10 spring essentials to wear in spring


10 spring essentials to wear in spring

No Comments 11 May 2013

What to wear in spring

What to wear in spring

The best thing about spring is that women of all ages get to wear hats and pastel colors. Spring is summer in its infancy and suddenly one gets the urge to wear childish, pretty, rather innocent clothes. Baby pink is allowed, ankle socks are allowed, bracelets made of candy and flowers in your hair are all cool.

To celebrate the spirit of spring I always rush out and douse myself in an ultra floral perfume: Cacharel’s Anaiis Anaiis or Spring Flowers by Creed will do fine. And I look for a sexy, just-been-kissed pink lipstick. This is the season to make flirty little changes to your wardrobe and inch towards bare legs and freckles. Here are 10 blooming new ideas to inspire you:



How to wear a spring hat

How to wear a spring hat

1. Hats
Try Italian straw worn large and floppy on the brim  and a pencil skirt. A tiny pill box smothered in silk roses, small birds and veiling with a pale blue jersey dress. A cotton beret in an unlikely shade like caramel or khaki with a blue and white striped T-shirt and a polka dot skirt (red shoes optional.)




Spring Earrings

Spring Earrings

2. Earrings
Consider gorgeous dangling Indian hoops smothered in beads. Vintage cameos framed with gold or large paste diamond drops that look like ‘30s Cartier bring the nape into fashion focus and dramatize the eyes. Put your hair up and team this flattering accessory with a very plain cheesecloth dress and a chunky belt or a black jersey T and slim pants. A little bit of Gypsy goes a long, long way. Wear earrings or a peasant blouse or strappy sandals that curl up the calf but not all at once.

3. Wild hair
Giselle has had her way. Everyone wants big, fat, wind-swept hair that looks like it was messed with all night by a gigolo in a Brazilian disco. Simpler yet, pin curl your locks before bed with a spritz of lavender water and unfurl them at daybreak. Big waves twist around two fingers, corkscrew curls use one. Ask your Grandma how.

4. White
Victorian lace camisoles (again!), Prairie Girl skirts, starched white blouses and long, loose parachute pants in cream are the THING this spring. Ralph Lauren teams his white lace skirt with a chunky tooled leather safari-style belt. I like the silk-knotted macramé belts at Jill Stuart and a good old fashioned cowboy buckle applied to an army- issue canvas belt looks great with white. Use monochromes as a backdrop for great accessories. Love it with a turquoise Native American necklace. Love it with vintage Bakelite.

5. Textured leather
Bags that are tooled and studded look great with white and even better with black and khaki (for evening). Dig through Mom’s supply of handmade leather belts and shoulder bags. Cut some pieces yourself – look for materials in craft stores — and make a bandage bracelet in tones of gold and chocolate brown.

6. Bright pastel makeup
Crazy chameleon color is back. Pistachio and aqua blue for the eyes. Candy pink for the lips. The way to wear it is sheer. Just a dust on the lids with lashes of brightly colored mascara (electric blue is more subtle than you think!). A nice pale pink blusher and go bold with the lips. If you can’t flirt in spring when can you?

7. Monumental handbags
Handbags are chunky this spring. Heavy with dangly macramé knots or sculptural with fabulous hunks of semi-precious stone. Since no one can afford an Yves Saint Laurent solid turquoise clutch, head directly to vintage internet sites such as www.La Pochette.com’ and good old eBay. Sixties bags adorned with shells and wooden beads abound.

8. Clever T-shirts
Tailored T-shirts look modern when you add to them. Take a sky blue scooped neck T-shirt with narrow sleeves to the elbow (think leotard tight but not shiny) and wear it with a bright red silk man’s tie, a pastel pink polka dot bow tie, a white Victorian lace collar or a strip of pale green lace knotted like a scarf.

9. Espadrilles
In white with a bit of a heel, the espadrille looks cool with a denim A-line skirt and pretty with a lace-trimmed evening dress. Fake tan heightens the illusion of Capri and St. Tropez circa 1976.

10. Holly Hobby prints
A touch of Liberty print along the hem of a skirt, in a blouse or in a sweet little wrap dress offset with cowboy boots or a high heeled Mary Jane pump (ala Marc Jacobs) is naughty but nice.

10 terrific ways  – What colour should you wear


10 terrific ways – What colour should you wear

No Comments 11 May 2013

Colourful clothes

What colours should i wear ?

Where have all the colors gone? Twenty-three years ago it was deemed perfectly acceptable to paint your eyelids like a parrot with lemon yellow on the brow bone, bright purple on the lid and electric-blue eyeliner to top it all off. I remember looking like a cross between Zandra Rhodes and Deborah Harry of Blondie, and wanting to be a Technicolor punkette. I went to dance-supply shops in search of cherry-red opaque stockings as well as stacking fluorescent anodized metal bracelets up my arms in homage to the B-52′s.

Why am I subjecting you to this retro reverie? Because, gentle reader, every hysterical color trend I can recall is back. From Day-Glo orange chiffon to fierce fuchsia lip gloss, the plastic rainbow of the early ’80s palette is now hot and black is no longer instantly cool.

“Thank Heavens!” I hear you cry as you stuff ink-colored cardigans and sad black slacks into Hefty bags, but I quickly hear you add, “Now what?” How does a woman teach herself to sport a spot of color after wearing a black suit to work, a black cocktail dress to dinner and a black negligee to bed for almost two decades? After being so long in the dark, color feels weird…something like theme dressing.

Start with baby steps. Replace some of your basics (even one of those little black skirts!) with a reliable wardrobe element in brilliant color. A scarlet pencil skirt looks sexy with a crisp white business shirt, a pale-pink blazer with a white tank looks fresh. Even cargo pants look better in color, especially if they’re made of satin.

Buying accessories in color takes a bit of training—there’s a reason that tangerine handbags are always on sale. Unless you dress in all-white with tan leather accents, they look anachronistic. Hot-pink pumps or violet camisoles used to be associated with our daughters’ dress-up boxes, but now they are the height of chic. Uncork the pink champagne and legalize forest-green mascara! Now is the moment to wear a shade you have always secretly craved: That purple cashmere sweater, the baby blue Donna Karanpolka-dot dress, the slightly kooky lemon-yellow caftan with white Moroccan trim. And yes, Pucci!

If you need more bolstering about banishing black and becoming a child of the rainbow, consider these five points: Black is slimming but aging, black drains the color from your face, black attracts pet hair, black makes people act way too seriously, black causes you to disappear in the lobby of any train station or opera house.

10 terrific ways to wear color

Women of color: African-American, Asian, Native-American, Latina…all gravitate to white in summer. It’s the shade that offsets shiny black hair and glossy dark skin the best. But why not tiptoe into a little lemon yellow? Bite into some poppy-pink lip gloss or a radical slick of violet liquid liner with Laura Mercier Shimmer Eye Color in Iris and that wild Missoni bikini. Don’t shy away from fire-engine red (especially flattering to skin with yellow and olive tones), pale lavender and bright purple (best with dark brown and rich coffee complexions) and the new fluorescent limes, yellows and cotton-candy pinks that suit just about everyone.


Colours for redheads

Colours for redheads

Redheads: Vamps with flaming manes are not doomed to wearing St. Patrick’s Day green and burned orange forever. Icy pastels like mint green and aqua lift a pale, freckled face into the heavens and sheer color on the cheeks and eyes in shades of ice pink and sky blue lend an angelic hue to already delicate features. Redheads canwear red lipstick, it just has to be the right tone and the right texture. Steer away from lipstick with too much blue in it (better for brunettes) or too much matte density. Pinkloves you, so gravitate to make-up and clothes with a rosy hue. Color-correct high coloring with a translucent powder tinged with green or go the opposite route and play it up. On a summer’s day there’s nothing sweeter than a natural blush!

Colors to Wear for Blondes

Colors to Wear for Blondes

Golden girls: Blondes have much more fun out of the honeyed beiges and buttered shades of straw they so frequently wear. Try a little mermaid style in pistachio and pale lilac. Dare to wear a hot-pink halter or some cherry-red sandals. Be bold with your clothes and accessories, but go softly into color for makeup. Red lipstick and heavy blue eye-shadow are not for the flaxen, the look is too blunt for you and too blatant. Opt for a faintly ’80s pouty-pink lipstick like Laura Mercier Sheer Lipcolor in French Lips.




electric blue brunette

Colors to Wear for Brunettes

Brunettes: Raven-haired beauties corner the market on radical color options. They can and should wear electric blue. They should all rent Cleopatra and check out Elizabeth Taylor’s radical cream shadows, peacock eyeliner and metallic turbans. Inspired, I tried purple eyelids (Lancôme Color Focus eye shadow in Electric Dream) and a streak of turquoise on the lower lid (L’Oreal On the Loose Shimmering Powder in Diva Down) and still dodged an arrest at the hands of the fashion police. The joy of dark hair and very pale skin is the contrast it lends to makeup and to clothes. Work it with ruby-colored lips, a royal blue and white striped t-shirt, white cargos and a bright red high heels.

Create a white-out: Ban white underwear! Ban white tank tops, ban white bedding, white walls, white teacups and white curtains. Start with your wardrobe and work your way into the rainbow for your home. Nothing looks better than a girl in a green dress holding a blue cocktail against a pink wall. Here’s a secret: Pink light bulbs make you see your thighs through rose-colored glasses!

The eyes have it: Do your sunglasses need to be black or tortoiseshell? Do your eyes have to be blue every day of the week? I always thought pink cat-eye frames were for Grandma and tinted contact lenses were for exotic dancers but hey, lighten up! Have violet eyes for a week and see what happens to you.

Fabulous footwear: Shoes are the simplest way to add color to your wardrobe. With a white dress you can wear any shade from lemon to guava. Buy some bright shoes in a disposable style—some kick-on mules or Indian embroidered slippers, and then grow bolder. The sales racks are the best place to head for tropical toes…and remember gold evening sandals never ever go out of style.

Exercise some color caution: Beware of wearing Technicolor prints head-to-toe à la Austin Powers. A squaresilk scarf, a silk shell or a floppy beach hat might be just enough of a wild print. Don’t let the rainbow eat you whole!

Rise to the challenge: Magenta, lime green and bright orange are probably the hardest shades on earth to wear well. Slip them into your existing style with a wide belt, awedge heel, a handbag or raincoat. Lining in electric color is sweetly chic! Give yourself a thrill every time you step into the drizzle or go searching for a cell phone.

Face it: Always wear color near your face…whether it is three strands of glittering Venetian beads, a Hermes plissé scarf, a broad grosgrain ribbon or a loosely woven straw hat. Color is not just a fashion accent and a mood lifter it is a supremely flattering substance. So, remember to think pink…or indigo, or topaz, or peach or robin’s-egg blue!

A Brush With Style


A Brush With Style

No Comments 26 July 2011

Let’s brush up your hair-styling options with a fine tooth comb!

Is a hairbrush just that – a brush for styling hair? Not any more! The sheer range of hairbrushes available today can make choosing the right one seem as hard as trying to pick the best from among equally enchanting beauties in a contest or trying to find Mr Right at a Swayamvar. Wait! We can help.

Read this simple primer, and brush buying will never be a confusing affair again.

Hairbrushes are of two kinds:

• Ordinary hairbrushes for grooming

• Specialised brushes for styling

How To Choose An Everyday Brush

• Make sure the brush suits the length and texture of your hair

• Invest in good quality bristles. Bristles can be natural, nylon or a mixture of both.

• Natural bristle brushes suit straight, long, fine hair. They help give the sleek, shiny look without damaging the scalp. Also excellent in helping to calm down the static electricity that can make your hair stand on end.

• Go for a nylon or nylon-and-bristle mix brush if you have thick, wavy hair. These bristles work great on short hair.

How To Choose A Styling Brush

• An all-round styling brush for blow-drying has a design that makes it very easy to clean.

• A round styling brush gives curl to hair when blow-drying. This radial brush is good for all lengths of hair, and adds style and shape to hair.

• A brush with thick bristles is ideal for creating waves and flicks.

• An ordinary flat-backed natural bristle brush is perfect for long, straight hair and for controlling the flyaway effect of static electricity.

• A large round brush with plastic bristles is great for blow-drying.

• A vent brush with vents or holes in the back allows hot air to pass through when you’re using it to blow-dry. This prevents your hair from over-heating. Usually, vent brushes come in cylindrical or rectangular shapes. If you have short or mid-length hair, choose the cylindrical vent brush.

• A brush with rounded beads on the bristle tips is safe to use on damp hair. In fact, these are also called ‘wet brushes’ for that very reason. They don’t scratch or pull at the scalp, and gently brush the tangles out of your tresses.

Brush Care Basics

Just like your towel and toothbrush, your hairbrush should be used exclusively by you. Don’t share it even with your best friend!

• Remove clogged-up hair from your brush regularly, using a comb to lift the jumble. An old toothbrush is a very good tool for getting to the base of the bristles, where the dirt builds up. After lifting the dirt and hair, wash your brush thoroughly with warm water and a little shampoo. Shake off the excess water and let the brush dry naturally.

• Discard a brush that has rough edges or split bristles.

Caution: A hairdryer on high heat not only fries your hair, but damages your brush, too! So, keep the dryer on moderate heat to make your brush last longer.

Let your hair down, or brush it up…

Whatever you do, make sure your brush with style makes heads turn!

The Oldest Brush Myth

Your mother, and possibly your grandmother, told you to give your hair a nightly hundred strokes of brushing. Brush away this myth; too much brushing gives you nothing but split ends and a scalp greasier than a mechanic’s hands.


5 Ways to Help Kids Find Their Own Style


5 Ways to Help Kids Find Their Own Style

No Comments 25 July 2011

Daisy Duke has a lot to answer for. The darling of the old TV show “Dukes of Hazard,” she is the woman who made America slice their jeans into hot pants and bare a billion butts every summer for more than two decades. This is also the woman who, along with Britney Spears, is making your daughter dress like a tart.

“Modesty be damned!” declares teen-age fashion and off your darling trots to junior high tricked out like a MTV harlot. Inspired by rock videos, glossy magazines and role models like Posh Spice, teen fashion has never been fleshier.

Confronted at the mall by racks of slashed T-shirts, hipster jeans and micro-minis, where does a parent draw the line? Bargaining power between you and Miss Lolita comes with knowledge.Knowledge of your daughter’s peers, her body type, a smattering of teen-trend literacy (for example, pop star Gwen Stefani no longer wears a bindi between her eyes) and the stores where better styles can be found.

To a teen, clothing is a life and death issue. They want to fit in, they want to look pretty, they want to show the world who they are and they don’t want to be ridiculed. Such intense expectations can lead to terrible tensions at the cash register and a secret wardrobe of clothes stashed in school lockers and backpacks. To help your girl go to school in the clothes she actually left the house wearing takes smarts and sensitivity. Try and remember what you wanted so desperately at the age of 15… Madonna boots? Fish nets? Teased hair? And smile at your present parental dilemma.

Clothes, at any age, are dreams connected by stitches. If your baby dreams of dressing like a Britster she can still do so with her dignity and your sanity in tact.

Style and safety

Preteens feel stifled when you refuse them a perm, tight jeans, makeup or heels. The trouble is they know so little about the power of suggestive dress. Keeping a code of modesty is a way of protecting a young body from unwanted attention. Without making her feel ashamed of her body, you need to teach her how to dress it with style and safety.

Rock stars have body guards. That allows them the liberty to wear a belly button ring, a bra, low-slung hip huggers and a python around their neck without impunity. Your daughter lacks the same level of protection so don’t feel like a prude for trying to police her wardrobe. My mother had a very simple rule: if you can bend over in it, you can wear it. That means a skirt that cover your knickers, shorts that cover your thighs, tops that contain your boobage and jeans that don’t offer up butt cleavage every time you sit down.

Small sexy touches and ladylike deportment are what win the Prince in the end but it is hard to explain that to a teenager.

Strike a compromise between fun fashion and common sense; a miniskirt instead of hot pants, hipster undies instead of G-strings (yes, they make G-strings for preteens now!), tinted lip balm instead of lipstick and a T-shirt bra to keep prying eyes off her sproutlings.

For older girls, allow her small concessions to vampishness: a backless halter top, a henna (not real) tattoo, kitten or wedge heels, a great red lipstick, her own perfume and a little black dress. Stress style and elegance over trash and treasure.

Take her vintage shopping for cute accessories that make her feel sophisticated as well as sweet: drop earrings, a plastic pearl necklace, a great 70’s shoulder bag, a beaded cardigan or her very first lace cocktail dress.

Shape and size

All teens are not created equal but they all yearn to be generically slim with neat little breasts and hips. The fact that jeans are a universal uniform doesn’t help. If your daughter is heavy, super tall or just a little lumpy and gangly, now is the time to give her a sense of dressing to suit the proportion of her body.

Try a pretty blouse for girls less confident about their bosom, a cool a-line skirt in denim instead of jeans for a chubby bottom and a beautiful choker for a long (soon-to-be-elegant neck). Kids like to hide in baggy clothes or overcompensate in ultra-tight clothes. Show them that fit is more important than any fashion trend and that dress size is only on the inside of the label.

Square peg survival

The courage to cultivate a less conformist taste needs to take seed early.

Shopping for school clothes can be a nightmare in the face of so many subtle codes of dress. To create a new sense of cool assure her that she doesn’t need to dress like everyone else or that she can wear one super trendy piece (a wind cheater, a picture T-shirt, feather earrings) with other pieces that actually suit her. Ask her if she really likes expensive runners or if she is just trying to fit in. Let her know that clothes are not a sure-fire guarantee for popularity either. For movie role models of teens who look Different watch “Pretty in Pink,” “Beetlejuice” and “Fly Away Home.”

The princess budget

Common sense about clothes and shopping in general comes from a good budget. Set aside a realistic sum from her savings, pocket money or Sunday job and set up a clothes allowance. Make her name the four items she can’t do without then let her research them for a full week, online, in stores and in magazines. When she finds the lowest price and the best style, they are hers. That seven-day wait slows down the futility of impulse shopping and takes the pressure off both of you. When you finally do you go shopping, you have a list and a mission, not just a headache. Learning to build a seasonal wardrobe around four pieces also leaves room in the budget for small splurges: — a new sweater or a baby T — and stops the cycle of endless buying. Budgets also trigger creative clothing alternatives. Thrift shopping, home sewing, customizing your own jeans or organizing clothes swaps are all fun ways for “getting a look” without paying retail.

Love is in the details

Beware of the messages you are sending out when you are shopping with your daughter. A woman’s body image, self esteem and shopping compulsions are often established from the shopping she did with her mother. Don’t critique her body. Don’t prove your love with a credit card. Don’t buy her clothes that you want to wear yourself or use shopping as an emotional reward.

Do allow her a private change room and the freedom to choose the stores you visit. Try to remember that shopping is not a bonding experience for everyone. If your tastes and personalities clash over clothes then imposing your will is a waste of time. Respect her needs and set sensible guidelines for shopping on her own. It may be your money she’s spending but it is still her life. If this year’s fashion doesn’t involve cleavage or multiple piercings, cut the girl a little slack The beauty of youth is the right to make mistakes and, sometimes, wear frankly ridiculous clothes.

Bag Personality: Find The Bag of Your Dreams


Bag Personality: Find The Bag of Your Dreams

No Comments 22 July 2011

Bags are so much like lovers it’s not funny. They can be well built but too heavy, good looking but too expensive, deep with the potential to be messy or so adorable you just can’t dump them no matter how ragged they’ve become.

Finding “the one” in terms of bags takes a measure of introspection, the courage to commit to one new great shape and the time to find it. On behalf of every woman who has asked me, I have been searching. Writing a definitive history of the handbag (due out next fall for Workman) has led me to handle and ogle over a thousand bags, and yet…it is impossible to name the one bag that fits all. A Mom bag is different from a Daughter bag and yet both women have much ‘stuff’ to schlep. To aid the quest, flip through this checklist. A new bag demands a whole new philosophy to go with it. Check your personality against my bags of choice and hopefully you’ll find a way to pocketbook nirvana.

The Schlepper

If the top of your bag reaches your elbow it is too deep. If it is heavier than five pounds on a Monday morning and hurts your shoulder it is too heavy and if you carry work or books home that you never read STOP STUFFING! To lighten the load of a habitually bulky bag, buy a backpack and ruthlessly reduce its contents. Here’s how: Carry a magazine instead of a thick paperback; keep gym gear/documents/makeup bag at the office; reduce the number of keys you really need. Never carry an object for purely sentimental reasons (rock crystals are heavy!)
Dream backpack:Dooney and Burke’s navy and spotted beige leather or for a plain solid color, Lancel.

The New Mom

Just because you are toting a small human doesn’t mean you need to carry the world on one shoulder. Stash everything you can on the back of your stroller and keep your bag for you. You still want to wear perfume, go for lunch and have a place where small hands can’t wander. It can be done, just try to separate bambini’s needs (bottles, diapers, toys) from yours: aspirin, cell phone, large black sunglasses.

Dream Mama Bag: The   is perfect for the first six months, big, soft and roomy with a strap strong enough to hang off the back of a pram. For the toddler years try a Coach legacy companion flap bag. It is absolutely investigation proof!

The Perfectionist

Neat freaks sometimes carry bags that are too rigid and, as a result, somewhat dowdy. Even executives can soften up their edges with a little romance. Tips for handbag sensuality: Choose a softer leather than you are used to. Keep your contents structured and indulge in a floral print for spring or a striped canvas for fall. Explore plaited leathers, pastel shades and textures. Just because you are not carrying a MSN Shopping doesn’t mean you’re not on the board.
Dream Pretty Bag: Bottega Veneta plaited tote.

The Slob

Sticky candy, old phone bills, loose socks all inhabit the base of your bag and you can never find your keys or cell phone. You need a bag with compartments that shames you into order. Tips to de-clutter: Buy a receipt folder and empty it onto a spike at the end of each day. Don’t carry food in your bag (no exceptions). Use one diary, one pen, one lipstick…. Clean out your bag nightly.
Dream Order Bag: Lamberston Truex Weekender. It has a cell phone pocket, a hook for keys and a central cosmetic pouch that wipes clean.

The Eccentric

You hate to look like you actually work in an office and have been known to attend meetings carrying a beach bag made of Raffia. But you’re a big girl now and ready for a bit more style, not to mention practicality. Pragmatic tips for dreamers: Buy a bag that really is big enough (evening bags die young). Try to find a color that matches more than one outfit. Choose vintage bags with strong handles.
Dream Bag: Jamin Puech ‘Louisiana’ tote, a bag with a beautiful patchwork print and a sturdy lined interior. Arty but chic.

Bag basics
Don’t leave home without:
1. Eye cream/balm (office air conditioning dehydrates)
2. One lipstick, one clear lip balm, one lip pencil (not petroleum based): For day, use the balm to soften a bright lipstick or to blend with a lip pencil. For night, wear bright solid color. A pink lipstick can go double duty as a blusher if blended right.
3. One super-soft eyeliner pencil. Use for brows as well as eyes.
4. Clarins beauty flash: brings color to the cheeks, works as a great end-of-office-day mask and moisture pick me up.
5. One tinted sunscreen: to protect and conceal.
6. A perfume sample, a baby candy bar or a piece of ribbon you love: I love finding treats in my handbag, to alter my mood, hair or scent at will.

Haute Mamas – The New Maternity Chic

Baby & Pregnancy, Style

Haute Mamas – The New Maternity Chic

No Comments 18 July 2011

I have always dreaded pregnancy. Not for the discomfort, not for the weight gain, not for the agony of childbirth…but for the clothes! Like many women, I have never wanted to look comfortable and stain-proof in an insipid floral smock. A woman having a baby should not have to dress like one, nor should she suddenly divest herself of black chiffon, kitten heels and cleavage, especially when this might be the best cleavage of her lifetime.

Recently I found role models who have followed that code of nonchalant goddess charm, bearing their burgeoning bodies with a breezy, seductive élan. Revelation number one was Uma Thurman at the Oscars in an evening dress that was almost all bustline. Va va voom! Revelation number two was Kate Moss’s nine-month fashion parade of delicate printed chiffons, denim skirts, UGG boots and Grecian-style evening dresses that made pregnancy look almost fun.

Real-life revelation number three came when one of my best friends fell pregnant at 41. Six-feet tall and imperiously vampish, she wore 1930s bias-cut silk satin slips layered in contrasting hand-dyed shades of magenta and scarlet, with silk chiffon wraps knotted loosely over her burgeoning bust. The night before her waters broke she was lounging about in a black, stretch-georgette evening dress and bare feet. Swollen ankles and hellish water retention did not weary her and it was a joy to behold.

Pregnancy does not automatically equal 9 months of frumpdom. For the career mom, Diane Von Furstenburg does a big belly wrap in stretch silk jersey. For the action mom, Gap does a series of boot-cut jeans that accommodate three phases of tummy expansion from just showing to their extended panel model which is big enough for twins. Heck, I even found black leather Sheryl Crow-style pants for the expectant rock chick at www.apeainthepod.com, a fantastic fashion company that commissions contemporary designers such as Anna Sui and TIBI to make their sundresses. The store even provides a full-length beaded wedding dress in duchess satin by Nicole Miller. Now that is modern maternity style!

Cruising the Web for pretty pregnant clothes is a relaxing alternative to struggling through busy department stores and the prices are competitive. Like shopping for “normal” fashion, it pays to balance designer items against less expensive basics. Get your denim capris at Old Navy or Gap Maternity and splurge on a ruched-fronted poplin shirt and a keyhole peasant blouse at www.belissimama.com, or plunk down for a Vivianne Tam T-shirt at www.thematernitymall.com. The sensible mother-to-be would do well to choose some pieces (especially tops) that can be used during and after their pregnancy—and well into nursing. Button-front shirts and loose Nehru-style tops can accommodate a bigger bust, easy access for feeding and grabby little paws better than a plain T-shirt.

Pumpkin Wurtzel, of www.pumpkinmaternity.com (a fashion site and Nolita boutique devoted to street-wise Mommy fashion), stresses the importance of good underwear during your gestation. “If you are wearing pretty and supportive undergarments it makes dressing more of a joy. I became a fan of the thong during my first pregnancy but I can also understand women loving those baggy ‘granny’ knickers at full term.” Pumpkin’s site sells both and plenty of witty little sundresses besides.

“Women” says Pumpkin sagely, “have different trouble spots during pregnancy. Some don’t love their arms or their knees and I design with these issues in mind.” Expecting her second baby shortly, Pumpkin says the best thing about pregnant style is actually overcoming niggling body issues in favor of the big picture. “Having your body change in ways you can’t control allows a woman to let go of a lot of self-obsession. This selflessness is the first step to becoming a parent.” Amen!

Fertile, fabulous, full-figured and free-spirited, there is nothing more attractive than a woman owning up to her changes with grace and humor. The funniest item I found on the Mommy market was a T-shirt that read “Got Breastmilk?” ($16.00, www.hotmama.com) just getting the chance to wear one of those would make all of the hard work worth it!

Whether you are just showing or in the last throes of carrying your baby, do find ways to liven up the process with style. Here are seven more tips for the round set. Bless your darling D-cups!

1. Sew stylish: Crafty mommies on a budget can make their own chic sheaths. Check out VOGUE Pattern no. 2750 for a stretch wrap dress with Juliet sleeves, or VOGUE Pattern no. 1757 for a swing coat for day.

2. Va-va-vintage: The best vintage styles to wear while pregnant are oversize rayon ’40s dresses (with espadrilles), full-length negligees (for sexy lounging), swing-back opera coats (for evening cover ups) and oversized men’s shirts worn open over tanks and sarongs.

3. Belly balm: Bare bellies are a big summer trend with proud types wearing tight tanks and hipster-style cargo pants. Frankly, I think this looks like Britney Spears with indigestion but if you must strut the gut…moisturize it! Tummy skin is fragile and needs constant attention to avoid stretch marks and dehydration.

4. Functional footware: Shoes need to support you properly and fit swollen feet. Ignore Carrie Bradshaw and Manolo Blahnik fans everywhere and wear Birkenstocks if you need to. A long, bias-cut skirt will compliment them.

5. Accessorize: Don’t be a plain Jane! Accent your new boobs with a velvet-trimmed shawl for evening or a double strand of faux pearls. Wear anything now that you can’t later on…dangly earrings, chokers, complex trailing ringlets…all will be taboo once baby starts clutching.

6. Lingerie indulgence: Splurge on a sexy black lace-trimmed bra (www.biggirl’sbra.com) now or forever hold your peace in the nursing numbers that are to come.

7. Pattern power: Polka dots, horizontal stripes, gaudy florals and funky plaids can all be worn while pregnant. This is the one time in a woman’s life when she does not need to slim down or pretend to be 10 pounds lighter!


Natural Hair And How to Wear It

No Comments 14 June 2011

To most women, the fashionable return of natural, kinky, curly and wavy hair is about as welcome as the revival of the miniskirt. After decades of teasing, blow-drying, processing and yanking our hair straight, suddenly we are being asked to get back to nature. How many women reading this story even know what their original hair looks like anymore? About the only time we catch ourselves un-styled is when we’re soaking wet on a beach or in a maternity ward far from a comforting stash of products and a powerful blow-dryer.

While straight hair may confer authority and respectability, it also signals a great loss of originality, sensuality and, simply put, fun. Like natural beauty of any kind, natural hair takes a little work. But once you find the best way to style and nourish your true locks you may never want a boring blow-out again. In pursuit of my original kink, I began uptown in Manhattan and worked my way downtown—sniffing out as many miracle products as I could fit into a canvas tote along the way…

Gil Ferrer—the French celebrity hairstylist whose salon tends Candace Bushnell’s blondeness and keeps Meg Ryan artfully tousled—is adamant about nourishing hair. For summer, he suggests a deep-heat moisture treatment once a month to protect the follicles and keep the scalp stimulated. “A sealed cuticle,” he explains, “means less frizz, more shine and greater tenacity in the face of everyday breakage.” Ferrer sells old-fashioned heating caps and suggests an even simpler home treatment: Slather your hair with a deep conditioner, cover it with plastic wrap and then top everything with hot towels. “Do it while you drink your coffee,” he suggests. “Pop some damp towels in the microwave and keep the hair warm consistently for 12 minutes, and conditioning becomes a healthy habit.”

Known for his specialists, Ferrer had me consult his trichologist and then get a custom cut based on the natural fall of my mixed-up mane. Trichology is the science of the hair and scalp, a relatively new study introduced to America in 1977. Christopher Mackin leads the field, jumping jets to go settle Nicole Kidman’s or Julia Roberts’ tresses as well as passing on critical advice to mere mortals. As Mackin exfoliates, clarifies and moisturizes the scalp, he also educates. “Wash your scalp using gentle circular motions with the balls of your fingers to awaken the scalp” he urges, “and blot your hair dry between shampoo and conditioner so that the nourishment can penetrate the hair shaft.”

Mackin stresses a diet rich in fish, fresh veggies and dairy and recommends a thorough brushing of the hair to stimulate the scalp just before bedtime. “Oxygen carried through the blood stimulates the scalp” he says. Glamour, the natural kind, starts at the root.

When Vincent “The Master from Brazil” cuts my hair he snips it completely dry, following the natural shape. Afterwards, he flipped my mane from side to side with a technique the Gil Ferrer Salon calls “the tossed salad”, which feels a bit like aerobics for hair. Suddenly the locks are aloft, not frozen or tortured into place, and a razored feather cut releases the curl. Four fabulous hours later, I am the natural hair woman. More Sonia Braga, less Peter Frampton. Kinky, glossy and moisturized, it does seem a little excessive to spend this much time getting back to nature, yet education is what allows a lady to make the best of her God-given locks. It was comforting to know that simple things like eating well and brushing thoroughly can improve my hair’s condition, especially in such a product-driven era. In my case, stubborn frizz just needed some gentle layering and my naturally-flat roots needed the aerating upward motions of Vincent, Brazilian lord of the hair salad.

Heading downtown to Lorraine Massey (author of Curly Girl, through Workman publishing), co-owner of the Devachan salon in Soho and inventor of a range of fabulous curl-inducing shampoos, I enriched my natural hair knowledge. Relaxed and down-to-earth, Massey’s solutions for dry and damaged hair can be as simple as diluting shampoo with spring water, abandoning shampoo altogether (she uses only conditioner on her ringlets) or making an avocado-based natural smoothie and letting it soak into the tips for 20 minutes.

Hair, Massey believes, needs to be retrained back into its natural curls, especially if it has been regularly straightened through styling or products. Letting African-American hair grow kinky (and smoothing it with the help of extra conditioner) and allowing corkscrew curls a slight halo of frizz are both central to her mantra. When my hair was returned to its natural fold of waves and curls, I no longer feared rain (the great curl machine) or “bed head”. In fact, I jumped out of bed keen to see where the day and the kink would take me! Her specially formulated non-detergent shampoos were also complimentary to hair that had been confused and weighed down by too many styling aids.

Enlightened by scalp science, heat treatments, curl care and gentler products, I realized that wearing hair natural is an artful mix of the right cut, the right formulas and knowing when to leave well enough alone. Find your balance and bounce back. Here’s how:

Natural styling secrets

1. If you don’t have the time let the sun dry your hair naturally, then buy a diffuser. Once you discover just how much curl your hair has, decide how to wear it. Curls can be stretched into fat waves using foam rollers or a wide-toothed comb, or tightened with finger waves and a spritz of setting lotion.

2. For hair that is flat on top and curly on the bottom, twist at the roots, spray with rose or lavender water and apply tight pin curls for about half an hour. Finger-style to keep the curls elevated.

3. Try the no-touchy method: Finger-smooth wet hair and then sleep on it, or wear it in the sun. Frizzing happens when hair gets mauled.

4. Use the weekend to experiment with natural setting techniques and homemade treatments. Pad around the house in pin curls, long tiny braids (for pre-Raphaelite crimping) or goopy olive oil on your split ends for damage control. Wild, sexy hair might be the result.

5. Wear an up-do at work that unfurls into slinky long looks for night. Coil two sides into loose bunches and pin, or wear a chignon that allows less pressure to fall on the crown of the head. Tight ponytails have been know to create temporary pattern baldness in women, so loosen up.

Natural care know-how

1. Use radically less shampoo or water it down with spring water. Choose shampoos with very low detergent levels or none at all.

2. Cutting off an inch or two every six weeks keeps hair healthy. No matter how gentle you are with hair, the tips get brittle. Trimming is a smart move, not a sacrifice.

3. Rinse beach or pool hair with a bottle of club soda after your swim, and choose leave-in conditioners with built-in sunscreens.

The art of French Dressing Style


The art of French Dressing Style

No Comments 19 February 2010

Je ne sais quoi. What is it that French women have and the rest of the world attempts to copy? Catherine Deneuve had it, dressed in a little black chambermaid’s dress with her hair in a loose chignon. Dominique Sand had it, with her brows plucked thin and her barely there lipstick posed in a perma-pout. Charlotte Gainsbourg has it right now, wearing little more than a raincoat and jeans. It’s CHIC — that strangely plain yet highly studied casual look that condemns American women to looking forever overdressed. .

Lord knows we try — packing our striped Breton T-shirts for a trip to Avignon and religiously buying French shoes, makeup and perfume in duty free on the way home. But somewhere in the mix that deft restraint and Parisian subtlety gets lost. American style is about the big statement (or several big statements) lavishly endowed into one outfit. Even the classic models at Calvin Klein and Michael Kors are too glossy by French standards, with the shoe, the bag and the hair all competing for their own glory.

French style is always a matter of less. I know this because I have dressed badly in Paris seven times in a row. Sitting in the Café Flore in 1989 I died of shame as the local girls tittered at my sequin beret and garish fishnet stockings. Lesson No. 1 about French dressing: Sexy style is a sneaky affair, nothing blatant will do. Many years and many fishnets later I strolled through the Marais in a very plain black dress, only to discover then the French vixen was baring her back in sheer singlets and loosely cut floral dresses, basking her behind in the spotlight of soft linen yoga pants.

The look was more Bilitis than Britney, more body skimming than body revealing, and ultimately it was both sensual and sympathetic to many different shapes and ages. Impressed, I set forth to distill the essence of French fashion sense, so apparently effortless yet refined and regimented by centuries of practice.

Even if a French woman is wearing a striped top, red shoes, three bangles and jeans she will strive to unify all the elements into a seamless whole. The stripes and the jeans will be a neutral color, the bangles will be bone or cocoa. The French love cocoa and pale honey straw as wardrobe coordinates; they allow accessories to float on a basic canvas and blend a look together.

All clothes bar your suit and your classic white blouse must look supple, not starched. And that goes for hair as well. A silky blowout or a simple twisted chignon flatter your face and look sleek yet romantic. Highlights are never harsh and makeup borders on bland. For a good example of French restraint look at Clarins models and Princess Caroline of Monaco. Theirs are looks that melt into one golden natural glow.

Law No. 3: DELIGHT
Despite the fixation with natural and neutral tones,every French woman wears one flirty item: high heels, a leather skirt, a skim of black eyeliner, a choker. The trick is just one item — never two — and that’s the hard part.

Law No. 4: INVEST
A Vuitton bag, a Hermes scarf, a pair of Charles Jourdan heels, diamond earrings…these classics remain the cornerstone of a chic wardrobe no matter your age. The young wear them with jeans and espadrilles, the older with pencil skirts and cashmere sweaters cut low. Kept in immaculate condition, a French woman will wear her Kelly bag for life and simply change the clothes around it.

Law No. 5: BE BOLD
Pleasure in being a woman is the philosophy of French dressing. It begins with lingerie (silk, please) and includes such simple details as an art deco brooch or pair of lace stockings. Dressing to flatter your body and investing in well-cut basics allow for eccentric touches. Find what you love and make it your signature. For couture diva Sonia Rykiel it’s a cloud of red hair; for street chic Agnes B. it’s a sleek cropped leather jacket. For you it might be long flowing hair and short velvet gloves.

Less is so much more! Less clashing color, less blush, less hair gel, less baubles, less ruffles, much less fur — but one ravishing perfume, French of course.

Clothes must be immaculately kept. The same goes for hair and makeup. Very glossy hair in a simple ponytail looks better than a structured updo. Eyebrows plucked to perfection lessen the need for heavy eyeshadow and mascara.

Ironic but true, the beauty parlor is essential to “natural” French style. Facials, hair treatments, endless massage (to keep legs forever in mini skirts) and cellulite balms are all standard practice. Manicure weekly, but choose red nails for holiday only.


  1. A great white blouse
  2. A navy blue pea coat cut to the hip
  3. Tall black boots
  4. A midi length black pencil skirt
  5. Black kid gloves
  6. Acres of cable knit cashmere in cocoa and honey
  7. A studded domino bag or striped tank
  8. Red high heels
  9. A wrap dress in black jersey
  10. A pirate shirt with embroidered sleeves worn with a waistcoat
Top 10 Fashion Don’ts


Top 10 Fashion Don’ts

1 Comment 12 February 2010

What not to wear this year

Some people look good in white cowboy boots with fringe—Chloe Sevigny and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, perhaps. Some people pluck their eyebrows to a thin wisp and resemble Carole Lombard—Drew Barrymore on a good day. Some people even look all right in beige leather pants—Giselle Bundchen, and only her. But these people are the lucky exceptions.

Fashion don’ts exist to protect us from ourselves. They help to stop a trend before it becomes a fashion virus or to officially bury a look that has exhausted its charms. Women ought to consider themselves lucky. We are no longer obliged to wear step-in corsets, rock-hard beehives and pencil skirts to the office. Clothes don’t limit our movement or mold our bodies in the way that they used to, but there are certain standards of modern elegance that are in timely need of question.

My don’t list is not proscriptive, it’s provocative. Just imagine a week without blow-drying your hair or donning a thong. Sweet liberty! Picture yourself finally disposing of the hipster pants that made your bottom look like a squashed doughnut. Sweet Lord! Trends have become so prevalent and so well promoted that women forget to question them or even consider what suits them anymore.

I’ve known since I was 13 that I look hideous in jeans. Resistant to peer pressure, I’ve never bought a pair. Pear-shaped women need A-line skirts and that is just one of the reasons that one lady’s classic look is another’s fashion fiasco. Look at your body, look at the list and then just say no to the clothes and beauty trends that are making you look fatter, older or just plain sillier than you need to.

Ten whopping great fashion don’ts:

1. Killer shoes: Sarah Jessica Parker swears by her Monolo Blahniks. The Sex and the City shoe is a pointy sling-back with a thin, shaft-like heel that now punctures every sidewalk on the country. Trouble is, these are spring shoes. Wear them with a cocktail dress in May. Forget them in the snow, in the rain and in the office. This spring the flat is back and thank goodness. Only Barbie has an in-step arch that high.

2. Tortured blow-outs: Super flat, poker-straight hair looks aging on anyone over 23. It’s “wedding hair” and a ‘do that looks “done”, especially on girls who are naturally curly. The damage of drying hair at high heat daily or literally ironing it out with chemical straighteners and weird salon processes isn’t worth the dollars. Try something looser, wavier and altogether more natural. Straight hair is so darn serious!

3. Lab coat whites: The white knee-length overcoat needs to go back to Mary Tyler Moore’s closet. Prissy, starchy and almost impossible to match, this Princess piece has been popular with movie stars on the red carpet. From a distance they look like bathrobes. Wedding day only!

4. Sticky pouts: If small insects get stuck on your lip gloss, it’s time to lighten up. Pop stars with gooey gobs have given the gloss trend a bad name. Blend a lighter beeswax-based Chapstick with your favorite lipstick for sheer color coverage that is sensuous but not sleazy.

5. Plucked-bare brows: Skinny eyebrows were huge in the early ’90s. Linda Evangelista had curving arches higher than Ronald McDonald’s but she had expert makeup artists filling in the gaps between lid and brow bone. Last year the skinny brow returned with a 1930s twist. Teamed with Marcel waves and cherry-red lipstick, the new naked brow had gangster moll charm.

Worn by Maggie Gyllenhaal and other ingenues the no-brow looks winsome. On the rest of us thirty-something mortals—under office light, or with a hangover, or a tight pony tail and a light frown—well, it’s just much less pretty. Be wise, go bright-eyed and bushy browed.

6. Frumpy cardigan jackets: Who came up with those long sweater jackets with hoods that sag down over the knees and belt at the waist with a long strip of woven wooly fabric? I want to slap them. This is maternity wear, or ski-bunny wear or something to run naked to the bathroom in the middle of the night in. But it’s not one bit flattering!

7. Skirts with pants: One barely needs to explain the sin here. Californian art teachers, models without bottoms and Bjork are permitted this combo, but only them. If your legs are cold, crochet some leg warmers and wear them over a sexy high-heeled boot. Deliberately crafty looking clothes look best on tall wafty blondes, everyone else should approach with caution.

8. Pants with heels: Let the fashion editors of Manhattan take me out and shoot me, but I am done with the ‘trouser leg sprouting a towering spiky heel at its cuff’ phenomenon. What is the point of wearing $700 Jimmy Choo or Gucci boots and concealing them beneath your jeans or tweed pants? Conversely, what is the logic of wearing pants for comfort and killer heels for glamour (and pain)? Something’s gotta give. Try cowboy boots or T-bar Mary Janes instead.

9. The wrong thong: G-string underwear used to be the provenance of strippers, gymnasts and Italian movie stars. Now your daughter and your Mom are wearing them. This is lingerie guilty of too much information. Peeking over trouser waistbands they look trampy. Visible under a tight skirt they look too skimpy. Great-grandma had a better idea: If you want to avoid visible panty line, try a silk camisole or simply opt for looser clothing altogether. Anything that’s tight enough or sheer enough to show the elastic of your knickers isn’t really fashion. It’s cruelty.

10. Blonde highlights: When spring comes a million heads across the country bob up adorned with silver foils. The cost of being artificially sun-kissed is high and the results are not always that divine. If you want to look like a TV anchor woman…go blonde. But if you want to really stand out, try a richer variation of your natural shade. Blondes don’t always have more fun.

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