Saturday, July 31, 2010

TRAVEL YOGA

I am on another trans-Pacific trip and remembered to share another travel trick to avoid swollen ankles and aching backs.

On long flights, it is convenient to book the Bulk Head seats so you have room to stretch and move around. This is particularly important if you are crunched up in Economy Class, but works as well in Business or First Class cabins.  I use this space for a little airplane yoga.


Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
from yogajournal.com

I am an active person, and especially as a dancer, feel extremely uncomfortable being immobile for any length of time.  With the extra room at Bulk Head, I can do simple versions of Sun Salutations, calf stretches, even narrow lunges to get the blood moving! 


Deep Lunge, from wholeliving.com
You can do a shortened version of Downward Dog by facing your seat, folding at your waist and holding the armrests to lengthen your back and get a little hamstring and calf stretch.  There is room for a Standing Forward Fold.  You can do alternating leg Calf Raises for exercise.  In a pinch, I have stretched my legs in front of my face right in my seat.


Forward fold right in your seat
from yogalifestyle.com

There is no need to be shy. You can do this in the dark while other passengers are asleep. Believe me, even in full view, I have found other passengers look and then copy me! 

Given all this movement on board, remember to dress in knit or other stretchy garments for greater comfort.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

AWAY ON VACATION

I will be away over the next few weeks and will probably blog sparingly.

Meanwhile, I leave you with some thoughts on swim wear.

Waimea Swim Series from athleta.com

This may surprise a lot of people but Two-Piece Suits are a good option whether you are scrawny or curvy.  They can flatter varied body types on an average woman better than the wrong style maillot:

  • Many labels allow you to size the top and bottom separately for a great fit
  • You can even mix styles up, like a tankini on top and string bikini bottom
  • For most women, the deep V-plunge of the bra is a slimming feature
  • You can choose the cut of your bottom (hipster, boy short, high cut, thong ...) to flatter your shape
Missoni crochet bikini, from polyvore.com
Not to be worn in water!


Note, if you are an athletic person engaged in active water sports, you need performance swimwear that won't leave you with a wardrobe malfunction mid-lap.  Regular swimsuits  made for lounging will stretch when wet and can leave you uncovered with one strenuous move!  Shelve your crochet, glamor bikinis if you are water bound.

For tips on what looks flattering, check out this site Glamour Swimsuit Shopping Guide

Sunday, July 25, 2010

PACIFIC COAST STYLE: AMERICAN CHIC

I'm heading down the California Coast beginning with Monterey Bay - the backdrop to John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row"  -  through the charming town of Carmel to the rugged beauty of Big Sur.  The Beat Generation's Jack Kerouac immortalized Big Sur in his writings too.

Big Sur, CA (from myfreewallpaper.net)

On the Coast, activities range from outdoorsy treks by the beach to world class wining and dining.  This makes packing a bit complicated.   Did I mention that the Coast can be cold and foggy in the middle of summer too?  It will be in the 50s to 60s Farenheit this July, colder if we are in the middle of the ocean spotting humpbacks.

Jeans and sturdy shoes can take care of horseback riding and trekking.  What about the evenings when the local Inn offers its wine and cheese reception, or when we stroll by the many acclaimed restaurants in Carmel?  This calls for ...

AMERICAN CHIC
Rugged fabrics like denim, though perhaps in white or as a skirt, and camel-colored leathers or suedes nod to Carmel's most famous resident, Clint Eastwood.  Vogue's fashion editor, Tonne Goodman, also embodies this effortless American style:

model as Tonne Goodman, Vogue August 2008

Here are a few ideas of the mix of fabrics and styles that can bring on this look:

Camel sweater jacket with fur and denim trim
White jeans contrasted with denim wedges with suede bow

White V-neck tops suede pants
Cropped denim jacket and denim shoes finish it
You can play around with the fabrics in unexpected places - like suede pants, or denim shoes.

Note:  To make legs look longer in either ensemble, swap the contrast shoes for a pair of neutrals, like camel-colored suede booties.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SUMMER PANTS SUIT

There is something so timelessly elegant about the white suit.

Bianca Jagger in the '70s turned this into an iconic style that continues to be relevant - and utterly stylish - today.  Paired with high heels and floppy hat, the look still projects confident elegance.

Mick & Bianca Jagger's wedding

Bianca Jagger at the airport
This is such a timeless Style that varies little from year to year.  Chaiken's version from their Spring 2008 collection looks just as chic today.  Even Tom Ford revived Jagger's YSL white pants suit in his collection while he was at YSL.  If you already have one in your closet from the last decade, you can use it again!

Chaiken Spring 2008
Key things to remember with this look:

  • Make sure the jacket is tailored perfectly on you.  Ill-fitting creases or boxiness can make it look frumpy.
  • Straight or even wide-legged trousers give it the most elegant drape.  If the pants are cut tight, the look is on the trendy side and may not be as flattering.
  • Bianca Jagger can get away with a bowler hat topping her pants suit (her airport look).  For the rest of us, a floppier hat exudes more glamor!

* Jagger photos from Getty Images

Friday, July 16, 2010

TRESS DISTRESS

In the summer months, our beauty routines get simplified.  Days at the beach or poolside leave us preferring the au naturel look.  While skipping the blow drying phase is good for our hair, the stress of sun and chlorine or salt water is not.

Beach-tousled hair (Getty Images)
After interviewing several hair specialists, their advice always came down to this:

Saturate the hair follicle with good stuff before you go out.

This is especially necessary for chemically-weakened hair.  So for you sun- and water-worshippers out there:
  • Soak your tresses in clean water first to saturate the hair follicles
  • This leaves no room for chlorinated or sea water to do damage internally
  • Coating the hair with conditioner gives added protection externally
  • Some products made specifically for hair also coat with UV protection
Towards the end of summer, don't forget to get a hair trim to get your hair back into shape!

Monday, July 12, 2010

SECOND TIME AROUND

A few months ago, I posted a blog on Eco-Friendly Fashion and pointed towards Vintage or High End Consignment Boutiques.  Consignment shops tend to carry unused or slightly used designer items less than 2 years old.  Vintage shops carry period items (say '40s or '50s wear).  Whether Consignment or Vintage, the items are typically in very good, if not excellent condition.

Pre-owned Louis Vuitton Alma purse
from "Its A Girl Thing" in Willow Glen, San Jose


Aside from upholding the Green mantra:

"Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle"

these shops attract Stylistas who are high on taste, low on budget.   They also attract well-heeled shoppers who love the thrill of the hunt for that buried treasure.  The Dressing Room becomes a Girl's Club where ladies who don't know each other give each other thumbs ups (or downs) on pieces.  Style tips are exchanged.  I've even had fellow hunters pull out "just the right shoes" from the shelves to finish my outfit.

In San Francisco, I spent hours trying on stuff at the Goodbyes dressing room with help from impromptu stylists in the next dressing stall.  Goodbyes' 2 shops, across from each other, are nestled among little, upscale boutiques in Laurel Heights.  They are packed with hidden gems at great prices.  Be prepared to stay at least an hour.

Goodbyes in Laurel Heights, San Francisco
Over in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, Ver Unica is a Vintage shop well known for its stock of '40s through '60s items in great condition.  They are pricey but the classic selection is in terrific condition.

Ver Unica in Hayes Valley, San Francisco


Heading 60 miles South on to downtown Santa Cruz, a new high end consignment store called Twist is gaining a following.  They specialize in purses but also carry a small but very carefully-edited selection of new and used clothing plus artisan jewelry.  I've always found wonderful pieces in this little store.



You'll find Consignment or Vintage shops all over the country and all over the world.  They tend to be in upscale neighborhoods or downtown areas rather than shopping malls.   "A Second Chance" was right around my apartment in NYC and was always stocked with the Upper East Side uniform of Chanels.  Across the pond, London has several high end consignment boutiques.  Nice neighborhoods in smaller cities like Denver, Seattle, Vancouver, and more also offer this alternative to Mall shops.

Next time you head out for a shopping expedition, skip the Mall and find one-of-a-kind treasures at these boutiques!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LITTLE WHITE DRESS

When ladies don't know what to wear, they often reach for the Little Black Dress.  But in the summer, the easiest go-to outfit is actually the Little White Dress!  It's cool, refreshing, and feminine.  White looks good on any skin color and can especially highlight a summer tan.  It's infinitely versatile - accessorize or not, it still looks crisp.

The return to minimalism is a welcome direction in fashion.  We are back to more tailored classics, as opposed to trendy, which means we can use them for years to come.

Calvin Klein and Celine, under Phoebe Philo, (see the blog Neutral Territory) showed clean, wearable lines in their white dresses.

Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2010

Celine Spring/Summer 2010

More romantic types may prefer more frills, like this flapper summer dress from J. Crew.

J. Crew dress (from www.jcrew.com)

Younger trendsters with slim legs can pull off these flounced mini-skirts popular these days.  Chloe's multi-tiered eyelets add visual interest and texture to an otherwise plain white tank top.
Chloe skirt (from www.polyvore.com)

I bet most of you already have some crisp, white staples in your wardrobe.  Time to give it another whirl this summer!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

This is one of the biggest holidays in the United States.  Most people will be having poolside barbecues or heading to the beach.  Whatever your plans are, enjoy yourself and stay cool!

A great easy look to sport is the white summer dress.  (I will blog more on these summer staples later).  No embellishments required except your sunglasses or a big floppy hat to keep those UV rays away.

Donna Karan (from www.polyvore.com)
I love this full-skirted Donna Karan ramie and elastane blend dress.  The handkerchief hem is interesting and the fabric is cool and comfortable.

Enjoy all those watermelons and fireworks today!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

UNDER COVER

Zanzibar Island (from www.bestholidaydestinations.net)
As the season of pool parties and exotic vacations enters full swing, the most pressing issue becomes:  What cover-up should I pack?  From the exotic drape of a sarong to the surfer vibe of a rash guard shirt, we are faced with a delightful cornucopia of tops to hide under.

One of the best cover-up choices is THE TUNIC.  It is always in style, is nearly universally-flattering to most women and provides instant bohemian glamor.   Depending on the print, it can even transport you straight onto an exotic beach in Zanzibar or put you on a rooftop pool of some hip hotel.  So let's see what choices we can pull from the clothes line:

HIP HOTEL POOL


lacy cover-up for a hotel pool

















If you are at a chic resort, a Sophisticated rather than Bohemian take on the tunic is more appropriate.

The lacy white tunic above, or the embroidered neutral one below, can work well in more sophisticated surroundings.

By the hipster hotel pool, your tunic can look great with some metallic gladiator sandals or beaded, leather flip flops.
embroidered tunic in neutral hue

























 EXOTIC ISLAND RESORT


Pucci-esque print with beading
You can really go wild for color and print in these locations.  The backdrop of turquoise sea, azure sky and flora bursting with colors demands accompaniment.

Bare legs and and bare feet are all you need on the white sands!  Of course, shell-embellished flip flops are a comfortable alternative.

CHOOSING A GOOD FIT 

modern Indian tunic
The right fit ensures not only a functional cover-up but a chic look as well.
  • Make sure the neckline and arm holes are roomy enough for easy pull-overs
  • A deep neckline adds a slimming touch and can give just enough peek-a-boo appeal to your bikini underneath
  • Ensure ample coverage in the rear and front.  Mid-thigh is a flattering length for most people.
  • A slightly tailored fit rather than boxy cut looks more modern and figure-flattering


African print

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SURFER CHIC

Summers in California bring out the tie-dye surfer look in many people - even those who have never hung ten.  You don't need to head to the beach.  Even Target carries tie-dye shirts and skirts on the racks.

Proenza Schouler's Spring/Summer collection took this look to the next level.  Inspired by their surfing days, the design duo tie-dyed neon colors and brought the surfer t-shirt from Beach to City.

Proenza Schouler Spring/Summer 2010
 Here's a look I posted on Polyvore using Proenza Schouler's Surfer Chic dress as well:


Paying designer prices for a Surfer look may seem a bit absurd.  So, I looked around and saw that small boutiques have very affordable versions (certainly under $75) of the Proenza Schouler dress too.   In fact, the one I show here even has slimming gathers at the waist and shoulders.

Affordable tie-dye dress
To sport this Surfer-Gone-Glamorous look:
  • Begin with an above-the-knee tie dye dress in neon colors
  • A chunky heel, like a wedge or platforms, adds weight to the short dress.  To make it more casual, try flat sandals or embellished flip flops.
  • No need to accessorize too much since the tie-dye print is your focal point
  • Just top off with your sunglasses!
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