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!

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