettling small families of rodents whenever I set my large and unattractive hoof on the pavement.

And I'm sure I'll end up strapping on a pair of hideous wafflestompers, eager to cover up my unmanicured toenails and unmanageable calluses, if not dutifully drink the fashion Kool-Aid. Once I accepted this inevitability, I started poking around the haute and low versions of the style ... and actually found some that didn't make me pine for the halcyon days and nights I spent tottering ineffectually about in four inch spike heels shortly after the last clod-craze.     

Though the chunky-monkey heels and superfluous bells and whistles found on these aesthetic wonders do take a little getting used to, I found several card-worthy purchases on the World Wide Web.

For the strap-happy:

These tall peep-toe boots--the shoe's one curtsy short of cute--from Sweet Life by Dolce Vita (pictured above) have enough straps and buckles to keep an S&M mistress occupied for hours. They feature 3-inch super-wide heels and 6-inch boot shafts. And for all of you vegans out there, they're made of polyurethane and rubber. They're like wearing a naughty yet comfortable spanking delivered by a doe-eyed lover! $98 from Urban Outfitters.

Do you like studs?

You're in luck. Endless has so-called "cool mules" that not only look sturdy and comfortable enough to get a diner waitress suffering from edema and chronic corns through triple shifts of flipping four-tops filled with surly teenagers, they sport flashy, kicky stud accents along the leather upper tops. These shoes had me at a clod-hop with their enviable balance of fun and user-friendliness. It's like an Apple computer for your achin' feet. $98 from Endless.

A refined clomp:

I love ModCloth's clomps because they're unexpectedly restrained, yet still total fun-filled, hefty clod-a-rama. They're your basic Oxfords, except not lame. Made from elegantly stitched together soft black and gray leather, they feature strange architectural cutouts that would look simply divine over a pair of thick, patterned tights once fall rolls around. Kinda like a downtown Koolhaas loft for your feet. $84.99 from ModCloth.

In Fashion: Watching the Actual Clock

Posted at 5:00 AM Jul 24, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Can you recall those halcyon days when you didn't need to consult a device (aka your trusty Me!phone/Crackberry) outfitted with a computer that's bigger than the one used in Apollo 11 just to find out what time it was?

These strange, superannuated things known as "time pieces," or "watches," to the layperson, have gone the way of the 10-pound "portable" phone. It's time to bring them back, damn it! I'm sick of casting about my 12-gallon linen bag to figure out what friggin' time it is.

As luck would have it, there are several hot new watches on the market - and a burgeoning movement to bring this simple, fun and, yes, officially retro, accessory back.

My favorites:

Old School Meets New Cool:

This over-sized watch face (pictured above) with a slim, ladylike snake-skin strap is perfect for the on-the-go funster with downtown style and arty sensibilities. The face of the watch is dominated by psychedelic Dali-esque gold numbers, but the conservative, vaguely spinsterish strap brings it back to terra firma. $24 at Urban Outfitters.

Sex Pistols Meet Pez:

Fun, funky and Pepto-pink with a bubble-gum dash of danger, this Normal Watch is the apotheosis of the kind of Joan Jett and the Heartbreakers/The Donna's silliness/faux socio-political commentary (the watchface reads: "I WANT CANDY," the innocuous desire resting coolly on the barrel of a large black gun) that I seek out when strapping plastic things to my wrists. $19.99 on Amazon.

Swatches for the New Millenium:

Ah, Swatches. Those were the days. The Toy Watch Jelly Collection brings the fun back with a plasteramic face secured with a matching silicone strap. The faces are removable and interchangeable. Just think of the wacky color-combo possibilities! Create your own here. Warning: the creativity, at $175, doesn't come cheap.


In Fashion: Lingerie as Outerwear

Posted at 5:00 AM Jul 17, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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It's official: underwear as outerwear is back. But this time (unlike the cone-bra craze inspired by Madge or the Hanes-hangin'-over-the-back-o'-the-pants inspired by Marky Mark and Kate Moss) the look, when executed correctly, can be girly with the right dose of grit. And, of course, sexy.

The first sign of the incipient trend was John Galliano's Autumn/Winter 2009-2010 haute couture line for Christian Dior, which churned out whimsical, gossamer, sheer creations reminiscent of both 1940s undergarments and the over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek fashion fun of the '80s. (Check out the pretty here). Lilly Allen quickly picked up the trend, debuting a perhaps too-literal translation of the look at a recent show in London, leaving little to the imagination (nips included!) in a transparent teddy.

Luckily, if lingerie is your thang, there's no reason you have to let it all hang out. Here are some fabulous options for lingerie's ladylike comeback that won't guarantee a night in the clink and an early wake-up call in front of a judge for a pesky indecent exposure rap.

The corset shirt:

Every doll should have one of these in her closet, no matter what aesthetic weather the fashion gods are forecasting. It can be worn alone, under a jaunty summer wrap, paired with beat-up jeans or a svelte knee-skimming skirt a la Posh Spice. This one, (pictured above) rose colored, demurely tailored and ruched is equal parts Victorian maiden and 21st Century seductress. $24.99, Charlotte Russe.

The corset dress:

This Arden B number is smoking, ballsy sultriness incarnate. Perfect for the third date (heh heh heh), it's fitted with a low-cut sweetheart neckline and a slightly padded bust over wires (no need for a bra, yeehaw!), and sassy seaming details down the side and zipping up the front of the very short (35" from the shoulder) dress. The back is classic corset style with larger-than-life rivets, a slit and, natch, satin ribbons. $68.

The peekaboo slip:

My favorite take on the lingerie as outerwear trend is decidedly minimalist, but there is something undeniably sensual about wearing a slip and allowing it to occasionally peek out of a carefully chosen skirt or dress. Just the slightest outward hint of smooth satin and rumpled lace combined with my ever-present knowledge of its presence does more to perk up my inner sex goddess than a closet full of cone bras and garter belts. I love this slip by Farr West because it does double duty: if I want to play peekaboo up top, the lace-trimmed v-neck delivers as well. $58.

In Fashion: Paris' Best (and Worst) Fashions Du Jour

Posted at 5:00 AM Jul 10, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

So, you think Billyburg and L.A. hipsters look aesthetically challenged when they hit the town in their "creations?" Let's turn to the city in which idiot artist chic was born. Oui oui, gay, c'est la vie Paris. (Pronounced PAIR-eeee!) I recently hit the town and was surprised by some of the trends I found on the street.


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Bell-bottoms' rumored comeback may not signal the end to chic:

I found this architecture student gamely sashaying through Belleville, a neighborhood bursting with Asian food delights and bustling with students and artists. She told me that she believes that "fashion and style should be a direct reflection of how you spend your time. I study architecture, so naturally, I focus on linear shapes, interesting accessories - I love buttons and graphic jewelry! - and unexpected layers."

My takeaway: Maybe it will be okay if bell-bottoms come back into fashion (for the third time this decade). This chick manages to pull off the look without looking like she's about to whip our her gee-tarr and give us a throaty rendition of "Diamonds and Rust." In fact, she looks downright ... modern. I love the layers, the fearlessly short hair (another fierce trend Parisian women were sporting with panache). Ring your own bell with Lucky Brand's Zoe Jeans (They're 50% off right now -- $80.)
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Sexy "ethnic" sundresses:
Whenever the adjective "ethnic" is thrown about in fashion magazines, my eyes generally glaze over as I try to block out the hideous recollections my many misguided attempts in college to sport the "ethnic" look without looking like a fool. If only I'd thought of throwing a bit of low-cut sex appeal, flowing tailoring (and been able to strut magnificently down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées), I may have actually managed to not resemble a lumpy sack of potatoes.  

My takeaway: the key to wearing funky, colorful prints is all in the cut and the accessories. Strappy sandals and a jaunty handbag do wonders for her overall look as does the sexy cleavage baring cut and toe-skimming length. Check out Urban Renewal's take on the look. $48.

After the jump, a Parisian look that is just tres, tres wrong ...

Read more In Fashion: Paris'... >>

In Fashion: How 'Bout It, Stud?

Posted at 5:11 AM Jul 03, 2009

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By Kathleen Willcox

Studs - horse, man or accessory, I love 'em all. Bestud my heart. And since studded clothes and accessories are much easier to keep in line, I tend to favor them over the equine and male varieties. I also love that studs are a completely versatile accessory - they can be totally punk rock or totally uptown chic.

My favorites right now:

These shoes were made for struttin':

These Steve Maddens (pictured) constitute a summer 2009 trend triple threat: studs, sky high 4.5' heels with a gladiator-style straptastic cut. Every available inch of strappy black leather is bestudded - including a built-in ankle bracelet. (Totally Blondie!) Perfect for stalking the town, clubs and coolest shows well into the wee hours of the morning. $129.95.

This shirt was made for prancin':

This cheapo ($22.99) studded mesh tank from Charlotte Russe is a major score - and not just for it's bargain basement price. It's sexy, chic, edgy and made with schvitz-friendly mesh (I can feel the breeze now). The wide straps, scoop neck, pleated and roomy cut will hide a multitude of sins, so this is definitely the shirt to strap on if you're getting ready for a gut-busting BBQ bash which your crush du jour just happens to be hosting. (Or for a waddle out to brunch for a gut-busting grease-soaked plate of sausage and biscuits the morning after a particularly late night). Or - if you happen to be classier and more mature than I and no longer participate in such revelries, it's great when you have PMS and you're totally bloated. So there!

This belt was made for flouncin':

Ah, the truly sophistocated take on the studded trend, courtesy of none other than prepster-chic extraordinaire Michael Kors. Available in black, or the more staid uptown brown, the belt sports layered, studded panels of nubby leather. A beautiful 4' hammered-brass buckle pulls the whole shebang together. $98.

A bangle made for janglin':

This $4(!) bracelet, again from Charlotte Russe, is by far the easiest, least risky and cheapest way to cash on the stud thang. It features studs made from black plastic in the shapes of pyramids. The only drawback is that it's mounted on elastic strands, so tread carefully when janglin'.

In Fashion: Beach Cover-Ups

Posted at 5:00 AM Jun 26, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Ah, the beach. Sun, surf, besties and if you're lucky - beer. What's not to love?

If you're anything like me, the raging case of lobster face and blister butt I invariably get, no matter how much SPF I liberally lather on my pasty carcass. And even if you're a blessed bronzed goddess (bitch!) the pockmarked ozone layer presents a cover-up challenge for your honey-hued heinie too.

But a challenge that can and shall be met with style, grace and wit. I've scoured the internetz far and wide and found the funkiest burn-busters around:

The hat:

Okay, so the first thing you think of when hitting the beach generally isn't, "Where's my damn cowboy hat? Where did I put that thing?" But this crochet cowboy number from Topshop is an irresistibly witty take on the been-there-done-that, looks-like-I-borrowed-it-from-Grandma straw hat. $40.

The shades:

Much like the Olsen Twins, I've always been a big fan of sunglasses that make me appear to be a cross between a large and unattractive insect and a space alien. Join me in my insane quest to sheath my entire face in unattractive dark orbs, won't you? These aptly named Tribeca Sunglasses from Urban Outfitters just about cover me from mid-forehead to the bottom of my cheekbones. $18. But on days when I'm feeling especially Grey Gardens, they're not quite crazy cat lady enough for me. That's when I reach for my hot pink Swan Lake Sunglasses, a move I'm sure Little Edie would approve of. Also $18.

The offbeat suit cover-up:

Nothing says "beach babe" like giant leopard print cover-up, am I right? Slap on this cool, sun-friendly baby blue animal skin over your bikini or onesie and make like Fred Flinstone under an umbrella. $105.

The umbrella:

Speaking of umbrellas, it's tough to find one that doesn't seem too family picnic. So why not embrace the insanity and snag The Americana - you guessed it, a giant 6 1/2' wide American flag umbrella with 3-way tilt. It only weighs 4 ½ pounds, it's less than $20 and you'll always - ALWAYS - be able to find your spot in the sun.

In Fashion: Sequined Sass

Posted at 5:05 AM Jun 19, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Have you heard? Sequins are back with a vengeance - but instead of ignoring the trend completely in disgust, or conversely, whipping out the Bedazzler and besequining your entire wardrobe, let's establish a ground rule. Let's all agree that only pop divas over the age of 60 (Liza, Babs, Bette, Tina, Aretha) or rich Upper East Siders can - or should attempt - to get away with head-to-toe glitter, despite what Leigh Lezark may tell you. My favorite thing about this trend is with the sequins doing the shining, there's no need to put a lot of (read: any) effort into eye makeup, hairstyles or jewelry. Score!

With that in mind, I have found the cutest glitterized gear around - and even an updated Bedazzler for all of you crafty Dolls.

A beaded headwrap:

This beaded appliqué stretchy headband could also double as a belt around a simple black dress. It's simple, classic and elegant - and would look equally chic in a cocktail lounge or a grungy down-home bar. (Pictured above). $24.

The quirky sequin surprise:

I'm in love with this sequined bateau tunic - it's totally quirky, weird and memorable without being scary disco diva. With a boat-neck, a gathered elastic waist, a ruffle side trim and a back keyhole, this is a shirt you'll wear for years - and you'll have to, to rationalize the $168 price tag. It looks adorable and casual over black leggings and heart-stoppingly sexy paired with a simple pair of blue jeans and flats.

The classic sequin skirt:

There's no better way to celebrate sequins' comeback than by slinking on a flirty sequin miniskirt - in solid black, blue, pink or white from Bebe. I love this one in particular because it's reasonably priced ($59), the oblong sequin detailing is surprisingly intricate and delicate and the fact that it comes in solid colors instead of a jumble of hues makes the look classic, not tarty. (Always a risk when one throws on a sequin mini skirt! Pair it with a simple top and flats to stray safely away from the Britney Spears on purple drank look.)

The original Bedazzler:

I've always been a sucker for the classics - and sometimes a gal just has to whip out a sparkle gun and show that Plain Jane tank top who's boss. That's when it's time for the Bedazzler. $22.99.

An "embellishing" guide:

If you're too cool to bedazzle your shizz, Kayte Terry, a fashion expert and professional crafter, has just published a haute little guide for your chic self. It explains how to "embellish" everything - from clothes to glassware to chandeliers - for even the most clueless neophyte. Complete Embellishing: Techniques and Projects gives step-by-step instructions for 25 lucidly explained projects. $16.47.

In Fashion: Save Your Soles

Posted at 5:00 AM Jun 12, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Flip the flops this summer and get ready to strap something to your soles that doesn't involve undue amounts of rubber, unattractive slappy sounds when you prance gloriously about -- and the same boring crap every other chic on your block is wearing.

If there's ever a season to bust out your inner personality disorder and throw sartorial caution to the wind, summer's it. So what will it be? With so many wallet-friendly options, there's no reason to limit yourself to just one.

For your inner Gossip Girl:

If the idea of flouncing around Gilt, slapping your girlfriends and wearing giant sequined headbands everywhere doesn't appeal, but you'd still like to dip your toe into the shark-infested trendster waters they inhabit, compromise with this upscale-boho Serena van der Woodsen pair of trotters from Mossimo. Flat, with a burnt sienna hue, just a hint of the gladiator, two Lilliputian ankle straps and a be-studded T-strap that snakes elegantly up the foot, the better to kick Blair Waldorf with, it can't be beat. $24.99 at Target.

For your inner 21st century, slightly swinging Jane Austen:

Ruffled T-platform 4-inch heels in grey patent faux leather (they're vegan friendly!), an open toe and a diminutive gold buckle. You'll be able to bury your pretty little nose in George Gissing's The Odd Women as you sip surreptitiously from snifter full of brandy, fluff your petticoats and give John Willoughby over there in the corner the hairy eyeball. $39.50 at Lulus.com.

For your inner whiptress:

Okay, so you don't have the stomach (or the bank account) to invest in building a dungeon to punish naughty boys and/or girls at home ... but occasionally, you like to show em who's boss. Instill fear with the merest shake of your cute (but fearsome!) gold chain-encrusted, jangling foot. The best part: they're flats so you can chase em if they try to get away! Check out Madison Harding's Stanton at $143.

For your inner fuddy-duddy:

We all have one. (Mine makes me duct-tape the holes in my luggage so the banged up, sad-sack cases are as "good as new!") Admit, you miss your topsiders with those neat-o barrel laces. And it's okay! Really. The first step toward healing and recovery from such a shameful shoe addiction is acceptance. So roll with it, chica - in these neon topsiders, courtesy of Sperry's, you won't look like a (total) lame-ass. (You can always say you're rocking the whole 80's retro thing if backed into a corner and questioned closely by concerned friends). The downside: you have to tie the laces into those jaunty little corkscrews yourself. $80 in hot pink, blue and yellow.

Your (hopefully not-so inner) funster:

Cute, comfortable and cheap, these brightly hued jelly gladiators are as at home in the hot cement jungle of Manhattan as they are three-feet deep in the water of Palm Beach as you madly try to escape the fam at your annual summer Florida vacay fest. $20 at topshop.

Your inner crazy lady:

Holla! You know she's lurking inside, just screaming to get out and have some fun ... Invoke her with these truly insane, aptly named Holler-High Leg Tie Sandals. Madness incarnate, these zebra-stripped delicacies snake up your calf, threatening to engulf it in a cotton tornado of joyfully tied, strangely frilly, totally organized chaos of straps, bows and casual knots. They must be seen to be believed, worn with panache and twirled about in judiciously. If you don't enjoy twirling about, these aren't for you. $40.

In Fashion: Taking the Plunge

Posted at 5:00 AM Jun 05, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Are we ready to dive into the jumpsuit trend, Dolls? Before you run screaming from the computer, consider this: much like the beloved summer sundress, these puppies are a strapped-for-time but trendy, fun and eminently accessorize-able one-stop-shop outfitting resource. Bonus: your mom won't freak out and give you the crazy bug eyes/twitchy mouth grimace if she's across from you and you happen to not be exactly "sitting like the lady [she] raised you to be."

Also, strapping on a jumpsuit is kind of like Halloween. You're you, except better: You possess construction worker superpowers! Just today, my brand spanking new jumpsuit inspired me to complete all kinds of home projects, including, but not limited to, caulking bathroom tiles and sanding down a chair I found on the side of the road three months ago. Ever since, it's been gathering dust next to the radiator in my living room (which needs a new coat of paint. Next time).

Oh, and if you're feeling particularly naughty and construction worker-esque you can strut about town issuing catcalls whenever you deem it necessary and/or appropriate. Just don't do it if your mom's around. This would also be behavior she considers "unbecoming."

The best part about the jumpsuit thang, is that now that they've been runway-tested and Vogue-approved, there are a bevy of options that don't involve dusting off your Sears Roebeck card (unless you need to buy construction supplies!) or strapping yourself in brightly hued terry cloth.

For the jumpsuit-averse but comfort-favoring:

The Kimono Split Sleeve Jumpsuit is the answer to your urgent sartorial prayers. It doesn't look like a jumpsuit, but it bears all of its important hallmarks. It's also stretchy, with a shirred, gathered waistline, a super-deep V that could be made office-friendly with a simple black tank under it or made seductress-friendly with sky-high strappy heels, a simple clutch and a pair of sparkly danglies. Arden B is shelling it out for 58 clams, the cheapest awesome item I've seen on their site in eons!

For the tentative, but vaguely nervous jumpsuit-fan:

The Smocked Bust Jumpsuit from Forever 21 is great for all of you fence-straddlers. With adjustable spaghetti straps, an elastic bust and an elasticized ankle cuff, you'll look like the arty and philosophical gal you raised yourself to be (strap a monster belt around your waist, throw on some chunky bangles and a pair of ballet flats and you'll look like you just strutted off of Tracy Reese's runway). At $28.90, your bank balance will also be safely straddling the line between black and red.

For the fearless:

I've stayed mum on the whole poopy-pants phenomenon also known as the "harem look." And I'm going to remain so, because every time I declare a trend to be truly and totally butt-fugly, approx 2.2 seconds later I see a girl walking down the street sporting the oh-so-recently hated item looking like a big pile of fancy, and making me green with envy at her sassiness and unable to run out and copy it myself because of the aforementioned butt-fugly declaration. So, with that in mind, here is the penultimate jumpsuit/harem look: and it's not for the timid. The strapless, jersey jumpsuit from Free People practically shrieks "look at me, I'm hotter and hipper than you'll ever be, bitches!" Pair it some high heel gladiators and you will be a walking, talking trendlet. $78.

For the fearless and rich:
This jumpsuit (also jersey, also harem style and pictured above) sports a deep crossover V and a metallic leather belt. It's ruched at the shoulders, has short dolman sleeves and deep pockets. You better too - Cynthia Vincent ain't cheap at $279, but she sure knows how to make it all purty.

In Fashion: Give Em the Cold Shoulder

Posted at 5:00 AM May 29, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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Take it from me: nothing puts them in the mood like giving em the ol' cold shoulder. There's something about the (currently ubiquitous) one-strap dress that's inimitably sexy; especially when the shoulder is the main attraction, though with shorter dresses and even bathing suits, it adds an unexpected Greek Goddess sizzle that says "Summer 2009."

So much of fashion is centered on the various degrees to which one chooses to expose one's stems or bust - it seems we've forgotten the unique pleasure of the more enigmatic forms of seduction. (And it doesn't take a rocket scientist - or a fashion writer - to tell you what every Doll already knows: everyone loves a little mystery). In the spirit of subtlety, it's time to embrace the (partially) shoulderless look.

When you think American Apparel, sweet and innocent doesn't exactly spring to mind. But this dress is the exception. The knee-length, asymmetrical solo-shouldered top and draped skirt is simple, chic and super-comfortable (for your wallet too! It's only $42).

This dress is pert, sassy and totally demure. The ankle-length LNA black dress would probably pass muster at your average Quaker gathering, but the jersey fabric and ruched top would gain you admittance to any Ibiza nightclub (because, like me, I'm sure you're totally hitting Ibiza this summer, OMG!) It's on sale for $154, making it an investment, but a worthy one.

And speaking of investments ... this dreamy white Marchesa number is ridiculously out of reach at $990, but check it out anyway - especially if you're in the market for a wedding dress ... one that huskily whispers, instead of hysterically screams, "sexy."

In Fashion: Bag It, Ladies

Posted at 5:00 AM May 22, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

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It Bags are so 2006; so Mary-Kate and Ashley.

Once the height of louche sleekness, they now feel like gauche, over, passé, disgusting displays of conspicuous consumption that (if you happen to have one lying around) must be carefully wrapped up in the logo-strew soft bag weaved from octopi testicles in which it came and stowed under your bed right next to your "ironic" neon orange and yellow-striped leg warmers until the fiscal gods are smiling more kindly upon our nation, swine flu is officially in retreat and fashion designers are no longer considering teaming up with that crazy person who sells tinker toys on Broadway and 34th Street to push their latest line of "cheap yet chic" handbags.

But what's a Doll to throw her crap in? I've been hauling around some butt-ugly, busted fabric puppies that double as grocery shopping bags, which is handy and green, but when I'm getting ready for a night on the town, a day at the beach or a marathon session of art gallery and coffee-shop hopping, I need something that isn't caked in subway grime and doggie park detritus.

Luckily, there are tons of fun, durable, supercute alternatives out there - some you'll find in the usual places. But, with a little detective work, I discovered a bevy of cheap bags raining down like manna from heaven in weird little online junctions I'd never heard of before.

Join me in drooling over the treasure trove of options:

Classic, feminine, edgy: the Audrey Tautou of purses:
This black, cotton denim shoulder bag (fully lined and padded) has three separate internal compartments and two small little spaces, perfect for the organizationally challenged (moi). It also sports a heinous-sounding but totally dreamy large gray denim bow at the tippy top of the bag, right under the strap that can be retied, if you insist - but the slouchy ruched effect it creates is casual and elegant and would be difficult to improve upon. $48 at Etsy.

Quirky, big, graphic fun:
A big canvas carryall that isn't totally repellent or irritatingly shabby "I'm a green goddess and you're not, btw, do you like my Che Guevara t-shirt?" chic: unlike the G-spot, it exists! And at $14 it's cheaper than the fugly/revolutionary poseur numbers. It's available in orange, green, blue and yellow and sports a huge star in the middle (go Texas!). Grab it at Angiehearts.net - I'd never heard of the site, but it's chock full of major fashion cuteness at majorly cut-rate prices.

Loud, magenta, practical, now:
This satchel is a perfect morning-to-night on-the-go bag that will pair with anything from a bikini to a flirty summer dress. It's made from scrunchy nylon, is available in black, magenta, cerulean blue and white, has brass buckles and hardware and sports both a shoulder strap and a braided handle. It's on sale for $19 at Newport News and it looks way more upscale than its price of admission suggests. I always avoided NN, but this bag has turned me into a reluctant convert.

Offbeat, urban, expensive:

Kim White specializes in handbags made from vintage (unused!) automotive fabrics - and while most of her wares are out of my range, this one caught my eye. Who could resist a cherry red clutch made from fabric intended for a 1983 Camaro that springs open (tres reminiscent of old, sporty car doors) and clamps closed using a frame mechanism? The bad news: it's still pricey at $225.

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