Monday, January 31, 2011

Shopping Expedition: January 2010 - Nordstrom

Note:  Thanks to some issues I've been having with Blogger, coupled with out-of-town travel and being sick, this post was actually written nearly two weeks ago.  I'll follow up with another, sparkly new one very soon!  Meanwhile, enjoy this one - it's still relevant and I'm still dreaming about some of the clothes!

Recently, I found myself with a rare opportunity – I had some time to kill… at the Mall of Insanity (America)!  Which means, of course, yay shopping!  Usually, I am running around like a crazed woman on a mission when it comes to shopping.  Even when I’ve allotted a certain amount of time per store, it’s easy to get off-track and find yourself throwing clothes on and off like a possessed chick in a desperate race against that 7:00 PM dinner reservation.

Coming straight from work, I was sans automobile.  But not to fret!  Minneapolis is home to a maze of skyways, which I call the Hamster Habitrail (hmm, I sense a theme bar idea).  Considering we just had a low of -16 degrees Fahrenheit last Friday, minimal exposure to the outdoors right now is ideal.  So I made like Fluffy and took to the habitrail, which then dropped me right across the street from the light-rail (can't escape the outdoors completely, I guess).  This in turn deposited me at the mall with about 45 minutes to spare.  Oh, 45 glorious minutes of retail freedom. 

Where to go?  Where to go?  My friend had a ball at the As Seen On TV store.  I could score a mini John Deere tractor at that place that sells farm toys.  Glamour Shots?  LoveSac (Really?  I mean...  really?)?

Nah, I'm boring.  I bee-lined straight for Nordstrom, breezing through the shoe department and heading up the escalator to check out the clothes.

As I’ve mentioned, retailers have decided Spring is here (they totally ignore the meteorologists and Mother Nature).  I’d been lamenting to a friend that most of the trends were falling flat with me, those high-waisted flare jeans topping my “Not so much” list.  But I had to check out the newest arrivals anyway…  clothes always look different in person than via a bunch of pixels.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of pretty things, although most of my choices weren't exactly screaming "Spring!"  Before I knew it, I was hauling at least a dozen items into a dressing room.  I had checked my phone – still about 20 minutes to go.  No sweat, right?  Ack, as we all know, those 20 minutes ended up flying by.  I was late to meet my friends.  I don't think I even tried on the last two tops I'd brought in.

Here are some of goods, all lined up and ready to go:

The following made my "Mir Gefaellt Es" list.

This dress from Nanette Lepore caught my eye for its great color and graphics.

Tried on in person, the pockets of this dress just draped kinda weird on me.  So that was a no-go.

Vince is offering a fab leather dress.  I always appreciate clean lines and a minimal design.  But the color automatically made me leery, since I suspected it would clash with my skin tone.  I grabbed it anyway.  You never know, right?

Um, right.  Looks great on the model with ivory skin (I'm sure the correct lighting helps).  Me = meh.  Even the super-nice saleslady at Nordstrom dismissed it due to the unfortunate color juxtaposition.  Also, as both photos show, the A-line translated into a somewhat boxy, paper sack fit.

Undeterred by the clash of the tans, I had picked up a gorgeous leather jacket, also by Vince.

Hey - the color looks the same both on the model and me!  Surprisingly, this jacket looked better on me than the dress.  Generally the same khaki-ish hue.  But for whatever random reason, it was more flattering.  Medefinitelylikes.

Dashing Elizabeth & James blazer.  A little bit equestrian.  Sorry, no pic of me wearing this one.  I'd already veered into the "Oh crap, I'm so late I need to hurry nownownow!" phase.

Great top just begging to go to a cocktail party from Helmut Lang

Finally, I couldn't resist grabbing this lovely M Missoni dress off the rack.  They have such beautiful fabrics and color adjacencies (wow, I know there is a better way to state that but my brain can't manage).  Not sure why, but it called up images of the 1920's and 1930's.  I'm not a fashion historian, so apologies if I'm in the wrong era.  Whatever decade it conjures, I really enjoyed this dress.  I could see myself reaching for this number as soon as the occasion presented itself (What?  A trip to the food co-op doesn't count?).

To everyone’s surprise, and my wallet’s vast relief, I walked out of Nordstrom empty-handed.  Part (OK, most) of this is due to the fact that I loved the spendiest threads but do not have the cash to drop $700+ on a dress or jacket.  Also, I was a good 20 minutes late to happy hour by this time.  Thankfully, the HH organizer is none other than my good friend Annie, who also happens to be my main partner in retail crime.  She was very understanding of my tardiness due to dressing room overkill.  Even so, I was raised to be punctual.  Must be the German in me!

I'm still coveting the M Missoni dress and Elizabeth & James jacket.  I'd add the leather Vince jacket to the list, but I need another one of those like I need another foot of snow around here.  So I had to pass on that.  Besides, like the dress, it wasn't exactly a steal.

Armed with the camera phone pics, which help me sort out and reaffirm my thoughts from the dressing room, they at least provide a reminder of what made the cut.  And while I highly doubt these pieces will ever see the sale rack (especially the dress, boo-hiss)...  if I do see them marked down, I might just spring for it.  That season is right around the corner, after all.

Photo credits:

Clothes on rack - own
Nanette Lepore dress -
Vince leather dress -, own
Vince leather jacket -, own
Elizabeth & James jacket -
Helmut Lang top -
M Missoni dress -

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here's To All My Ladies In The Field...

Today’s posting is about footwear. 

But it’s not about these:

Or these…

And definitely not these!

Rather…  it’s about footwear that you can wear to a destination not of plush carpeting and  chandeliers, but floors of exposed rebar and lighting that we shall describe as dynamic (welding sparks falling around you from above – very romantic, til your hair catches fire).  Champagne cocktails and loads of clothes?  Nope, just a sludgy concoction of wet concrete and lots of dudes.

So, this post is dedicated to all you ladies in the field, as in...  the rough, rugged, and sometimes sketchy, construction field!

As I described in my third posting:

Unfortunately, my work travels don’t so much include fabulous shopping expeditions, but rather  picking my way through construction sites, trying not to trip over a bundle of rebar or get run over by a dump truck that’s hauling ass across gravel.  A montage of concrete, steel studs, cranky contractors, swack, and port-a-potties.  And lots of dust and dirt.  All over your shoes, in your hair and, really, up your nose.

After I dragged my precious, if somewhat beat up, Aerosoles to a jobsite this past summer, I realized I needed to get with the program and buy some footwear more appropriate for the job.  I was wearing fashion boots, for crying out loud.  Pleather fashion boots.  Apparently, I didn't care about my promising ballet career (heh, I jest) because, should I step on a nail or have a pile of cast stone fall on my feet, well...  so much for my goal to try pointe classes this year (hmm, maybe I really don't care about killing my feet).

Like most women I know, I asked the experts:  my girlfriends.  I am lucky to have a number of gal pals who are also well-acquainted with my experiences.  They are architects, engineers, construction managers, and interior designers.  Smart, fun and, yes, fashionable ladies who were very excited to provide feedback when I sent out the email plea for jobsite shoes.

So far as I know, there aren’t any designer workboots,  although I suppose the collaboration between Jimmy Choo and Uggs lends itself to the speculation of future mash-ups.  Thus, I can’t show you anything from Lanvin or even Nine West with an ASTM safety rating.  However, the following shoes at least give me some options.

This first pair was lauded by my structural engineering girls.  Often, they are out on the site at the very beginning of a project, when all that surrounds them are gigantic slabs of concrete walls and a helluva lot of very, very heavy steel.  Oh, and lots of dirt.  They need to be wary of all sorts of hazards, much of it lying on the ground.

Herewith is the rather technically named “2326 Six Inch Women’s Boot.”  Sexy, no, but it means business, and so do we.  Made by the very dependable Red Wing Shoes, on whose website you can search for shoes by safety requirement!  The simple design includes a steel toe, an extremely rugged sole, and that all-important ASTM rating.

The Red Wings are kind of pricey, and there was a whole debate from my friends about just how serious of a shoe I needed to buy.  So some other options were offered.

Hiking boots were a popular answer to my question.  Fairly sturdy in construction, yet a little more forgiving than the hardcore Red Wing workboots, these are probably a more desirable pick for those of us who aren’t on-site all the time.  A couple of friends swore by their Keen boots.  Here are a couple ideas a friend sent to me, from, a company catering to active, outdoorsy people.

The Pyrenees Hiking boot

And the Petaluma

Mary Janes are good if you’re in a fairly finished environment.  As in, the walls and roof are up, the finishes are mostly applied, and you don’t have to worry about stepping on nails, spikes, hacked bits of CMU and the like…

A couple other brands were mentioned, including Dansko, Doc Martens, and even Skechers.  By the time I’d checked out the Keens and admired the Red Wings, I was sort of done with the whole search.

Ultimately, I sided with Keen and snagged these guys - the Voyageur Mid:

Nice and structural, right?  Also, I liked the light blue accent on the neutral shoe.  Hey, I gotta have a little bit of fun design in my workboots.  Another plus is that these are quite light, which is great for keeping your luggage from weighing like a ton of bricks.  One of my fellow dude coworkers recently lamented how darn heavy his boots were.  Not mine!

So…  while the above shoes might look a little out of place here:

And here…

They look just right here…

And that works just fine for me and my friends.

Are you lucky enough to be a gal who spends time on construction sites like me?  Is there a go-to boot or shoe you call your dependable?  Let me know!

Photo credits:

Jil Sander boots - The Outnet
Elizabeth & James booties - my own
"Dogboots" - OK, these came from Shopbop but when I checked back recently to link them, they no longer appear... 

Redwing & Keen shoes are as noted

Restaurants, hotel lobby and construction site images - my own

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday = Random Funny

It’s time for a quick post of random fun!  It's Friday, after all!  While the snow falls outside for like the 147th time this winter, here are some goofy images to take my mind off the eternal state of slippery roads, ice dams, and snow snow SNOW.

To start off, a couple of great pictures from a place that doesn’t see much snow – Austin, Texas.  Courtesy of the University of Texas School of Architecture’s website, with a caption that reads:  The pre-final exam tradition continues....  On Friday, December 3, between noon and 1:00 p.m., pedestrians crossing Guadalupe Street at the West Mall entrance to campus had the opportunity to grab a foam sword and battle their way to the other side. The event is organized by students in the School of Architecture.


I totally want to!

Boy, I don't remember having this opportunity while I was a student there.

Moving along, this little sweetheart appeared on my friend’s Facebook page last night.  It thoroughly made my day.

What does it mean?  No idea.  Don't need to know.

And I missed my chance to snap up this snazzy hat!  (I've been on the hunt for a great panda hat...  one that is cute but not cutesy...  and NOT one of those Spirithoods that are currently all the rage).  Found not at a boutique or some hipster arty store, but at a gas station near the Iowa/Minnesota border.  My husband actually spotted this and snapped a photo of it.  He said he nearly bought it for me.  Unfortunately, it didn't fall into my limited line of sight between the entry doors and the ladies' room, for if it had been, I'd now be sporting it, in all its kinda sketchy, random Midwest gas stationy, too-big-for-my-noggin glory.

I know, it's scary-looking.  I like that.

Well, it's time for me to depart into the wintry mix - just a quick dash across the street to a fabulous Irish bar for a friend's birthday (for whom I bought a card that says "Happy 70th Birthday!"  He's only turning half of that; I figured the card would make him feel younger and better...  right?).

I promise a return to all things fashion soon...

Happy Friday!

Photo credits: 

UTSOA images - Mike Farmer, per the website
Raccoon and cat - my friend Laura's Facebook page (origin unknown)
Scary panda hat - my husband


Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Better in Red

Well, hello there!  Happy New Year, of course!  I hope you all got to celebrate with a nice dinner and a toast of bubbly, whether at home or a crazy party.  We enjoyed dinner with friends at Masa, a great upscale Mexican spot here in Minneapolis.  After that, we cabbed it over to our friends’ home in time to ring in 2011 with champagne and an impromptu dance party.  There was Depeche Mode.  There was Pet Shop Boys.  Plus some bhangra and Beyonce, just to mix it up.  It was the biggest workout I’ve had since, um, awhile.  Yeah, let’s just say “awhile.”

Anyhoo, it’s January.  As you know, those darn retailers are already flaunting their resort collections.  While I look forward to at least two more months of snow, ice, and looking like a pizza roll in my down coat, everyone from Neiman Marcus to the Gap seems to be showing off happy-looking models prancing around in sandals, bikinis and sundresses in vibrant hues.

They’re surrounded by sunshine and sand.  I’m surrounded by ice dams and a whole lot of the color white.

So, this posting is dedicated to some recent online finds in my favorite color:  red.  It's the color of some of my beloved clothes (Susana Monaco tops, Eva Franco dress), my choice of wine (carmeneres, malbecs and big, ol' cabs please), and probably my face after standing outside for 5 minutes these days (Eh?  You said my husband claims it's not the cold making my countenance burn bright, but my Irish temper?  Psssht, ignore him ;)

Thanks to my poor Grandmas, who gave up on trying to figure out what to buy me anymore, I do have a little bit of Christmas spending power.  I’d love to add something bold and fiery-colored to offset the total winter blahs which taunt me everywhere I turn.

As I might have mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Shopbop, the successful online appendage of the Madison, Wisconsin-based store called Bop.  Here are some new offerings that caught my eye:

Simple but fun, from Alice + Olivia...

Here's a beautiful, drapey dress from Issa in a rich plum-red color, although probably too short (without pants) IMOFO*:

Slinky little number from Elise Overland:

 Cute shorts from Alice + Olivia:

 And howzabout this great leather shift from Jenni Kayne?  Love it.

Revolve is also one of my go-to sites.  Check out a couple of these items:

Great wrap dress from Winter Kate:

 Great deep red top courtesy of Velvet (I'm also diggin' those sweet shorts):

I really do love Trina Turk dresses!  This color is a bit more "tomato-ey" but I appreciate how bright it is without crossing over into neon-world.

For a dose of cute AND warmth, you could snap up this fun See by Chloe hat from the Outnet:

And, stupid Saks has to send me one of those "Just For You" emails with these drop-dead fabulous Jimmy Choos.  I rarely covet luxury labels (as in, it sure is pretty, but I'm not dropping that much cash).  However, this one makes me think about crossing over to the dark side, even if for a moment:

Even the emails from retailers look all snazzy, like this one from Bergdorf Goodman (yes, that's Lanvin):

I am happy to say I own the following, which perk up my wardrobe nicely:

Got this gorgeous Theory top on sale recently- score!

Also snagged this Biba dress on sale a couple of years back.  I wear it constantly, summer and winter; it fetches quite a lot of compliments.

Here's the dress on an actual person**:

It may be winter for the next few months, but I’m determined to try and strut through it just like those “I’m-in-Miami/the Caribbean/anywhere warm-and-you’re-not-HAHA” models; no slogging around, head down for me!

Before I return to my online retail stalking, tell me...  what color cheers you up most during the winter?  Any hue in particular this year that you’re especially coveting?

Wishing you a wonderful new year,

*  What's "IMOFO?"  In My Old-Fart Opinion.  I ain't a 20 year-old college kid no more :)

**  Why does the "actual person" lack a head, you ask.  Um, because that's me, and I'm kinda camera-shy.  I thought it would be fun to show some of the items I own on a regular gal instead of relying on perfectly-poised website models.  Quite frankly, I'm still trying to figure out how to strike the right balance of personality and privacy on here.  More on that later...

Photos credits: 

First batch - Shopbop (as noted)
Second batch - Revolve (as noted)
See by Chloe hat - the Outner (as noted)
Jimmy Choo heels - Saks Fifth Avenue (as noted)
Lanvin email - Bergdorf Goodman (as noted)
Theory top - Shopbop
Biba dress - Revolve, my own photos