Month: November 2010

Love, love, love

While I’ve been pretty good lately about controlling my shopaholic tendencies, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been eyeing the latest magazines, mentally composing a dream shopping list. To borrow a familiar trope – I’m on a budget, not blind.

I’ve been obsessed with agate jewelry for a while (with no luck in finding something nice) and then I saw the geode pieces made by Kimberly McDonald – stunning!! I saw these earrings in InStyle and I was almost ready to bust out my credit card … $500+ price tag or not. It’s probably a good thing I have no idea where I could find them locally.

And there was also this ring …

… which reminds me of a Dior ring I fell in love with eons ago:

Turning to the realm of the possible, I’ve just bought a pair of wine coloured tights. Not red, not purple – but a little bit of both.  I’m dying to wear them with these beauties.

These Nine West oxford-inspired booties are to die-for … too bad I haven’t seen this particular colour pop up in the local store yet. I’m keeping an eye out … and toying with the idea of checking out Zappos. If anyone has had any experiences shopping through them, let me know how it went. The good thing is that I’ve tried on the shoes, so I know which size to go for. 

Another thing I’m hoping to get a chance to try is Chanel’s new limited edition nail polish, Riva. Inspired by the French Riviera (and, I believe, Chanel’s last resort collection), it’s a beautiful pale blue. I usually stick to tried-and-true reds and pinks for my nails, but I’m willing to make an exception for this:

Unfortunately, the buzz is that the shade will only be available at Chanel boutiques, which are in short supply on the prairies. I know there is an in-store one at the Calgary Holt Renfrew, but I’m not sure if they get the same treatment as stand-alone boutiques. This may be one occasion when I have to rely on my Vancouver peeps to help me get hooked up.

Of course, with Christmas only 6 weeks away, I’m going to have to start thinking about my annual “wish list” – a slightly more pragmatic exercise. Will sense win out over style sensibility? We’ll see. What’s on your Christmas wish list?

A girl and a closet: Geeta

Geeta grew up in Toronto and moved to Edmonton about a decade ago. She currently works in an academic environment, and is also a part-time student. Her hobbies include jewelry design, writing, biking, painting, traveling and cooking. [I got to experience her cooking first hand, and can attest that she has honed her skills very well.] By her own  description, her style is “baggy” – which, as it turns out, is something of an understatement. But more on that later. Geeta loves clothes swaps and shopping at Goodwill, which makes her feel good about the environmental footprint of her wardrobe choices. She also likes to shop at Nokomis and Frog Kisser’s Den for unique pieces, and Eddie Bauer and The Bay for staples.
Geeta’s main goal for our session was to find ways to inject a bit of grown-up style into her work wear. As I quickly discovered, Geeta has a tendency to buy clothes that are one or two sizes too big for her petite frame. This, combined with her love of flats (she has one pair that she wears almost every day), contrive to make her appear like a younger and less professional version than the person her resume might suggest. Although she works in a fairly casual environment, Geeta is ready to bring a bit more polish to her everyday looks. 
Our biggest challenge in accomplishing her goal was her  minimalist wardrobe, which consists of only a couple of dozen pieces. Yes, you read that right. For example, Geeta has two cardigans (if you don’t count the one that she picked up after her grandmother discarded it – and I don’t), and no jackets. Nonetheless, I was determined to show her that she didn’t necessarily need a lot of extra pieces to add a bit of polish and pizazz to her outfits. In fact, all I used were 3 belts and 3 necklaces of my own, in addition to the pieces that Geeta already had. Ready to see the results?
This would be a fairly typical office outfit for Geeta. It’s pretty casual, and not particularly polished.


With the simple addition of a belt and a bright-coloured necklace, what a difference!

Here is another version of Geeta’s typical look. The polka-dot print of the cardigan is super cute, but the outfit as a whole doesn’t really feel “finished”. This might work for Geeta’s life as a graduate student, but not so much her professional life.

Here, again, all we added was a belt and a necklace; suddenly, the vibe is very different.

The same pieces also work with jeans; pearls help to balance out the casual jeans, keeping the look office-appropriate.
Geeta is really fond of long, hip-grazing tops, which can be a little bit overwhelming for petite figures. Still, she doesn’t need to take scissors to her favourite pieces – a belt can be an easy fix, helping to draw the eye upwards, emphasize the waist, and create the illusion of more height.

Of course, another solution is to tuck in a long top. A high-waisted skirt makes one’s legs look miles long – whether or not they really are. Just make sure that the waist line doesn’t get too close to the cleavage; you don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about where your boobs sit in relation to your waist. 

This is also further proof that red is the perfect accent colour, especially for a simple black and grey palette. It adds just the right amount of understated sophistication.

If you weren’t already convinced about the transformative power of belts, here are a few quick takes that will hopefully make you a convert. Below, all we did was add a belt to each of Geeta’s three outfits. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

A braided belt is a perfect choice for a casual outfit (and works really well with hippie/boho styles).

A red patent leather belt is a key piece for a sophisticated wardrobe.

The braided belt – redux.

Got a style question? Want your own style session or shopping trip with me? Contact me at bluecollarredlipstick@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Friday wrap up

Edmonton got lucky this year with its own version of an extended fall – above-zero temperatures in the first weeks of November. I’ve been enjoying it as much as possible, getting the most out of my transitional wardrobe before it’s time to put it away. Hence, this been my off-duty “uniform” for the last couple of weekends:
Pants, Banana Republic; jacket, Marc by Marc Jacobs;
turtleneck, Winners; booties, Nine West
By layering a tank top underneath the turtleneck, I was able to get away with wearing the relatively light jacket and feeling like it was September all over again. Booties and cropped pants are somewhat of a risk, but I think the combination works with the edgier vibe of the outfit as a whole. And the credit for that goes to the funky, asymmetrical jacket – what else can make  pair of pink pants look edgy?