Hello, Spring!

Get into it, darlings! I couldn’t wait another day for the seasons to change – and with it, my wardrobe! I wear a lot of seasonless pieces (which is easier on the budget), but I’m looking to breathe some new life into my look this year.

Pantone has already declared Radiant Orchid to be the color of the year, but there are numerous other options to play with this Spring, as shown here:

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I’ve already stepped out of my comfort zone by incorporating some rich blue into my life by way of J. Crew, as well as with Essie’s baby blue “Bikini So Teeny” nail polish. And I’m kinda loving it!

Now that we know which colors are haute this season, which trends should you be considering? I rely on Belk’s uber-glam style maven Arlene Goldstein’s trend reports, and this year we can look forward to what she deems “fierce, yet feminine looks with delicate and daring statements.” Her top three style statements this season are the

  • “Jetsetter”- featuring multi-cultural, ikat and camo prints and elements which speak to your spirit of adventure (perfect with the gladiator sandals and flats you’ll be wearing as well!),
  • “Feminine Charms” – exuding  elegance and marked by appliques, florals, lace, sheer fabrics and fit-and-flare silhouettes in white and navy, and
  • “Clean Slate” – for those of you who prefer minimalist chic, geometric elements, classic yet graphic black and white and edgy statement jewelry.

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The only trend I’m not looking forward to? The return of the chunky-heeled shoe. Ugh. But there’s plenty to choose from, and these smoking-haute stilettos from Dolce Vita ($179.99) are on my lust-list.  And as if we needed another excuse to shop, Belk has a Spring Fashion Sale going on now!

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Ready to rock a new trend? Stay tuned: we have a *giveaway* planned for tomorrow!

Images via Belk

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Love. This.

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This Collection Eyelet Jumpsuit (in pink and navy, $298) by J. Crew has “Spring” written all over it. *sigh* One more day to go, darlings…just one more day!

I love the ease of one-piece dressing, and this lovely look will suffice for a variety of occasions.  Jumpsuits can easily read “astronaut in training” or “baby onesie” if the fit is off or if there are too many embellishments. J. Crew gets it right by showing that easy does it…effortlessly.

Image via J. Crew

The struggle is real…

Don’t let this be you! Please buy shoes that actually fit your feet, ladies (and gents!). Pedicures won’t win you an “E” for effort in the shoe game this summer. There is no excuse for making your toes cling for dear life because you wouldn’t go up a size. Even if you ARE wearing Givenchy from head to (miserable) toe, Kim.

**In other news** a little birdy told me Birmingham shoppers can expect both C. Wonder and Madewell to be added to the stores at the Summit this fall (around October); stay tuned for more details!

Product review: Essie’s ‘Tart Deco’

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Even though most of us are still in tights and coats thanks to this wacky weather (temps above 55 degrees, where are you?!), I’m ushering in spring with Essie’s ‘Tart Deco’ nail polish. This color was originally released as part of Essie’s ‘The Art of Spring’ collection in 2010. I love a bright pop of coral, and this which glides on easily and without streaking; it has a satin finish. Something about it just said “Wear me with short, sundresses and sandals!” when I saw it in Target, which has an amazing selection of nail polish. Essie costs $7-8 per bottle, and comes in a variety of bright and subtle shades and finishes. I forgot to get a bottle of my usual fast drying topcoat for this DIY manicure, but here’s a little secret: LA Color’s Rapid Dry nail treatment works just as well in a pinch, and can be found at Dollar Tree!

Chic Essential: The Caftan

We’re not talking muu-muus here.  Caftans (and tunics) are to your spring and summer wardrobe what sheath dresses are for the working girl: a definite must have.  You can throw one on and with minimal effort, you’re basically done.  Whether you choose a pretty pattern or a solid color, an already-embellished version or add your own statement necklace or cuff, you can rock these to run errands, lounge by the pool or beach (they make great swimsuit cover-ups and are easy to pack), or to a backyard soiree.  (Side note: my grandmother LOVES them, and gives longer styles as presents.  They make fabulous hostess gowns and just scream “Have cocktails in the casbah with me, dahling.  Or a daiquiri on the patio. Your choice.”)

Love your legs? Then by all means, bare them: caftans easily mimic mini dresses.  If you’d like more coverage, wear them over shorts, jeans, linen slacks, palazzo pants or leggings.  They’re just that versatile and can go from casual to polished with a change of accessories and shoes.  Wedge sandals, canvas espadrilles, or capri sandals (metallic, brightly colored or bedazzled leather flip flops) are all you need to complete the look.  Be  sure to layer sheer fabrics with a cami underneath, and if the flowy style threatens to swallow you up, belt it!

What’s also lovely is this easy style is flattering on all body types! I am loving the bright, v-neck versions at Old Navy right now, which have slits at the sleeves and hem and are priced just under $20 before tax!  Having tried the orange print on, I advise that you go a size up for comfort and note the polished cotton doesn’t offer any “stretch.”  Want to spend a little more? Tory Burch’s offerings are synonymous with wearable, effortless chic.  And you can always search Ebay or your favorite consignment outpost for groovy vintage options.  If you’re really adventurous and want to break out your sewing machine, you can scoop a vintage pattern via Etsy and create your own!

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Side note: this beaded Victoria’s Secret caftan is now in my closet and is as airy as a summer breeze (it will be worn with white skinnies and shorts).  The black on white Venus Swimwear version mimics the classic Tory Burch pattern and is my new beach cover-up;  it was a steal at $19!

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Ask Alexis: Full-Figured and Fabulous

A fabulous reader and former co-worker recently asked me for options for plus size figures. 

My advice? No matter what size you are, buy items that fit your body and your lifestyle.  Clothes that are too tight or too loose are unflattering, no matter where you fall on the scale.  Play up the features you love: a tiny waist, to-die-for legs, and elegant neck or lovely shoulders.  If you need shapewear to help smooth your silhouette, by all means go for it.  And be sure your bra fits!  Take advantage of the complimentary fittings offered at Victoria’s Secret and buy underpinnings that support your curves. 

Draped and flowy maxi dresses are fine but don’t be afraid to show your curves! Try belting them to emphasize your waist.  If you have a classic coke-bottle shape, work a pencil skirt, or look for classic sheath dresses (also known as wiggle dresses) a la Mad Men’s Joan Holloway or Marilyn Monroe.  These dresses celebrate a fuller figure; check out Monif C’s Whitley” dress.  I advise against box pleats, bows or bulky pockets at the hip; sometimes they can add more visual weight to your look.  I suggest opting for softer pleats and gathering, as well as ruching.  Ruching is great because it camouflages problem areas and can create an hourglass figure.

When buying denim, make sure the hem falls long enough to cover about half of your shoes’ heel, and try fabrics with a touch of stretch.  Looking for a pair made to flatter curves? Check out Cj by Cookie Johnson (founded by Magic Johnsons’ wife and Hunstville native Cookie Johnson), which “offers more room in the thighs and derriere and comes up a bit higher in the back than most lines.”  Watch for waistbands that gap on pants; if something fits perfectly  in the rear and leg, have the waist taken in by a tailor.  Looking for flattering leggings? Try  ReDress NYC’s “teggings”: the hybrid tights+leggings boast a “stretchy, wearable fit” and “can be worn all day without slipping or sliding.”  And they’d be super cute under the retailer’s Cozumel Chevron tunic.  Want to emphasize your neckline?  Look for v-necks; they play up your decolletage beautifully. 

Check the length of your blouses; they should fall at your hip line.  Blazers continue to be chic for Spring, but make sure you aren’t selecting jackets that are boxy or shapeless; they add pounds!  Check the darts and seaming and be sure the jackets have more of a fitted shape.  Or try an open draped cardigan over a tank: with a necklace and jeans, you’re ready to go.

If you feel unsure about a stiletto heel, try a platform or wedge, like this one from Torrid (they also have cute clothes!).  Shoes should fit comfortably;  your feet shouldn’t bulge or strain against any straps.  No matter what size you are, you should be able to stride or sashay with confidence.  I also suggest opting for belts; they can create the illusion of a waist if you’re “straight up and down” like me, or to accentuate a small one.  And don’t skimp on jewelry: draw the eye to a bold statement necklace, cuff bracelet or earrings (but not all of the above simultaneously). 

Hands down some of the cutest pieces I’ve seen thus far are Monif C.’s convertible dresses.  They don’t compromise fabric choice or silhouette and although they range from $195 to $235, the designer promises “infinite possibilities” in terms of styling the dress.  Monif C. also invites you to sign up for their monthly $100 gift certificate giveaway!  The figure-flaunting dresses come in a rainbow of colors and are in a word, glamorous.    I also love ASOS Curve, which offers  well-tailored, trend-conscious pieces. 

Finally, check out fab designer Isaac Mizrahi’s tips HERE.  No matter what your size or price point, you shouldn’t have to settle for subpar style.

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Straight from the A: Spring Fashion Haute List

The weather is heating up and so is spring fashion! Make sure you read these tips so you don’t become fashion roadkill! And special thanks to the Roy Wood Jr. Morning Show!

DO: Wear trends the second time they pop up, but be sure to update the look. You can’t wear it the same way the second time. Make sure your footwear and accessories read fresh and modern, not “blast from the past”. (ex: friendship bracelets, colored denim)

DO: Upgrade your jewelry into something bright and big. DON’T wear a million pieces though; have one main conversation piece.  And if you are still wearing pink ice, contact me immediately for support.

DO: Try a crop top, but don’t expose your belly button!  Show a hint of skin by wearing it with a high waist skirt or short.

DO:  Try wearing a high-low or mullet hem skirt or dress.  That’s right—it’s short in the front and long in the back! Make sure your shoes aren’t clunky!  Keep them delicate.

DO: Wear something neon.  But don’t blind us!  Try a pop! of color with your belt, shoes or handbag.

DO: Go for bohemian chic with airy fabrics and crochet.  But keep in mind that there should be an opaque layer underneath see-through fabrics so your “business” isn’t exposed.  Please consider a slip (or cut off a pair of fleshtone pantyhose to wear underneath.)

DO: Fellas, it’s almost summer, summer, summertime!  But you won’t impress anyone in a color-coordinated shorts set with gators.  Go for yachting or boating chic in linen shorts, seersucker and boating shoes or casual loafers.

DO: Reassess your makeup and fragrance.  If you tan, you may need to adjust your foundation shade.  And if you wear cologne or perfume, adjust the amout you apply, as the rising temps and changing body chemistry may affect its potency.  No one wants to smell you all the way around the block!

DO: try color-blocked accessories, peplum waists and hyperflorals! But not all at once.

DON’T: Those large black-framed eyeglasses without an Rx…why?!

DON’T: Weard hite shoes and pumps.  They aren’t flattering to ANYONE.  Need I say more?

DON’T: Wear denim on denim; try monochromatic COLORS instead!  Pastels are a definite DO; mint green, blush, orange sherbet and baby blue are haute on both ladies and gents.

DON’T: black lipstick or lipliner…why?!

DON’T: Rock finger waves or French rolls.  Soft hair is in.

DON’T: Please retire your jeggings.  They just look weird with no zipper and those faux pockets.

DON’T: Feather earrings and hair extensions are over. Just let them go.

DON’T: High-heeled sneakers during any season or Timberlands when it’s warm outside. Please and thank you.

DON’T: Insist on showing “VPL” and exposed bra straps (during any season).  Buy something seamless and/or strapless to wear underneath clingy fabrics.  Likewise, sagging pants and leggings without a top that covers your hind end…no one wants to see your butt. Trust me.

DON’T: Bieber hair, mohawks on males over the age of 6, and half shaved heads on women. What works for Rihanna and Cassie may not work for you. Please.

DON’T: Long, pedicured toe nails…WHY?! And: please don’t just polish your big toes and stop; do all ten!  If you have missing toenail, most salons can add a fake.

DON’T: Over-coordinate (i.e. red hair, red purse, red necklace, red belt, red shoes, red nailpolish and lipstick) You’re welcome.

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Pink Ladies

Tyra channels Marilyn at the recent Time Inc. 100 Gala  Or is it just me? Minus the bodacious butt bow and gloves, of course.

I think I like Marilyn’s haute pink version better.

And speaking of  thinking pink…what do you think of Lauren Conrad’s fuchsia ponytail? I kinda love it!   Check out the lovely deeper shade with ombré effect on Ashanti (and how Nelly coordinated!).  The hues each lady chose flatter their complexions, and their makeup is flawless! There’s a major difference between what these ladies are working and the clown colors others are rocking (names are withheld to protect the guilty!).  Note how complementary shades are used to pull off such a risky look, and also note: these ladies are in the entertainment and fashion/beauty industries.  A more subtle use of hair color is highly recommended for those of us in more conventional occupations.

Images via AP, Jon Kopaloff/Film Magic (by way of People) and YB&F

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Give Rainy Weather the Boot!

April showers may bring May flowers, but they can also ruin your flats, booties and stilettos!  So why not invest in a super cute pair of rubber rain boots (also known as wellies, because they were named after the Duke of Wellington)?  Whether you opt for a solid color in a neutral or bright shade (I’m loving Hunter’s bright pink pair), grab a patterned pair in polka dot or houndstooth, or let your inner fierce kitty roar in leopard, these boots will keep your feet dry.  If you don’t like flats, there are even wedge versions available.  And they’re suited for jumping into a puddle, if you get the urge. 

Find your own pair at local retailers like Belk and Macy’s, big box stores like Target or online at Zappos.com.  How to wear them?  I love to keep it casual; I wear my Coach pair with leggings or denim. And to be honest, I wear them even when it isn’t raining, because they’re extremely comfortable and IMO, a little more pulled together than Uggs.  How to keep them nice and shiny? Well, to remove the film that often appears on rain boots after they’ve gotten wet, spray with Armor All  Original Protectant (yes, the same kind used to clean your dashboard) and wipe off with a clean, soft towel.

If rain boots are just not for you, be sure to waterproof your shoes.  Fab Sugar offers a quick tutorial here.

Image via Zappos

A Word to the Wise

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again gentlemen: leave the candy-colored zoot suits and Kool-Aid gators at home.  Break out a seersucker, grey or tan suit this weekend instead.  Play it understated, or have fun with a checked shirt and coordinating tie, a la Steve Harvey (no, I can’t believe I’m using him as an example either) at the Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man premiere this past week. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

You’ll thank me later.  And check out The Sartorialist’s take on how a suit should fit (this won’t apply to those of you who like a fuller cut).

A note on footwear: classic lace-ups or wingtips look great with a suit in a solid fabric.  And by all means, wear bucks with your seersucker.

Images via KRC Apparel and G. Paras Photography

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