Archive for the ‘Monograms’ Category

Easy Does It

In Accessories, Jewelry, Monograms, Shoes, Sundresses on July 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm

While I typically strive for a refined, polished look, there are those lazy weekend days that are made for comfortable, casual, and slightly “undone” styling.  I like the idea of throwing this striped shirt-dress on ($88, Madewell) and pairing it with some strappy brown sandals ($247.50, TheOutnet):

If you’re heading out on the town for errand-running, you might want to step it up a touch by cinching the waist with a skinny wraparound belt (I like “easy” aura of a loosely-wrapped belt).  Linea Pelle has great studded options, but I’m kind of in favor of this braided variation ($100, Linea Pelle):

Toss your belongings into an easy carry-all — I love the Linea Pelle “Dylan” tote below($395, Muse Ten):

I feel that this monogrammed Ginette NY necklace would totally complete the look.  They take 4-6 weeks to craft (you custom order them with your initials), and they are just the loveliest of keepsakes ($588, Eliza Page):

Perfect with this La Mer wrap watch (I snagged one of these last fall and get compliments on it all.the.time — it looks much pricier than it is! — $90, La Mer Collections):

Or, if it were cooler — ugh, miss the fall — slip the dress on with a pair of low wedge boots.  These Loeffler Randall “Mathilde” boots are my favorite — finally bit the bullet and bought a variation of the version below this past year ($695, Blue & Cream):

If you’re sporting the boots, I’d make the entire look a bit heavier by adding on some leather bracelets.  CCSkye has some appealing options, including this clasped version (on sale for $109, NYCIWear):

This easy-on striped dress would be another excellent option for low-keying it around on the weekend ($82, PixieMarket) — check out the back!

It’d look lovely in the fall/winter months thrown on over a pair of black tights and some mid-calf black boots ($105, Endless — also comes in a versatile “cognac” brown color).  Very Parisian chic.

(I apologize for the multiple references to fall — I guess I’m not-so-subliminally tired of the heat…)  Another SEASON appropriate pick — this breezy striped cap-sleeved, boxy blouse ($67.50,  Built by Wendy) with a pair of white shorts (Pucci, $154, TheOutnet):

I’d jazz it up with a clinky coin necklace (I’ve recently blogged about my obsession with Katie Costello’s coin necklaces, but this Ben Amun version is equally appealing — $300, Max and Chloe):

Alternately, layer on a couple of these initial necklaces (I am thinking it would be cute to have two: one with the first name initial, one with my NEW last name initial — $90 apiece, Laura James Jewelry):

Depending on my mood, I’d either slip into some moccasins (on sale for $79, J. Crew) or some strappy low-wedge sandals (on sale for $71, Zappos):

Another “right now” separates option: a denim shirt ($88, Madewell) and some white shorts ($135, Calypso):

Throw this vintage-looking scarf on for bonus points ($40, TopShop) — especially chic with these swoon-worthy Chloe woven leather sandals I’ve been eyeballing ($625, Net-A-Porter):

This “Bond Street” B&D tote would be the perfect accompaniment ($357, Bluefly):

I’m not usually huge into stud detailing, but the richness of the leather and the casualness of the overall look just works.  If you’d prefer the simplicity of a throw-on-and-go dress, how about this T By Alexander Wang racerback dress ($89, Kirna Zabete):

Very cool with these lace-up flat sandals ($78, Madewell) and this statement necklace by Mine ($45, Farfetch):

Or, if you’d rather go the scarf route, how amazing is this Gucci one ($283, Farfetch)?

Love the horse-bit detailing.  I’m also in love with this inexpensive could-double-as-a-cover-up-or-nightie dress from Gap (on super sale for only $14.99 in the navy stripe!):

Slip on a bold statement piece, like this chain link KJL necklace ($88, Shopbop) and these accented navy sandals ($49, Dillard’s)

Then tote your belongings around in this YSL script-side tote ($756, Bluefly):

Easy does it…


Schoolgirl Charm

In Accessories, Home Decor, Jewelry, Monograms, Shoes, Work Wear on May 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm

With the resurgence of the navy boyfriend blazer (it was all. over. the. place. this season), it’s no surprise that the prep school aesthetic is back in a major way.  (Thanks, in part, to Blair Waldorf, Serena Van Der Woodsen, and the other cast of characters on the CW’s Gossip Girl.)

Just take a gander at Anna Sui’s Spring/Summer 2010 runway collection:

I spy with my little eye band uniforms, East Coast preppy madras, and cricket sweaters.  Are we headed back to school before summer’s even out?  Apparently, if designers like Proenza Schouler, Luella, and Rag&Bone have anything to say about it.  They received high marks for their 2010 spring/summer collections, which featured heavy-handed plaids, navy blazers, and other woolen school-child goodies.  Because I attended private Catholic school from 1st grade through high school, I’ll always feel a little sheepish riffing on what was once a daily uniform that I despised.  But based on the offerings I’ve spotted this season?  I might just have to forgo my concerns and enroll.

It all begins with a classic, gold-buttoned blue blazer like the Theory Blinn above ($415, Barneys).  J. Crew’s Wool McCoy ($298, J. Crew) and Ralph Lauren’s Thelred Crested Blazer ($290, Ralph Lauren) receive A’s as well:

If you’re petite, test out one of the Brooks Brothers Boys’ navy blazers — they’re the real deal ($228, Brooks Brothers).  For a slightly less expensive version of the shrunken, little-brother fit, I’m loving Madewell’s version ($168, Shopbop):

This summer, I’m pairing mine with nautical striped tees and crisp little white pencil skirts for work, but I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect short circle skirt to carry out a little fashion fantasy of mine.  Think, for example, how fresh you’d look sporting your blazer with the J. Crew Cavalry skirt in white or khaki (on sale for $49.50, J. Crew):

Reese Witherspoon went for the same look — and looked positively varsity in it.

For a day at the gallery or an afternoon lunch, I love the idea of pairing the look with some gold BCBGirls gladiators for a trendy take on the traditional style ($78, Zappos):

For something a bit dressier, slip into some patent navy peep toes ($249, PeepToeShoes) or maybe swap out the girlish Cavalry skirt for a rugby-striped, high-waisted Alice & Olivia circle skirt ($165, Net-A-Porter):

Need more full circle skirt ideas?  Check out this Erotokritos pleated version ($181, Farfetch) or the black “Barren” skirt by Diane Von Furstenberg below ($245, Saks):

And — if you’re a bit on the bolder side — check out this precious printed high-waist skirt from Mod Clothing ($69).  I’d pair with some heavy gold chains — maybe this Nicol knotted necklace ($220, Shopbop), this Giles and Brother ($295, Shopbop), or this Fiona Paxton version ($296, The Hip Chick):

Alternately, pair a Marc by Marc Jacobs primary-school styled blouse — Peter Pan collar and all! ($178, Shopbop) — with a tidy little skirt-and-jacket uniform combo (both by Diane Von Furstenberg, $325 for jacket and $185 for skirt, available at Diani Boutique):

Adorable with some heavy gold jewelry.  I’m thinking solid gold studs ($150, Shopbop), a “class ring”-inspired bauble ($295, J. Crew), and a chunky “I graduated!” gold watch ($250, Michael Kors):

I’d add on a slouchy brown Tory Burch modified messenger bag ($395, Saks) or structured Mulberry brief-case-esque Bayswater (the Lucien is equally as lovely — both are around $1k, Mulberry):

I’m so in love with the lines of a circle skirt, a fitted blouse, and some super-high heels, I think you could even get away with a full-on plaid skirt like this little Joie “Willa” (on super sale for $54 at PiperLime) with a prim little short-sleeved blouse (Y, $440, Forward):

But beware: you’ll receive fashion demerits if you’re in a straight-up kilt, as you’ll wind up looking too much like a college freshman on Halloween.  The proportions are crucial: you’ve got to have the hem hit just above the knee and the waist appear high and nipped-in.  Take your cues from buttoned-up-chic Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl:

(If you’re loving the bow-collar white shirt look as an accompaniment, you can find a killer version by Max Mara at FarFetch for $151.)

If you’d prefer to avoid a literal take on the schoolgirl getup, there are some awesome variations on the navy blazer that will get you just where you want to be.  Consider, for example, this navy Ida double breasted car coat by king-of-cashmere brand Goat ($429, My Wardrobe):

I’d pair it with this cashmere, crested Burberry scarf ($295, Burberry):

But before I launch myself into the fall season (which can quickly happen when we’re thinking schoolyard fashion), let’s check out some other summer alternatives to the navy blazer.  Maybe this unstructured “sweater” version of the classic blazer by Splendid ($107, Bloomingdale’s) or a piped boyfriend sweater in timeless navy ($88, J. Crew or $79.50, Rugby) will suit your needs?

All would look extra-crisp and of-the-moment with skinny white jeans and some strappy brown leather sandals or — if you’re into the preppy style — some classic Sperry topsiders ($74.95, Endless):

If you’d prefer a slightly more feminine version of the topsider classic, I’m kind of in love with these Joan & Davids (I know, uncool label, but…so precious — $130, PiperLime):

Other add-ons?  A cheeky Anya Hindmarch canvas tote that reads “Homework” in schoolchild script ($120, Bloomingdale’s):

And then you’ll need a classic charm bracelet.  This vintage Chanel caught my eye ($1,550, Shopbop):

However, Marc by Marc Jacobs ($88, Zappos) and Ben Amun ($95, Max and Chloe) have much more affordable — and just as charming — versions:

And while on the subject of fanciful jewelry, I just adore this little La Mer ring watch ($58, La Mer Collections).  I’d probably wear it on a chain around my neck, but — how darling?!

Or maybe this crest-bearing “cigar” ring?  The coat of arms imprint is ideally suited to the boarding school prep look ($70, Couture Candy):

For after-school extra-curriculars?  I love the idea of trim little shorts, like these rosemary jacquard shorts (also come in canary yellow!) by Marc Jacobs ($124, Shopbop):

How cute would it look with a little roll-neck rugby sweater (this one is from the Crew Cuts sweater at J. Crew, $39.50):

You could also pair it with any of the many lovely bateau-neck tops that are out this season (check APC and J. Crew for options).  Alternately, imagine how precious this little madras top ($90, La Garconne) with some crisp white nautical shorts would look:

Both school’s-out outfits would look darling with some boat shoes or some gold or white Jack Rogers and a classic canvas bag ($17.95-$30.95, L.L. Bean):

Ideas for outfitting your home in updated prep school style?  Start with a tartan throw ($49 down from $150, Eddie Bauer) and accent with a super-cool “book box” ($49, Wisteria) and a vintage-style globe ($29.99, World Market):

Spruce up your couch with these awesome needlepoint pillows featuring prepster repp ties and belts by Jonathan Adler ($195 apiece, Jonathan Adler):

The pillows above remind me of the classic needlepoint belts by Smathers & Branson (one of the founders is the son of my high school English teacher — it all comes back to education):

I snagged the crab version above for my fiance last summer from Cape Cod-ready clothing outpost Sherman Pickey in Georgetown.  You can buy yours (for your hubby or yourself!) at the Smathers & Branson online boutique for $165 apiece.

And — just to round out your wardrobe — make sure you invest in some quality loafers.  I’m mad about these Tod’s mocs ($385, My Theresa):

And why not invest in a lady-like plaid handbag, like this darling Brooks Brothers frame bag ($74, Brooks Brothers)?

I feel as though Blair Waldorf would pair it with this Peter Pan collar sheath dress by L’Wren Scott ($2,206, My Theresa):

If the style is too dainty for you, Brooks Brothers also sells a larger structured tote version for $150.  Plenty big enough for your books, your pens and highlighters (to be stored in your Rag & Bone tartan pouch — $100, Saks), and your cheekily-titled notebook (the cover reads “Academics I Met and Liked — $10, Velocity Art and Design).

Let’s not forget your guide to etiquette and style: “The Preppy Handbook,” a tongue-in-cheek look at Waspy life originally published in 1980 ($23.95 and up for a used copy, Amazon):

(It’s hilarious.)  So study up!

After-School (or Anytime) Magpie Snacks

Because studying and shopping for just the right look can be draining, refuel with some of my go-to “after school” snacks.  First — my fiance’s absolute favorite treat: LU’s Petit Ecoliers (slabs of chocolate on top of buttery, crumbly cookies).  You can find them in most stores for around $4 a pack.

Second, we have my Magpie Munch — a slight variation on the traditional chex mix that I make regularly.  You’d be astounded at how quickly this stuff goes, especially when placed out during cocktail hour.

Magpie Munch

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix 3 cups corn chex, 3 cups wheat chex, and 3 cups rice chex.  Add some mini pretzels and garlic-flavored bagel chips (if you can find the mini ones, great!  If not, just break the larger ones into bite-sized pieces).  I usually add some other little munchy item — peanuts, rye bagel chips, goldfish, etc.  Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons butter in microwave.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, about 1.5-2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder,  3/4 teaspoon onion powder, an 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay.  Because my fiance likes a little heat, I’ll occasionally whisk in some hot sauce.  Pour over the chex, toss to coat, and then spread out on foil-lined baking sheet.  Place in oven, stirring mix every ten minutes or so, until cereal is toasted (usually around 20 minutes, but sometimes takes longer).  Test taste a cereal square for seasoning.  I frequently add quite a bit more garlic powder and seasoned salt by sprinkling it on top and mixing, but always test first.  Yum!

Life’s a Picnic

In Home Decor, Monograms, Shoes, Sundresses on May 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Though it’s been unseasonably cool the past couple of days here in the District, the forecast promises high 70s/low 80s come Wednesday and Ms. Right-on-the-Money has invited me to the beach for Memorial Day — in other words, all I can think about is summertime, summertime, summertime.  And, because I love an excuse to entertain, I’m dreaming up a fun day-in-the-sun outdoorsy picnic.

I received the most amazing barrel-shaped picnic basket from one of my bridal shower guests — it came outfitted with all the requisite glasses, plates, and utensils tucked inside.  The one above is by PicnicTime — you can find a range of their products at eBags. If the basket is too elaborate a prop for you, test out one of these two canvas Anya Hindmarch totes (the first reads “Picnic” on the side and is available for $98 at Saks; the second accommodates six bottles of wine (!) and is available for $120 at Anya Hindmarch):

Then you’ll need a big red-and-white checked blanket or tablecloth to spread on the ground (gingham is an absolute must for the retro-style picnic I’m envisioning) — the one below is by Felix Populi ($80):

You can seat your guests on comfy Sunbrella ground cushions ($49 apiece, Crate and Barrel) in a cheery daffodil yellow.

As for dining implements?  As you know, I find anything monogrammed and melamine adorable for outdoor entertaining.  How about some gingham-patterned plates ($22 each, LaPlates):

These personalized Duraclear tumblers are perfect for summertime lemonade…or Mint Juleps ($68 for set of six, Williams Sonoma):

And for a summer salad — how perfectly designed is this little piece from Crate and Barrel?  The servers snap in and snap out — ideal for transport ($14.95, Crate & Barrel):

Speaking of easy transport, how adorable (and useful) are these gingham Chinese takeout boxes?  You could pack them with your picnic fare — individualized portions of fruit salad, sesame noodles, or caramel popcorn ($14 for 6 at Plum Party):

And what will you, the guest of honor, be wearing?  I’d advise a matching retro-chic aesthetic.  I’m into checks and polka dots — how about this straight-out-of-the-50s housedress ($88, Anthropologie):

I think it’d look beyond adorable with some white Jack Rogers and a little wicker clutch:

The darling bow version above is by Margaret Nicole ($160), but if it’s too frou-frou for your tastes given the daintiness of the entire look, consider this woven barrel clutch by Michael Kors instead ($178, Bloomingdale’s):

Alternately, consider pairing the Jacks and your clutch of choice with some crisp white jeans (J. Brand) and a blue-and-white checked top (Tory Burch — $225, Bergdorf’s):

The gingham checked shirt is quickly earning icon status.  They’re all over the place right now — $40 at Gap; $69.50 at J. Crew; $151 for Gemma at Revolve Clothing; $160 for Steven Alan at Net-A-Porter; and so on and so on.  Celebs are all over the look — including the lovely Reese Witherspoon:

If that’s too farmer-girl-next-door, why not an updated polka dot pattern?  I’m absolutely bananas over this Alice by Temperley number ($425, Net-A-Porter):

Love the ketchup red color — perfect for the 4th of July.  Alternately, for something in the more modest price range — this byCorpus dress really caught my eye ($58, Urban Outfitters):

I’m crazy about the neckline.  So vintage-cool, easy-looking, and feminine.  Love.  I’m also head over heels for this sweet little tiered frock from Anthropologie ($158) — perfect for a lazy summer day!

If you find these dresses a bit too kitschy, you can look just as picnic-prepared in a white eyelet dress, like this Shoshanna ($330, Shopbop):

or this Lilly (on sale for $241 at Zappos — and it’s still full-price at Lilly’s eStore!):

Then all you’ll need is a pair of eye-catching sandals.  These fun frillies are by Gap (!) and will only set you back $34.50:

Consider rounding out the look with this precious red-and-white-checked envelope clutch ($50, TopShop) or this cherry-red-accented rattan clutch ($275, Tory Burch) and a pair of classic red Wayfarers ($145, Shopbop):

And while I’m guessing you won’t be sporting swimwear to your local park (although — possibly appropriate for sunbathing season?), I’m ga-ga over this gingham ruffle bikini by Dani Kates ($41 for top, $39 for bottoms — Bluefly):

Sports Illustrated model Abby Clancy rocked this exact style for a spread in the magazine, so I’m shocked it’s not sold out yet.  I’ve already snapped my set up and tucked it away for the honeymoon!

Looking for some easy-purchase last-minute accessories?  I’m loving this Kate Spade “Picnic Quinn” bag ($275, KateSpade):

Or, as a substitute for a traditional picnic basket, consider this lovely waterproof tote from the “Chesapeake Collection” at Ellen Allen of Annapolis (love that she’s local!):

(It’s $250.)  The interior has all kinds of pockets and pouches — my mom would die over it.

But once you’re there in the sun with good friends and good wine, the only thing you’ll need?  Some good ol’ tunes.  And lucky for us, Anthropologie has the perfect retro-chic answer to that need — a Roberts Revival radio ($328, Anthropologie — it comes in a range of adorable vintage-esque colors!):

Sit back and relax — quelle piquenique!


TheFashionMagpie’s Picnic Spread

Because I love to entertain, I’ve packed many-a-picnic in my day — so I thought I’d share some ideas on outdoor entertaining with you.  Rules of thumb: avoid mayonnaise or anything else that will go rancid when left out too long.  Try to aim for things easily eaten with one hand or scooped with a fork — nothing that requires cutting with a knife.  I’m big into Mediterranean fare these days — so I’ve copied some of my absolute favorite Mediterranean-inspired dishes (friends ask for these recipes all the time!)  I’d supplement these dishes with some pita rounds and/or pita chips, quality olives (i.e. from an olive bar at Whole Foods or another gourmet food purveyor, and harissa — a Tunisian hot chili sauce you can find in specialty markets).

The Magpie Couscous Salad

Cook a box of plain couscous according to the directions on the box.  In the meantime, combine 1/2 C fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 C olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper.  Pour some of dressing over warm couscous (enough to moisten and fragrance).  Add thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 of an onion), 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, freshly chopped watercress, 1/4 cup slivered almonds (I like to toast mine over medium heat in a small fry pan for a few minutes, until lightly browned), and fresh grapes, halved.  The proportions are approximate, so add as many grapes/nuts/onions as you’d like!  Finish by adding more dressing, to taste, depending on how lemon-y you like it.  I’ve also added shredded chicken in the past.

The Magpie Hummus

You’ll need a food processor for this one.  Mince 4 peeled cloves of garlic in the processor and add 2 cups canned chickpeas (reserve the juice in a separate ramekin), 1/3 cup tahini, the juice of two lemons (you may need to adjust depending on the juiciness and size of the lemons), 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Process until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved chickpea juice and drizzles of olive oil to increase the creaminess.  I will occasionally throw in a fistful of herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro) if I have it on hand — it just tastes fresh!

Kicked Up Brownies

Because no picnic is complete without ’em.  Prepare the batter of your favorite boxed brownie mix.  Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla (I use Nielson-Massey — $19, Williams-Sonoma), 2 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee, about a cup of high-quality chocolate chips or chunks (Ghirardelli is good), and toasted walnuts (toss them in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until they are fragrant).  Bake as indicated on the box.  They are delicious!

The Drink Situation

I love Bobby Flay’s red sangria recipe — turns out perfectly every time.  I tend to use fruity Spanish reds as the base — I’m especially keen on Tempranillos, and you can find good-tasting bottles for relatively cheap ($8/bottle).  If you’re not into that, my absolute favorite light summer wine is the inexpensive, palate-pleasing Famega ($7, Wine Library), which I discovered at my favorite wine shop, Best Cellars.  Famega is a vinho verde, or a Portuguese white wine known for its light, tart taste and slightly fruity aroma.  Although it doesn’t qualify as a sparkling wine, there’s definitely some petillance to it — a perfect, refreshing fit for a hot summer day.

Bon appetit!

The Seasoned Traveler

In Monograms, Shoes, Uncategorized on April 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

With a honeymoon not far in the future and quite a bit of recent travel along the Eastern seaboard under my belt, I’ve given some serious thought to making travel easier and more stylish.  For me, it all comes down to de-cluttering and compartmentalizing: I don’t like to be juggling 23 miscellaneous bags and I hate the feeling of scrounging around in an enormous bag for my passport.  All I need is one big shoulder strap carry-all and a roll-a-board.  I usually carry my Louis Vuitton Neverfull — it can hold my entire life and more, Macbook included —

I organize the contents with smaller zip-top bags: a neoprene laptop case for Mr. Apple (mine is a hot pink inCase brand — $39, inCase), a clear makeup compartment that I can remove and place in the separate bin during security screening (Kate Spade, on sale now for $38 at Bloomingdales), and one or two for miscellaneous items — pens, passport, iPod, etc. (the one below is by Anya Hindmarch, $70, Net-A-Porter — the website claims they will be getting new stock in soon!)

Anya Hindmarch has come out with a bunch of adorable little pouches just like the one above for a variety of purposes — I’ve seen ones labeled “Parking” (for parking coinage), “Glasses,” “Odds & Ends,” and more —

(You can find some of them on Anya’s website.)  I also always keep the jewelry I’m traveling with in a separate pouch in my carry-on.  It’s just foolish to check it.  My soon-to-be-parents-in-law gave me this classic Tiffany jewelry roll that I carry with me everywhere, and I like to keep bigger statement pieces in my gold Kate Spade pencil case (can double as a clutch while you’re on vacation!):

I keep my pearls separately for whatever reason, in a little round monogrammed jewelry pouch my mother gave me years ago.  (The much-revered Leontine Linens has similar versions.)

With my shoulder bag squared away, all I need is a roll-a-board that will fit in the overhead compartment.  I have a hot pink Longchamps Pliage collection bag I picked up in France several years ago, and I love it — you never run the risk of having someone run off with your bag (too obvious) and it’s easily spottable on the conveyor belt.

($270, Longchamps.)  They are super compact — smaller, actually, than they need to be to qualify as a stowable overhead item — but I just springload mine with clothing.  If I were to buy another, I’m in love with this Henri Bendel ($595):

Why not travel in color?  Flight001 (an Oprah-approved vendor) features a range of brightly colored and patterned options, including the beloved Rimowa-brand Salsa Air Cabin Trolley, fabricated of some amaza-material that acts like a hard case but compresses/gives in a tight spot:

For smart packing within the bag, I die over this monogrammed lingerie bag that the mother of my maid-of-honor gifted me at one of my bridal showers (So Pretty Monograms, $60):

The above-mentioned Leontine Linens company has some covetable monogrammed lingerie and toiletry bags as well (first image below), as does the company Turq Bridal (Ms. Southern Belle gifted me a lovely toile version for helping me with her wedding a few years ago — great gift! — it’s roomy and I usually keep my bathing suits in it):

Because I’m a big shopper, I usually throw in an extra Longchamps Pliage tote.  They weigh next-to-nothing, fold up into tidy little envelope, and expand to a decent size — and they come in such an amazing range of colors ($145, Nordstrom)!

With the luggage down pat, let’s move on to attire.  I feel as though every guidebook tells you to “dress for comfort” and while I couldn’t agree more (imagine a 5 hour flight in skin-tight jeans!), I’m grossed out by the sloppy track suit / loose-fitting pants and sneakers route.  Sick.  Maybe this is because my parents always made us “dress up” for travel —  my father usually wears a blazer to the airport, and my Mom looks like she’s ready for lunch with the Queen when she’s train-bound.  And I love that.  While I’m not quite as formal, looking put-together is the first step in an organized travel experience.  I usually wear ankle-length Paige or J Brand jeans with a little stretch in them and the ubiquitous easy-off Tory Burch Reva flat (perfect for slipping out of at the security checkpoint).

I’m also getting into the whole moccasin shoe look.  I bought my fiance some classic Tod’s driving loafers a few years ago and have been longing for some of their brightly-colored mocs for women ever since.  Until I decide to take the leap and invest in a pair, I’ll live in J. Crew’s less expensive ($108) Emilies.  (I’m also kind of obsessed with Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow 1960 mocs — offbeat cool at $178.)

Up top, layering is crucial.  I begin with a cami (love J. Crew’s “Perfect Fit” tank — 2 for $30), then add a blousey, long shirt (as mentioned in my Cube Couture post, I love the brand Tucker — they cost around $275 a piece — but have also had good luck at Zara of all places); and a long, drapey cardigan (Splendid has some awesome ones — $63, Revolve Clothing).

I always bring a light-weight, foldable coat as well.  A trench would work, but I love my little red Juicy Couture coat (I’ve featured it multiple times already):

I’m also in love with this bracelet-sleeve khaki parka for travel ($298, Bergdorf Goodman) — coincidentally, also by Juicy Couture:

It could work in the rain or just for some additional worth.  Occasionally, for longer flights, I’ll swap out the jeans for a pair of black American Apparel leggings ($26) and some of those low-wedge boots I love:

The above pair are by Loeffler Randall ($664, Revolve Clothing), and I have to brag that I just snapped up this impractical but I-die-over-them perforated version at ChickDownTown for 75% off (!)

Steve Madden has an awesome much-more-affordable version known as the Intyce ($129, Nordstrom):

Everyone and her mother owns a pair, but they’re a great way of getting the look for less.  Love this cognac color — it matches well with everything!  (Beware: these shoes have about one season of solid use in them.  Then they die.)  I’ve also snagged these BCBG Petler boots (on sale now for $91 at Zappos) in a faux-croc material.  They look surprisingly expensive in person — and they run super-narrow, so they make your legs look trim:

I also always, always bring a big pashmina in a coordinating color — I like either solids (bright, happy peony pink or demure camel color), a leopard print, or a cool-looking stripe.  Tolani has some awesome and extremely-popular-amongst-the-celebs versions (around $75 each), but they can at times look a little dowdy for my taste.  I’m into the one Style Icon Nicole Richie’s wearing here, though:

Hilary Duff, another Tolani enthusiast, claims that she buys “African and Indian tablecloths” and throws them around her neck…woah, H-Duff.  Not sure I’m on your page with that one.  I’m more inclined towards solids I’ve snagged from a vendor called “Off the Shoulder” at my high school’s annual “Esprit de Noel” (bazaar with lots of preppy vendors) or this luxe Armand Diradourian ($285, Barney’s):

They can double as blankets when I’m cold on the plane — and I’m always cold on the plane.  For this reason, I never travel without a spare pair of Smartwool socks.  They are ugly and embarrassing but they keep my toesies toasty ($17, Smartwool).  I live in them.

For longer flights, I occasionally pack an actual throw blanket.  I’m in love with this Henri Bendel cashmere version ($388):

Other musts for on-board survival?  An iPod shuffle (in love with it — perfect for working out and so tinytinytiny…I also have an iPhone for all the fun apps that I need to keep me occupied) and some huge shades (these are Stella McCartney, $200):

And, of course, a good book.  I’m not a big contemporary lit consumer; I’m beholden to the classics.  But that doesn’t mean they need to be heavy and dense.  Check out the brilliant, devilishly critical social commentaries in Evelyn Waugh’s novels (Vile Bodies is hilarious — $10, Amazon) or some of Fitzgerald’s short fiction (note that his track record with short stories is uneven — he wrote some for magazine audiences, and these tend to have awkward crowd-pleasing endings).

I also have some beauty essentials: along with the requisite DiorShow mascara and Nars bronzer, I need antibacterial gel (traveling leaves me feeling dirty — so many people in such confined spaces), L’Occitane’s travel-sized hand lotion (loved the rose bud scent, but think it was a Limited Edition deal — $10, L’Occitane), and solid perfume (luckily, Tocca’s Cleopatra scent — my signature — comes in the solid for $30,

Thanks to my soon-to-be-mother-in-law, I’m also never without an umbrella: the Totes version she gave me in hot pink literally fits in my jacket pocket.  It’s perfect for the unexpected downpour — and it’s only $10 (KMart).

Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m not always so put-together and practical.  Just this year, I invested in a Louis Vuitton duffel.

I lovelovelove it, but, for a shoulder-strap bag, it is decently heavy on its own and unimaginably heavy with the amount of clothes I try to jam in.  If you’re gunning for it, make sure you get the version with a shoulder strap.  It seems like a ridiculous expense ($200 more for a strap?!), but I literally wouldn’t be able to use my bag without it.  Other cute-but-impractical travel items?  A little hat-box-esque boxy tote — love this Henri Bendel —

I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for some jetsetting…

Life Aquatic

In Accessories, Beach Wear, Home Decor, Jewelry, Monograms, Sundresses, The Honeymoon Trousseau on April 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm

You may have noticed that The Fashion Magpie is “all aboard” with the nautical trend — just take a gander at the “Nautical by Nature” and “Ahoy, Matey” posts from a few weeks back.  This Markus Lupfer t-shirt (a vastly overpriced $170 at Net-A-Porter) pretty much sums up my approach to the look:

But what about marine life itself — beneath the sea rather than above deck?  I’ve been noticing a lot of accessories featuring clamshells, seahorses, starfish, and more — and I love it.  What could be better for my upcoming “Bachelorette Party Kick Off” at the beach house of my fellow fashion magpie and bridesmaid (I’ll call her Ms. On-the-Money — she’s one of those girls who always has just the right outfit for the occasion)?

Let’s start with the items on my current lust list.  I have literally begun the purchasing process for this Kate Spade clamshell ring 2,923 times ($125 at Nordstrom) — each time worrying that I might be going too big with this one:

Don’t get me wrong: I love an aggressively-sized cocktail ring.  But 1.5″ x 1.5″ on my tiny hand?  Hm.  I’ll mull it over and probably buy it anyway.  Kate Spade also has this adorable seahorse bangle up for grabs ($225, Kate Spade):

I’m bananas about this Pisces-perfect Emilio Pucci dress ($1,860 at Net-A-Porter) — can you imagine how hot it’d be with a late summer tan, some super-high white pumps (Fendi, $980, also Net-A-Porter), and an updo?  Love.

I’ve already shared with you my love of starfish.  I featured these precious studs by KEP Designs ($250) a few days ago and have been drooling over them since:

But how adorable is this delicate starfish charm on a chain by DogEared ($46 for sterling silver; $54 for gold-dipped)?  What a perfect gift for a good friend or a bridesmaid (hmm…my wedding is coming up in August) — or maybe just for myself:

One of my very dearest girlfriends from UVA gave me a Dogeared necklace with a solitary pearl on it for Christmas and I wear it every single day I’m not wearing a big statement piece.  Magpie Deal: you can get 20% off your order at Dogeared by entering the code LuckyBreaks5 at checkout!

If you’re a fan of the starfish, too, consider this bauble by Bounkit ($495, Marissa Collections):

I’m swooning for all of the aqua-studded pieces in the collection as well.

Other sea-creature featuring jewelry?  The covetable Mesi Jilly rings I blabbed out in my Tropical Punch post (definitely the most popular post to date — check it out if you haven’t seen it! — and side note: Miss Big City emailed me the other day to say that Jenna Lyons, the head designer over at J. Crizzle, must have been taking a note out of my book, because she just featured a new “Turks and Caicos” spread as well!).  The Jilly rings are insta-heirloom masterpieces — and I recently found out why: they’re all handmade in Italy and individually designed by Ms. Jilly herself.  Um.  Uh-may-zing.  You can pick one up for around $1,000 from Kirna Zabete:

I like the idea of wearing one with an airy white caftan on the beach (Calypso-Celle often has breezy sundress options and a decent sale section to boot — the tunic below is “The Aurora,” $135) and some metallic gold sandals (you know my “Thing” for K. Jacques — love ’em — but these comparable Tabithas by J. Crew ring in at an affordable $88!):

I also like the idea of lounging by the beach all day in a coral print bikini (the one below is by the one-and-only Melissa Odabash, a very hip UK-based swimwear designer — $166, Madison L.A.):

Don’t mind if I do.  I’d throw on this airy batwing tunic, also by Melissa Odabash, and available through her own online boutique:

While you’re on the Odabash site, browse all of her tunics/cover-ups.  They are ridiculously chic.  Believe me — if you wind up putting down your plastic, you’ll seriously consider booking an impulse trip to St. Tropez just to have an adequate audience for your new beachwear’s debut.

If you’re more inclined towards the preppy, check out Lilly Pulitzer.  She has a bunch of coral print items out this season, including this bright bikini, available at Lilly Pulitzer’s eShop:

Continuing with the coral motif, consider splurging on this Simon Tu coral necklace:

You can pick it up at Vivre ($1,125), but KEP Designs has a similar style for about half the price ($660 — see it here).  I’d wear it with a simple strapless white dress — I’m thinking of one of those little embossed numbers that J. Crew has out every season and that we all own in 23 different colors (on sale now, $69, at JCrew):

With some metallic accessories or a pair of hot wedges and a raffia clutch?  Perf.

(Love the little turtles on the clutch above — perfect for this “Life Aquatic” theme.  You can snap it up at Vivre as well — $800, by Ismachseven.)  If you’re a little intimidated by the idea of wearing a bold coral necklace, why not get the same bright pop of color without the statement-making shape?  This cheery Anthropologie necklace is perfect — and only $28:

While you’re in the Anthro store, consider the lobster-print dress I was chit-chatting about a few weeks back.  It didn’t fit me properly, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t test the waters!  I saw one little chica wearing it at Foxfield and, while I wasn’t sure if it was Foxfield-appropriate, still found it made me smile ($138, Anthropologie):

You’d need to wear it with simple accessories — say, white Jack Rogers and a little white woven clutch.  Anything else would look a little overdone given the scale and whimsicality of the print.  Think lobsters are charming but find the above dress over-the-top?  Why not entertain with the style?  I’m nutso about Dabney Lee’s monogrammable lucite serving trays ($120):

Check out her other home goods as well; she also has adorable ice buckets, place mats, and napkins in a variety of bright graphic prints.  And they’re all personalizable.  And you know I love a monogram.  Her blog is delightful as well — Ms. Southern Belle, I totally envision your future children’s nursery to look just like the one she wrote about here.  Oh!  And while on the subject of the little ones — just had dinner two nights ago with Christine Meulemans, one of my little sister’s good friends from Wake Forest and just the most adorable girl ever.  She’s a super-talented photographer specializing in lifestyle and family portraiture — love her photography style, love her website!  Definitely need to keep her in mind for big moments down the road…

But back to sea-scape-inspired home decor: why not spruce up the bedroom with some coral-print sheets (these are from Williams-Sonoma)?

Or maybe add some coral-print pillows to the couch (Pottery Barn):

And — because I won’t be happy concluding this post until I feature a few little gems I’ve been stockpiling for just-the-right-post over the past few weeks — consider toting your life around in this adorable Henri Bendel carry-all ($128, Henri Bendel):

If you’re willing to go a bit bolder, check out this NOIR koi fish ring I scored about a year ago.  I’m obsessed with the NOIR line of cocktail rings — so fun, glitzy, whimsical.  They’ve designed a line of rings featuring all different kinds of animals, from owls to elephants, and they always draw a lot of “oohs and aahs” from a fashion-interested audience.  I tend to wear my little fish with a navy frilly J. Crew blouse, skinny jeans, and some kicky shoes for a dinner out with friends:

And finally: though the pirate is not officially an aquatic life-form, he looms large in oceatic iconography, and I’d be remiss to omit this adorable little pirate sarong by Tara Matthews ($68, TheOutnet):

With a little white bikini and some gold sandals?  I’d be happy as a clam.

Candy Striping

In Accessories, Cocktail Dresses, Home Decor, Jewelry, Monograms, Shoes, Sundresses on April 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

So I have a confession: I get weekly and, occasionally, bi-weekly (!) manicures.  Shame on me.  Every time I head to Vicky’s (best nail salon in D.C., hands down — and conveniently located a block away from in Georgetown), I tell myself “You know, you should really try a new color.”  And every time I make a bee-line for Essie’s Lollipop.

Well, that’s not true.  Sometimes I’ll branch out and try Geranium or Escapades, but let’s be honest: they’re all pretty much the same — the cheeriest, glossiest (lolli-)pop of color.  Vicky recently joked with me about my fascination with red (“Do you wear anything else?”) and suddenly I realized I was, in fact, sporting not only lollipop-red nail lacquer but a lollipop-red ruffle coat (Juicy Couture’s Poinsettia Coat):

and, over a frilly white blouse (J. Crew):

And lollipop-red Jackie cardigan (also by J. Crew):

In essence, I was candy-striping my way through winter.

It make sense: traditionally, candy stripers wear red-and-white get-ups to boost morale while visiting patients in hospitals; no wonder I was gravitating toward cherry red!  It was powering me though the lingering grayness of late winter / early spring.  I mean — wouldn’t these red kicks put a little pep in your step?

(The first pair is quite a find — $39 by Chinese Laundry!  They bring me back to my childhood, when I sported “Jellies” for weeks on an end.  Word to the wise: Missoni has a similar “Jellie throwback” style out this season, and Sassanova is selling them in a hot pink color with a signature Missoni print fabric bow.  They are pre-cious.  The second pair above are classic Kate Spade.)  Or why not brighten your day with these adorable underpinnings by the one and only Phillip Lim (available, for more than a pretty penny, through Net-A-Porter):

Or, for the truly fashion-forward, this happy nod-to-the-50s frock:

On the runway, Jacobs styled the dress with a belt, which leads me to believe that I would never be able to wear it in “real life” (it’s also conveniently well out of my price range) — I’m envisioning myself engulfed in voluminous, definitionless organza.  Looking for a more wearable iteration of the same, retro-cheery look?  Try Kate Spade’s Jillian dress:

You’d almost need to wear them with a nude or pale pink pump like the Louboutin I featured in yesterday’s post.  If you’re not so much into the head-to-toe look, a pop of cherry red here or there will be enough of a mood-booster to propel you through the day.  Imagine sporting this cute Kate Spade bag (the “Plisse Priti,” on sale now at the KS website):

Or this bow-heavy tote, by Augustina (London and Toronto-based):

(It’s a hair more affordable than the classic Valentino bow bag.)  I imagine myself wearing one of them with a crisp white oxford (no frills or details), some cigarette-leg dark-wash jeans, and some kickin flats, like these, by Guiseppe Zanotti (on sale now for $220 at FootCandyShoes, one of my personal favorite eRetailers — they have a killer sale section):

Maybe you’d just want some retro-chic Wayfarers, a la Rachel Bilson, or an eye-catching “red-hot” necklace like this one, by Bettina Louise ($800,

Or maybe, in true “candy-striper” fashion, you want to entertain some guests?  I’d love to host with one of these Fontaine Maury personalized melamine trays (I snagged a green and navy version with my new married initials on it, as I mentioned in my “Certified Monogram Fanatic” post):

You could serve up some old-fashioned cocktails with some old-fashioned paper straws (I’ve seen them sold at Crate & Barrel in seasons past, but also know that you can pick them up on the cheap — $3 for 50 — at

If you’re looking to take the look literal, I dig this Vivienne Westwood (on sale at

To avoid looking like a walking peppermint stick, I’d tone down the accessories — just some black wayfarers or a pair of oversized, jet-black sunnies.  These, by Oliver Peoples, should do the trick:

You’d also need a big, black “I’m super classy” bag, like this one, which I got from my wonderful mother for Christmas (the Kate Spade Poppy Fields Tote in black, still available at

Slip into a pair of simple black flats (preferably patent), and you’re ready to go.  But before I skip off in my own mood-boosting cherry red, I’ll leave you with a few drool-worthy footwear options:

(Jimmy Choo.)


(Also Valentino.)

Now that’s enough to put you on a day-long fashion high.

The Fashion Magpie, Certified Monogram Fanatic

In Home Decor, Monograms on April 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

You may have noticed my “thing” for monograms over the past few posts.  First it was a monogrammed shower curtain for the bathroom:

Then it was a Jack & Lulu framed monogram:

I don’t know what it is, but I just love personalizing things with my own initials.  On the one hand, it just feels “old school” — like you’re creating heirlooms left and right that you can pass along to generations in the future.  On the other hand, the types of monogrammed products that exist are just so preppy and cute.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve stumbled upon a number of darling home accents that I’ve had monogrammed.  Take, for example, a melamine monogrammed tray from Fontaine Maury:

Or the ultimate in preppy outdoor BBQ entertaining — the original monogrammed Tervis tumbler:

A snagged a set of four with a matching ice bucket featuring my new married initials, but then also fell in love with Williams-Sonoma’s variation (their duraclear tumblers), so I added these to my registry:

While we’re on the subject of entertaining, why not have some monogrammed cocktail napkins, like these (also from Williama-Sonoma):

Horchow has a “monogram shop” on their website — tons of personalizable party goods (including frosted cups, drink stirrers, and even wrapping paper!)  They can be a bit pricey, but wait for one of their epic “30% off everything” coupons, and you’ll be good to go.  I could go on and on — the possibilities are endless!  Monogrammed bed linens from Pottery Barn, engraved Julep cups, embossed Longchamp luggage…but I’ll conclude with one of my new discoveries: the MacBeth Collection.  I discovered the site while looking for a preppy printed container to hold some gift bags at my wedding reception, and now I’m considering having a personalized trash can to accent my bathroom’s navy nautical theme:

(You can have any of their products personalized, and they come in a huge range of bright, fun prints.)  Until next time…

Ahoy, matey!

In Home Decor, Monograms on April 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Two days ago, I wrote a post on the nautical trend in fashion.  When I began browsing for some bathroom decor ideas for my new apartment with my soon-to-be-husband, something clicked: why not have a nautical theme in there?  Nothing too cheesy or over the top — just crisp navy trim, white frames, silver Julep accents, maybe a large print on the wall.

Let’s start with the basics: a dramatic white-with-navy-monogram-and-trim shower curtain (by Matouk, available at Neiman Marcus for $328):

Then we’ll add some plush navy towels by Ralph Lauren — monogrammed, of course! (Side note: my favorite home goods e-retailer,, often runs special “event pricing” on RL towels and feature free — or extremely low-cost — monogramming.  I’ve had my friends’ initials monogrammed on towel sets and given them away as gifts!)

And maybe a couple of printed towels to spice things up (like these, by Ralph Lauren as well):

I’m envisioning re-purposing a couple of the engraved Julep cups I snagged from for our toothbrush holder, cotton swabs, etc:

For the walls, I have a few ideas.  One: for the wedding ceremony, I commissioned a vintage-style hand-painted sign that has our name and our wedding date on it after browsing (great spot for some unique artsy / graphic design products — most purveyors will customize their products to your specifications, which is always neat).  Though a number of different Etsy shops/designers offer similar products, I snagged mine from Funki Folk Art’s shop because I liked the rustic style, chipped wood, and size.  You can buy one at:

At any rate, I am going to repurpose the sign and hang it in the bathroom — it just seems appropriate for a “out on the heavy seas” look — especially if I tie navy or yellow ribbon through the loops and hang it up by the bow.  At the other end of the spectrum, I’m thinking of hanging one of Jack and Lulu’s framed monograms (just can’t get enough of the personalized products!  Am I going overboard?) in a navy and green or navy and yellow print (they come framed in big white wood frames):

I figure my fiance will love the nautical theme for two reasons: 1) he loves sailing and he loves Ralph Lauren — i.e. all things preppy and nautical-inspired; b) his current bathroom at his bachelor pad is in navy and black-watch-tartan, so we can repurpose some of his towels in our new space.

He also has this neat old brown wood chest that he currently uses to store surplus toothpaste, advil, and other toiletries — that might be a nice way to round out the theme…

Decorating the Newlywed Nest

In Home Decor, Monograms on March 31, 2010 at 12:45 am

Despite the fact that I still have a number of wedding to-dos on my list, I couldn’t help but get excited about the prospect of decorating my new home.  Sure…we haven’t found that “home” yet, but that didn’t stop me from spending hours poring over my favorite home design / bedding websites in search of the perfect gender-neutral bedroom and bathroom accoutrements.  My first stop:  Aside from the fact that they run special discounts regularly (every couple of weeks I receive “extra 30% off all purchase” coupons in my inbox and absolutely drool over the possibilities), they have a nice range of bedding options, from the ornate/over-the-top/it-looks-like-it’s-from-medieval-times to the graphic/contemporary/looks-like-it’s-from-the-MoMa.

While I would never in a million years have guessed it, I fell in love with the platinum shade from Pine Cone Hill’s Genevieve collection.  Since I have a white wainscotted bedframe from Crate & Barrel, it will look wonderfully “bridal” while still fresh and inviting…not to mention relatively gender-neutral, which is a big concern of my fiance’s.  (My bedroom is currently dusty rose pink with sage green accents.  All of my bedding is by Matouk, a GREAT bedding brand.  At any rate — it’s not exactly “guy” territory.)  Look at this lovely palette and contrast of textures:

The plan is to have the platinum rosary quilt covering the majority of the bed, the patterned coverlet folded at the bottom, and a mix of quilted and patterned shams at the top.  To play off of the airiness of the bed, I’m considering purchasing this mirrored bed side table from Pottery Barn:

I think it will add interest to the room and break up the “all white” monotony of my bedroom furniture.  Plus, I just love a little mirrored accent here or there.  Vintage and chic.  I can just imagine a little silver julep cup (I just had a couple monogrammed with our new initials! — I ordered them from Pottery Barn) filled with white hydrangea on the bedside table.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was slightly motivated to pursue the neutral color palette after drooling over Charlotte York’s apartment from “Sex and the City.”  Sure, my reference to SATC is slightly dated, but the decor of her apartment was just jaw-dropping.  Take a look and drool.

Eventually, I’d love to upgrade to an upholstered bed-frame and dark wood furniture.  I think this would ENSURE that my fiance (by then — husband!) feels as though he is in an apartment that is not in any way an affront to his masculinity…