Breaking news: no sleeves!

Today Show's Anchor, Natalie Morales

Today Show’s Anchor, Natalie Morales

Have you turned on the news lately? Anchor women are going sleeveless and everywhere you turn, you find this new uniform; sleeveless blouses/dresses and exposed arms – even in the cold winter months. I’m wondering … who sent these women the memo?? Could it be a response to our First Lady’s penchant for sleeveless dresses? My mother, Claire, and my neighbor, Jean, first brought this phenomenon to my attention. Initially, I noticed just a handful of participants, but now I see that among the younger news women the trend is spreading. Everyone is dressing this way; local newscasters to more well-known names, like NBC’s Natalie Morales and ABC’s Katie Couric.

Should we be reading into this? Is it just a passing fancy or simply a passing thought? Do we care?

What do we think?

Farnoosh’s sister

Farnoosh's sister Fara

Farnoosh’s sister Fara

Do you remember Farnoosh? She moved to The United States from Iran ten years ago with her parents and two older sisters. We spoke about how difficult the move and transition was for her at the tender pre-teen age of twelve, about how Farnoosh views fashion, and about the need for us to express ourselves, no matter what our circumstance; even when restrictions are placed upon us and our expression comes in the form of colorful fashion accessories, as in the case of Farnoosh’s female cousin, who lives in a modern-day Iran.

I spent the last morning of 2012 having a cup of coffee with Farnoosh and her oldest sister, Fara (her middle sister, Farnaz, lives in San Diego). Fara is 29 and is living in Chicago as she pursues her Master’s Degree in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Like her sister, Fara is lovely and creative and full of energy. She has her own story and relationship with fashion. Here is Fara …

When we left Iran I was nineteen. It took me a while to get comfortable, but I was open to the move. I had already graduated from high school in Iran and had an idea that I wanted to be an artist. I stayed local when I first arrived, and for the first year and a half learned English as a second language at Seton Hall University. Immediately I knew that the school was too small for me and that I needed more. I was drawn to New York City and left Seton Hall for New York, where I attended NYIT, the New York Institute of Technology, and graduated with a degree in architecture …

I’m a city person and from the minute I came to New York I was happy. I loved the energy and the diversity and how people in NY are original, especially in the way they think and dress. My favorite thing to do became walking: I would walk everywhere! I was inspired by the streets and the windows. That might be why I dislike shopping in malls where everything is so generic and everyone looks the same. I can’t be linked to only one brand and one designer, head-to-toe. I like variety and dressing high and low. That is why I am a fan of H&M …

I would describe my look as chic enough but not too fancy. I enjoy mixing pieces and remaining eclectic. My passions remain shoes and handbags!” ~ Fara

Fara and Farnoosh have adopted their American life but also embrace their Iranian culture. We had an interesting conversation about what that means. I shared with them that I have Colombian blood and at one time I wasn’t comfortable embracing it, but as I get older, I understand that it is a major part of who I am and I treasure it. I guess that explains why I love Latin music and always want to start salsa dancing … even though I don’t know how!!

I hope I meet Farnoosh and Fara again soon – and meet their middle sister next – Farnaz!

What do you think?

Farnoosh and Fara

Fara with Farnoosh

Fara with me

Fara with me

Elle: Eating, styling, playing

Elle, styling in her Asos shimmer pencil skirt and Belle by Sigerson Morrison eskimo booties

Elle, styling in her shimmer pencil skirt by ASOS and her Eskimo Clog Booties by Belle/Sigerson Morrison

Elle writes a fashion and lifestyle blog (eatstyleplay.com): we enjoy reading some of the same fashion blogs and that is how I found her. She is in her 20s and lives in Washington, D.C. There is an ease and an openness to her writing. On the face of it, Elle’s story is very different from my own, and yet … is it really? Aren’t we all connected by fashion and life? Here is Elle …

What inspired you to start a blog? How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging on and off for about four years. I was first inspired because I needed an outlet, I loved fashion, and when I shopped I was told that I knew how to select and find unique items. I also spent a ton of time online searching for things that the stores didn’t carry. My blog was more of an inspirational fashion blog. Then I lost my job, and I started blogging about the food I was cooking, which became a big hit. I then started venturing out into my personal style and covering events around D.C. As I continue to search, I find more things that inspire me everyday.


Your blog is focused on lifestyle. Why are you inspired to write about both fashion and food?

Growing up my grandmother was always in the kitchen and she and I were joined at the hip until she passed away when I was about 14. I helped her, literally, from the time I was two years old. I love to cook and I hadn’t realized how much I cook for my family until my mom pointed out that I have a “gift” for seasoning. I have made my own season kits, jazzing up even the blandest of foods. I wanted to somehow let that shine in my blog. My girlfriends told me that they loved to see me write about the basics of cooking, so that’s what I’ve been doing, or at least trying to do.

In the past year I have been inspired to write more about fashion from a plus-size woman’s perspective. Finding hip and trendy clothing has been so hard. I would often notice that someone else was often wearing my outfit! I want to show women that it’s possible to find unique clothing and be just as trendy as so-called “regular” sized fashion bloggers. Like other plus-size bloggers, I want to know that there are choices out there for me. This year I have been focusing on my health, which may result in moving out of the plus-size range. But that will never stop me from wanting to help and inspire women.


You know about style and designers. What influences you when making a clothing purchase?

I’m influenced by classic pieces, and trendy styles. All of the clothing I wear must be flattering. If I feel like something is too tight, I pass on it because the clothing will become bothersome and give the impression that I don’t know what works for me. There are some things I simply can’t pull off. I am motivated to buy items that I know will last and transition well; I have some pieces that I can wear in all four seasons. I buy the highest quality when it comes to shoes, handbags, and jewelry. Mostly, I want to wear clothing that makes me feel great, and adds to my confidence.


Do you think fashion affects our self-esteem?

That’s a hard question for me. At one point I noticed that women who looked like me didn’t exist in the media. And there was nothing out there for us to wear and feel good about. But I do believe that selections today have improved and are making many women feel better about themselves. I know I’m excited and happy to see more fashion options available to me and to women like me. 

What is it like to be a 20-something living in Washington D.C? Is the style conservative?

I have a love/hate relationship with D.C. I grew up here, and D.C. is changing all the time. I don’t think that all of D.C. is so conservative. I think the Hill is conservative and with good reason, but once you explore different areas there is a wide variety of people from all walks of life. It’s not New York; not everyone is comfortable stepping outside of their creative box. There are still people who will judge those who are different. I love certain things about D.C., though. I love Eastern Market, U Street, the lounges, and the smaller circle of blog networks here. I know that I will eventually leave and explore elsewhere, but D.C. is my home.
Thank you, Elle, for this conversation. I am grateful to you. Maybe we can meet someday! Keep on styling! Check out Elle’s blog: www.eatstyleplay.com.

More sustainable fashion news …

Chris Yura, Founder and CEO of SustainUPhoto courtesy of SustainU

Chris Yura, Founder and CEO of SustainU
Photo courtesy of SustainU

Here is a fashion story with heart: Notre Dame football star and graduate becomes the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of a company that produces American-made, 100% recycled t-shirts. Chris Yura says that he “always felt called to think of ideas” and that the Notre Dame community encouraged him. He was speaking to Joan and Liz Hamburg on WOR Radio/NYC. Every Monday, Joan’s daughter, Liz, an entrepreneur herself, hosts a segment called Launchpad, where entrepreneurs discuss their ‘big ideas’ and business ventures.

Mr. Yura’s story fascinates me. After graduating from college, he was scouted to become a fashion model, and moved to New York City where he worked for Ford Models for five years. It was during that time that he started to understand how clothing is made and says that it was this information from “my years in fashion” that sparked his desire to create sustainable, American-made clothing. He researched the process and materials extensively, and eventually, his company, SustainU, was born.

Mr. Yura says that his clothing is not only good for the planet, but good for workers and for consumers. His tees are affordable and sell for approximately $20 retail. He also contends that if he stays true to his business model; that everything must be made in America, that all clothing must be made from 100% recycled materials (not simply partially-recycled materials), and that he manufacture in places where people need the work, SustainU will stay successful, even when up against its competitors. Anyone can order on-line at SustainUClothing.com, and in 2013 SustainU plans to be in NYC area retailers and throughout the United States. They are also planning to produce other types of clothing, including fleece and performance and children’s wear.

As a football player, Mr. Yura understood the importance of depending on his teammates. Similarly, he relies on his teammates at SustainU; they are a young and agile company and always open to new ways of manufacturing. “I’m at the tip of the iceberg now … I am starting to see what’s possible.” ~ Chris Yura

Good for you  – good for us! And thank you to NYC treasures Joan and Liz Hamburg for bringing Chris Yura’s story to our attention.

What do you think?

Lisa: A visionary

Lisa ImageAre we ready for warm weather already? Lisa Curran is the owner and creator of Lisa Curran Swim, founded in 1997. An entrepreneur in the truest sense with a passion for fashion to match, Lisa is always visualizing ten-steps ahead. Lisa was a young girl who practically lived in a swimsuit growing up on the beaches of Cape May, New Jersey, who later dreamed of making a difference as she would discover a void in the design of women’s swimwear.

I sat down with this extraordinary woman. Here is Lisa, in her own words:

I always loved fashion, since I was a little girl, but I was more interested in the artistic side of fashion. I’ve always been drawn to that, rather than owning something with a label …

I started as a student at FIT which was near the old Barney’s downtown (New York). On my lunch break, I loved checking out the windows at Barney’s. At that time, they featured small and up-and-coming designers …

It turns out that my first job was an assistant buyer for Barney’s. It was a special experience for me. Barney’s was still owned by the Pressman Family and there was an intimacy about it then; they were truly interested in promoting brands. After my time at Barney’s I became a buyer for Gucci, just six months after Rose Marie Bravo hired Tom Ford. It was an exciting time to be in fashion. I could easily have stayed there and I loved my job, and yet, I always wanted to do a swimwear line …

At that time, I was newly married and without children. I knew that this was my moment to make the leap: I couldn’t understand why the swimwear industry wouldn’t sell separate pieces, and I saw a huge void in the market. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and swimwear separates needed to reflect that. I left my secure position at Gucci and in 1997 I began Lisa Curran Swim. I soon discovered that my previous business experience helped me to better understand what to do and what not to do. I began by shipping to three-to-four stores, and soon caught the eye of Sports Illustrated and Elle Magazine. That is when my business started growing …

Today, I am a mother with three children. I have created two separate collections for Lisa Curran Swim: the world of bikini separates and one piece bathing suits for moms whose needs may be changing but still want to look and feel sexy. I have always used the highest quality fabrics and linings, and everything comes from Italy. No other swimsuit company is doing that. We also design our own prints. My customer knows what she is getting when she purchases a swimsuit from the Lisa Curran Swim collection …

I continue to push myself and strive for perfection in all that I do. I have a great team. It is a nice-size business and remains privately-owned. I love working and I always have my eye on the next challenge …” ~ Lisa Curran

We are so glad that you do, Lisa. On behalf of women everywhere, thank you for thinking of us when designing the one article of clothing that can make us feel the most vulnerable. We’re glad that the little girl on the beach grew up to see her dreams come true!

What do you think?

You can find LIsa Curran Swim at Bloomingdale’s and coming shortly to Everything But Water in Short Hills, New Jersey.

Lisa Curran Collection

Lisa Curran Collection

Lisa Curran Collection

Lisa Curran Collection

Lisa Curran Collection

Lisa Curran Collection

A match made in heaven …

P1030022Today, December 1st, marks the first day of a limited partnership between Target and Neiman Marcus. Items for sale are a selection of holiday-inspired gifts. Now I have been down this road with Target before: first, a year ago when the giant retail savings store partnered with Missoni and later, with Jason Wu. Although I did purchase items (I have some wonderful treats from the Missoni-for-Target pairing, including rain boots and shoes, and I also have a gray, lace tee from Jason Wu), both experiences took their toll and left me frustrated and disillusioned. The lines were long, the shoppers pushy, and the shelves for the most part, were empty. On-line shopping was not much more satisfying as items ran out quickly. This time, however, was different. I arrived in-store late morning to find the shelves still well-stocked and most items readily available on-line.

Why do I bother and why might you want to try it, too? Because I may never have the chance to afford some of these beautiful things any other way. I now own a Judith Leiber compact mirror with real, pink crystal stones. Hungarian-American born designer Judith Leiber is the quintessential artist; her luxury handbags are works of art. But they are also supremely expensive: this is my chance to have one of her jeweled pieces of my own! And I also bought a journal set from Carolina Herrera, because now I know her and I feel connected! I will be writing my blog notes in my Carolina Herrera journals. How wonderful is that?

Perhaps the third time is the charm. Perhaps Target is getting it right. I say, give it a try. Give something lovely and treasured to someone or better yet, save the gift for yourself.

What do you think?

Lezli’s thoughts on fashion …

Lezli Salz-Bradley

Lezli Salz-Bradley is the owner of Willow St. Boutique located in both Summit and Morristown, New Jersey. Her boutiques reflect her creative and adventurous style and carry a variety of interesting designer choices. When you walk in there is always someone ready to help with informed styling options. I love Willow St. because it reminds me of my time as a child in Southern California; chic dressing yet with a casual and bohemian edge (and much like the Ann Taylor-of old that I remember as a seventh-grader, shopping with my mom). Unplugged, here are Lezli’s thoughts …

My father brought fashion into our home at an early age; he owned several women’s clothing stores in Denver, Colorado. I have always felt that fashion is one’s self expression and my way of exploring my inner self, good or bad.

I knew that I always wanted to be my own boss and if I could incorporate my love of fashion it would be a win-win!

I love bringing new designers and new styles to our clients. I can visualize certain customers in particular colors and styles. I love introducing newness. It’s a sort of high when I find a designer that offers something original. I love to wow my customers!

One of the things I notice is that women are hesitant to try new things. That’s where my staff shines; getting them to be adventurous and make the outfit their own. I love it when I hear ‘I would never have tried that if you didn’t suggest it, and I was the hit of the party!’

I think clothing does affect our self-esteem; whether it is hiding a bulge here and there or just bringing a smile to someone’s face with a sparkling necklace or earring.”

~ Lezli

Excuse me while I run to Willow St. to find those great pants that Lezli is wearing! Is that pleather with velvet trim?

 

Wearing white …

Wearing white – my bebe tuxedo jacket

… in November and beyond …

I personally wear white all year round … winter white, off white, ecru, crisp white, all of it … Little known fact – I love to mix it with black. I love a black pump, or a black bag … a little cherry red lip … amazing! I never get sick of white. Do it. Don’t be scared of it.

~ Rachel Zoe, stylist, designer

What happens when two style trends come together? You get fashion perfection! That’s how I felt when I saw this bebe jacket in the store window. A black and white tuxedo jacket? I knew I had to try it. Not only are the colors my all-time classic favorites (so crisp, so chic), but the feel of this jacket is also soft and supple – a little spandex makes the difference. And if my style guru Rachel Zoe endorses wearing white all year round, I say … why not? Do it? I’m doing it. And I encourage you to do it, too!

What do you think?

Hat head

Having a bad hair day? Try a hat!

When you are out of sorts, you will do anything to feel normal again. Here is a tried-and-true fashion tip: When having a bad hair day, put on a hat! Hats are the solution for off days; chic and warm, they cover your hair without anyone knowing what lies underneath. It is a win-win!

This is the season for warm and woolly hats and there are so many styles from which to choose. During these last two crazy weeks when I didn’t have a moment to think, I opted for a hat. It worked every time!

What do you think?

Mom, I joined a harem!

My kind of harem!

Well, there are harems and then there are harems. Not-exactly-but-almost harem pants, mine are a gift to myself. Helmut Lang jersey black knit slacks are an homage to today’s relaxed whimsy and at the same time a treat to me, giving me extra leg room to breathe. Full, yet slim and lean and fitted with soft pockets, it pairs well with my Jason Wu for Target tee. It is an outfit that says, I look like I am not trying too hard.

In 1916 Coco Chanel rocked the fashion world by introducing jersey to her collection. Before that time, jersey had been used primarily for women’s undergarments. Chanel was really on to something. Jersey is soft and entirely comfortable on the skin; it is the perfect material for cooler days. I plan to wear these as often as possible.

Consider wearing jersey. Your mom will be happy it is not the other kind of harem!

What do you think?