31 August 2011

An Apparel Affair

"Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style."
~ from Billy Baldwin Decorates

It is the end of August. August is a month I long for every year. By June I've already started saving money and making appointments in my calendar for that last full month of summer. This is not because I'm anxious for its predictable warmth or ready to join my European friends on their annual vacations; it is because it is the moment when the fabulous fall clothing lines begin hitting the stores. Leather, cashmere, wool and fur - for me, seeing the familiar textiles of fall reinvented each year parallels the pleasure of finding new ingredients to play with in my kitchen.

Just so you can begin to understand the strangeness of my outfit obsession, I need to explain that it's not just buying new clothes, it's an adventure in seeking out those pieces that speak to me and fit my style as if they were made for me. It becomes a physical necessity for me to purchase or I will have dreams about it until I do. Fashion is exciting - it's art which I can proudly display as a visual expression of me.

So to kick off this season's tour of textiles, I joined my girls on our bi-annual outing to the world's greatest outlet mall: The Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon, California. Every time we make the morning trek towards Palm Springs to this mile-long mall, there are new stores! Like a magnetic force I cannot pull away from, finding quality pieces at this outlet's prices, is like winning the lottery. There is something about that perfect print or a trendy pleated trouser that provokes an excitement within me similar to that of being handed my first Cabbage Patch Kid when I was 5. (Octavia Roberts - according to her certificate - just like the skirts and shoes I've treasured like trophies throughout my life, is now happily settled in a plastic storage bin for a fun future unveiling.)

My admiration for these items is not because I am materialistic, but because I can remember the feeling each item sparked within me upon discovering it for the first time. So, this is the advice I'm going to pass on to those of my friends who may want a little help in the wardrobe department:

Tip for choosing the right ensemble for you: find and pick apparel that makes you smile or reminds you of yourself.

Some may disagree with my philosophy, but if you put someone in something that they're not comfortable in just because it's trendy, they'll just look uncomfortable. An outfit that causes you to exude confidence - whether it is last season or now - will make you appear confident. Yes, there are some standard rules that apply to picking your wardrobe, like pick something that flatters your own figure or choose colors that enhance your particular skin tones, but aside from following the basics, wear what makes you feel good.

I like to wear clothes that are different. As I do with the design of my home, my favorite way to intrigue is to juxtapose opposites. On our outlet excursion, I chose two Diane Von Furstenberg separates (my favorite prints ever - she is a genius!): the tops is a bold pattern in a loose and flowing form while the bottoms are basic black, tight and high waisted (obsessed with this fit right now as long as it's figure flattering). And I'd like to share a special thank you to my shopping sister Deann for giving me her $50 DVF gift card, because she saw the look in my eye when I found this outfit.

For retro prints and fits, shop Diane Von Furstenberg.

The other outfit I picked was an unexpected pairing of an active-wear striped tank with a skirt suited for power lunching. When the weather gets warmer, I plan to add an edgy jacket to make my work wear more interesting.

Theory is a great store for basics

The girls like to laugh at me, because I tend to steer them into the designer stores, but I need to explain that it is because I honestly create a connection to my clothes. Am I a little neurotic about picking and choosing my wardrobe? Yes. But didn't you expect that? I want to feel like me and look like me in my clothes. My favorite statement to hear from my friends when we're shopping is, "this one looks like you." I am proud that I have a style of my own that's recognizable whether it is in tune with the trends or not, it makes me smile, and I hope that I can inspire you to find a few new fall garments (or maybe summer since it's all on sale right now!) that make you smile.

And don't forget to accessorize! Your attire isn't complete without properly paired shoes.

My MARNI heels - bringing the 70s back with these powerful pumps.

Happy outfitting!

05 August 2011

Summer: Months for Musing & Sushi Making

A whirlwind of joy, a journey home and juggling new clients and fantastic visitors have been the composition of my July. Although, I have missed my readers and fellow bloggers during my month of vacation, I have so much to share from my month of musing that I don't know where to begin! It seems only appropriate for this OCDite to begin at the beginning and tell my summer stories in chronological order, right? So, here is a tale of entertaining my friends before my July journey began.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed my last entry on the "joy of cooking" and maybe even tried my easy tequila chicken recipe, but I know for some, that the thought of cooking only stirs up fear rather than delicious food. So this post is for those of you who love to throw a party, but don't want to do the cooking yourself. This OCDite has discovered a way to satisfy and impress your guests without having to lift a finger in the kitchen!

Tip: Hire a private chef (much more reasonably priced than you might think). Chef Andi Therrien, a personal chef and sushi making master, uses her skills to engage guests in preparing the food, so you don't have to!

Chef Andi Therrien and I showing off my roll
 Now for most, this concept of no cooking makes for super simple planning and gratifying results as a happy host. However, as you've been reading my thoughts for the past few months, you readers may have already guessed that nothing is simple - although, always fabulous - on this OCDite's turf. I just can't plan anything without striving to perfect the details. So, in the timeline below, I will show you the process of how I accomplish the perfect party.

OCDite Party Timeline
  •  Pre-party shopping: I like to shop around for the best deals, and more importantly, the most perfect items. After this particular party, I am now a member at Marakai Market, an Asian-inspired grocery and marketplace in Costa Mesa. Although, Mitsua (one of my favorite and first experiences with Asian markets) has a beautiful selection of food, Marakai stocks its shelves with the other items you might need: Japanese-style bamboo flip flops (a polite and fun way to tell my guests to take their shoes off), printed fans for placeholders and Japanese paper doll bookmarks which I used for name tags.

The perfect party accessories can make a memorable statement

  • Party Set-up: As I finish my make-up, I run through my mental list: 1) light the candles, 2) sweep one last time, 3) finish attaching name tags to the placeholders, and 4) arrange the table and decorations to suit a photo shoot for the cover of Real Simple magazine, because you never know . . .
  • Pre-party Meditation: I use the time while I'm blow-drying my hair to breathe myself out of OCDite crazy time and into relaxed hostess with the mostess.
  • Party Time: Personally greet every guest, and make them feel comfortable (open a bottle of wine, and everyone is happy). Then, and only then, indulge in the experience with your guests, but try not to show your freak-out when someone spills soy sauce on your Peroba wood table.

Beautifully prepared, delicious food is the heart of any party

  • Post-party Cleanup & Calm: By the time I go to bed, it's 3 am, but the dishes are clean, the kitchen is sparkling, the floors are now free of fish roe, and the table linens are washed, dried, and folded neatly back in the linen closet from whence they came. Before sleep, relish in the success of your party, engrain in your mind the smiles and discoveries and even the spills which are now also a memory of the night. And then, pass out.
If you're interested in hosting your own sushi-party, I can't say enough about the memorable experience we had with Chef Andi Therrien. Email her at: chef.andit@gmail.com for your next party.

Fun and festive - a themed party is something everyone will enjoy.
 Happy Hosting!