Category Archives: Style Assessments & Advice

Fashion Focus Chicago, 2012

Fashion Focus Chicago, 2012

Today kick started Fashion Focus Chicago, a week-long celebration the City has organized to encourage and promote the fashion industry within Chicago. A variety of free/affordable events are taking place all throughout the city, including special shopping events, professional-development seminars, and runway shows featuring showcases by talented Chicago designers.

This is the eighth year the City of Chicago has taken the initiative to support the over 400 gifted designers, 375 independent boutiques, and industry professionals working around town. In past years, I’ve been both a back stage dresser and an attendee to the runway shows taking place at the Millennium Park Promenade and have found the seminars in the City’s Culture Center to be very informative. I’m thankful that the City of Chicago continues to acknowledge the thriving fashion industry here in Chicago and provides these fun and educational events for individuals like me to network and share our industry experiences with others in the field.

Here’s a rundown of some of the events I’m looking forward to over the next seven days…

Monday, Oct. 15th
Dress Code – Tonight was the runway show featuring creations made from the designers of Chicago’s fashion schools: Columbia College, The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, International Academy of Design and Technology, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sadly, I didn’t get a ticket in time to attend this event, but I’m sure it was a creative spectacle by some of the next rising stars!

Tuesday, Oct. 16th

Chicago Fashion Law – A seminar covering the essential legal matters in the fashion industry. Issues that will be discussed include intellectual property, legislation, and current industry case updates; this informative session will provide fundamental knowledge and no doubt, be helpful in your future fashion career.

Wednesday, Oct. 17th

The Designers of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) presented by Macy’s – This runway show is put on by The Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street, a not-for-profit organization that supports new and emerging Chicago-based Designers. The show will highlight the Spring 2013 collections from the programs six current designers in residence, along with a number of alumni’s collections.

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 & 21st

Randolph Street Market’s Modern Vintage ChicagoModern Vintage Chicago is a mix of vintage clothing, jewelry and vanities by style icons such as Halston, Balenciaga, & Chanel and Chicago’s top indie designers. This extension by the producers of the Randolph Street Market fuses the worlds of classics & contemporary, and allows shoppers to appreciate both old-fashioned and the fashion-forward.

** Many of you have read how much I had fun at the Randolph Street Market a few months ago, (https://expressthrudress.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/ranting-about-the-randolph-street-market/ and https://expressthrudress.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/more-from-the-randolph-street-market-festival/) and finally, this festival falls on a weekend that I have no other conflicts. I’ve been waiting since July to go to this unique shopping event again…I couldn’t be more excited for it!

Sunday, Oct. 21st

Visual Therapy: Building a Business – Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo, whom Vogue has deemed “the best personal stylists”, present their brand ‘Visual Therapy’ and entertain a discussion on how they have evolved their business into a national namesake. The Chicago-native success stories will discuss their process & philosophies from wardrobe consulting, publishing 3 books, and launching a brand on QVC. I’ve read all three of their books, Nothing to Wear?, Life in Color, and Work It! (several times actually) and can’t wait to meet the men who wrote what I consider to be “wardrobing manuals” and hear them speak about their success story.

Visual Therapy - Nothing to Wear, Color in Life, Work It

…then, back to Randolph Street Market’s Modern Vintage Chicago for Day #2!!!

Looks like I’ve got a busy week ahead…but I’m looking forward to it!

For a full schedule of Fashion Focus Chicago events please visit: http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/events___special_events/events/mose/fashion_focus_chicago.html

What is Your Signature Piece?

In developing your own personal style you inadvertently come up with a “signature piece”. Your signature piece is something that you wear every day. It may hold some sentimental value to you, or it may just be something that you really like – whatever it is, it’s something that the people close to you can recognize & identify as “yours”. I’ve actually settled on three signature pieces that I wear within my everyday style.

My first signature piece and by far, my most important is my father’s high school class ring. I found it in my mom’s jewelry box at home one day & asked if I could have it. Since the etched gold ring with a sapphire stone was oversized in both style and circumference, I had to have it resized to fit my finger. I wore it a couple times before I made it to the jewelers but had a major scare one night – when it managed to slip off my finger somehow. Thankfully, one of my friends found it on the ground and knew it was mine by my dad’s initials, LVE, engraved on the inside. I remember how my stomach dropped at the thought of losing it forever and I’ve made sure it’s somewhere safe ever since!

Signature Jewelry - Dad's High School Class Ring

On a side note, my sister, Katie, has my mom’s high school class ring that she wears – and she also lost her ring one night.  It fell off her finger while she was trick-or-treating with her daughter and luckily, after back-tracking their steps with a metal detector, they eventually found it among the fallen leaves.

On another note, I remember when I was younger; my grandma lost my late grandfather’s wedding ring in a parking lot in the middle of winter. We went back in the springtime, after the snow melted, and searched for hours. Surprisingly, and thankfully, after several months & snowplows had passed – we eventually found it, untouched & unharmed!!! (Clearly losing jewelry is common in my family – but fortunately, we always manage to get lucky & find it again!)

I wear my dad’s ring almost every day and when I take it off, it feels like something is missing. My mother once said; whenever you’re feeling alone, just rub the stone and you’ll feel close to home….and I do.Signature Jewelry - Dad's High School Class RingMy second signature piece is a single gold forearm bangle. There’s really nothing special about it; I got it several years ago from Arden B as part of a set. I like the etching on it and have worn it so much it’s now just become my routine.

Signature Jewelry - Etched Gold Forearm Cuff

My third and most recently added signature piece is my chain necklace duo. One of the necklaces is a leafless tree pendant necklace with the words, “Remember What is Important to You” engraved on the back, that I got from my parents. It reminds me of the giant tree in my yard on the farm.

Tree on the Farm

I love the symbolism of dormant trees in winter; at a glance they look like their dead…but in the springtime, they grow little buds that flourish into an abundance branches of leaves. One does not always realize the potential beauty when looking at the bare branches, but it’s there, even if it’s not at that moment – it will thrive one day.

*Sadly, when I went to take the photos for this blog, I realized that my tree pendant must have fallen off the chain earlier this week. I still haven’t found it, but hopefully I get lucky like last time.

The other is a vintage bird necklace my sister, Amanda, gave me for my birthday. I’m not going to get into too much detail of why it’s my signature piece because I’m leaving it for another blog :) …but there is a certain symbolism I have for birds as well…

Signature Jewelry - Bronze Bird Necklace

Now that I’ve told you what my signature pieces are, can you identify your own? Better yet – ask your best friend to see if they can pick out what your signature piece is….

The Perfect Mid-September Day for a Seasonal Wardrobe Switch

Today was a pretty productive day for me. I’ve been meaning to do a closet clean-up for quite some time – and today was they day! As I’ve mentioned before that it’s important to go through your wardrobe from time-to-time to make sure that you only have the clothing that you currently wear hanging in your closet (or in my case, folded in my dresser drawers as well).

I’ve also said in the past that I’m a very visual person; I have to see my clothing to remember to wear it, so the majority of my everyday things are hanging out in front of me. However, I still have a dresser that’s filled with casual t-shirts & layering tanks, workout wear and pajamas. Because the bottoms of my drawers have begun to cave-in, I figured it was about time for me to go through what was in them and get rid of some stuff – and since I always seem to wear the same five shirts over & over again anyways.

But getting rid of things can be difficult for some people (and when it comes to me – clothing especially!) I had my best friend over to help me weed out what I should keep & what I should get rid of so I’d actually make some progress on this purge of mine. After keeping all of the American Apparel deep-V neck gym t-shirts I’m obsessed with and separating my sentimental t’s – old Plato Bluejays softball jersey shirts & Hamline gymnastics camp tops from when I was 12, I chose a couple graphic cotton tops to keep and donated the rest. Although, it got a little tough at times – You mean I don’t need 3 pairs of the same shorts in 3 different colorways? Or all of the Harley Davidson t-shirts I collected on a family vaca to Deadwood? I’m happy to say I came up with a garbage bag full clothes to donate…and I no longer worry my dresser drawers are on the verge of collapsing.

My Vintage T-Shirts

Wardrobe Organization

Since I was a roll, I decided to continue with my closet merchandising and get my seasonal wardrobe switch out of the way right away. Seasonal rotations can be fun (because you get to pull out things that have been packed away for months!) but they’re also a lot of work and can take a lot of time. For tips & tricks on performing season switches read my past blog, Ahhh, My Spring Switch is FINALLY Complete, https://expressthrudress.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/ahh-my-spring-season-switch-is-finally-complete/ ,

Transitioning from summer into fall is always difficult for me. Because I love fall fashion so much more, I have a ton more sweaters than I do tiny sheer tops. I only packed away one tote of “off-season summer” stuff compared to the three totes of cozy sweaters I unpacked. Since five sheer shirts equals the size of one heavy sweater and a lot of tank tops stay out year-round & simply be layered with a cardigan I’m doing great on storage space. But that also means that I have some pretty crammed racks full of chunky sweaters. I’ll have to do some rearranging to make room for new fall styles; but after the day is done, I’m happy that I have cut out the clothes I don’t wear, put away the platform pumps I haven’t worn in years (boot-season baby!), stored my summer stuff and pulled out my cords & comfy sweaters.

My Organized Closet

My Organized Closet

My Organized Closet

On an odd note, I was looking back at some of my old blogs, and I noticed that I did my season switch on the 16th of September last year as well. It must be the perfect day to be productive and prepare for fall!

I’m ready for when the weather cools. Are you?

Some Rules Are Meant To Be Broken!!

Monday was Labor Day and if you abide by the old-fashion fashion rules it was technically the last day you could wear white for the season. Everyone has heard of the old-school style “rules”…but does anyone really follow them anymore?

I definitely don’t go by the guidelines carved in stone during my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s era. Fashion is constantly evolving and I think we’ve moved way past these prehistoric fashion “rules”:

1.    You can only wear white Memorial Day through Labor Day.

I know I’m not ready to pack away all of my white clothes for the winter. In fact, I can’t wait to embrace this “Winter White” look styled by Free People when the weather gets cold & the snow starts to fly!

Winter White Outfit - Free People Summer Love Affair Tunic

2.    Your shoes, belt and handbag must always match.

BORRRINGGGGG!!!! Fashion should be fun…and just admit it – being matchy-matchy, is not fun! Accessories are meant to accentuate; so play up your shape with a shiny patent belt, carry an eye-catching handbag, or put on a pair of animal-print pumps. There’s just no reason to wear the classic black-black-black (well, maybe if you have a very conservative workplace, but I don’t know what that’s like).

3.    Never mix black with brown or navy.

Color blocking has been a huge trend during the past several seasons and I don’t think that’s going to change. Dressing head-to-toe in one hue or two, or wearing complimentary colors on the color wheel is completely acceptable.  I usually mix a lighter shade of brown, like cognac, with black as opposed to a darker chocolate brown. And I don’t wear whole a lot of navy; but bottom line, don’t let the color palette prevent you from pairing any pieces together.

4.    You can’t wear suede or leather in summer.

Whoops. I’ve been carrying my Ember Skyy suede fringe bag all summer long and all I’ve gotten is compliments on it.

Ember Skyy - Hunter Green Suede Fringe Handbag

And if this “rule” was true…then these suede fringe sandals shouldn’t have even been produced. I love adding a touch of texture to my outfits and would never allow this to limit me.

Black Suede Fringe Crystal Embellished Sandals

5.    Never mix your jewelry metals.

Whoops again! My everyday arm candy is an accumulation of a gold cuff, a brushed silver watch, a recycled leather band, and all sorts of aged mixed-metal rings. I just pile it all on; and if you wear a piece that already combines gold & silver in that one, it makes doing this even easier.

Mixing Metal Accessories - Gold & Silver JewelryI’ve developed a pretty distinct personal style through the years and I like to create outfits that often push the limits. I realize I am relatively open-minded when it comes to fashion, and personally, I think all of these “rules” are out-dated.

What do you think? Were these fashion myths made to be broken???

Hope you all enjoyed your Holiday weekend!

What’s Your Favorite Fashion Magazine?

September is one of the most important months when it comes to fashion magazines. Despite the print industry’s recent decline in numbers lately due to the ease of looking things up online; the mass media publications continue to produce text-size style guides for fall fashion.

September 2012 Fashion Magazine Covers - Vogue, Lucky, W Magazine, People Stylewatch..

“Fall Smartest Buys”, “629 NEW FALL LOOKS!” and “10 Trends You Can’t Live Without” are just some of the tag lines the glossies use to get you to buy when you’re standing in line at the checkout. The mags recap the runway shows, highlight the emerging fashion trends and offer great shopping tips & tricks for where to find the best buys for fall. They are the go-to guides for what to wear to ensure you’ll be in-style this upcoming season. Each one has its own format – mood boards, stylist’s insights, top 10 lists or pictorial examples.

Personally, I prefer People StyleWatch and Lucky magazine. It’s probably wrong of me to say this (being that I’m in the fashion industry), but I’m not a huge fan of Vogue. I often find all of the luxury advertisements and lengthy articles unappealing to flip through. I’m a very visual person and like to pull inspiration from the pictures I see, so all of that text sometimes turns me off. Also, at this time in my life, I don’t find myself in the same category as all of the luxury lines that typically cover the pages. Yes, I look to see what the high-fashion designers send down the runway every season, but I don’t have the bank account to actually afford buying into any of the collections. One day I’ll be able to buy the expensive lines…but right now, I’m just trying to make my rent!

I can’t wait to see the results!!!

P.S. I’m on the hunt for the August issue of People StyleWatch. I accidentally threw mine away before tearing out some pages I wanted for inspiration. And since the September issues have come out, I can’t find it anywhere! If anyone has one please let me know…