Thursday, July 2, 2015

What We Love at: Banana Republic

WhatweLove

In April, Marissa Web’s first collection as Banana Republic’s creative director hit the stores. For many of us, the change was noticed immediately. During on of our monthly marketing meetings, the conversation turned to how the new collection was more elegant and wearable. Unlike the previous seasons that left us wondering why we even bothered to got to the store in the first place.

Last month it was reported that sales were still struggling, and the new collection was not resonating with shoppers. Some blamed a lack of color and pattern, others argued that it simply takes some time for a new aesthetic to develop a following.

In either case, we love the sophisticated color palette, the updated take on classic silhouettes and the effortless feel of each piece. As a bonus, the prices are appropriate for the style and quality. Unlike J Crew, which in recent years has increased prices while forgoing quality. We picked our favorite items currently available that can take you anywhere from work to weekends.

dresses

BR_DressesCrepe Shirtdress, $79.50;  Knit Patio Dress, $120; Sloan-Fit Black Cross Back Sheath, $150

bottoms_01Banana Republic Skirts and Pants July 2015Cutout Lace Pencil Skirt, $140;  Drapey Pant, $98; Destroyed Light Wash Slouchy Skinny Jean, $110

tops_01

Banana Republic tops July 2015Flounce-Hem Tank in White, $45; Embroidered-Back Top, $79.50; Soft-Wash Gray Plaid Boyfriend Shirt, $79.50

accessories_01

Banana Republic Accessories July 2015Tassel Charm Necklace, $25; Rina Scarf, $60; Double Wrap Belt, $25

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wear to Work: Leopard Print Pump

WeartoWorkHow to wear Leopard Print shoes to workKey Piece: Sam Edelman Leopard Print Slingback Pumps, $120; Dress: TOPSHOP Belted Sheath Dress, $125; Earrings: Eddie Borgo Silver Pyramid Stud Earring, $65; Necklace: Kenneth Jay Lane Lapis Triple Strand Collar Necklace, $59; Bag: Black Zipper Tote Bag, $28; Top: MICHAEL Michael Kors Turquoise Studded Crepe Top, $190; Earrings: Kenneth Jay Lane Gold-plated earring, $25; Cuff: Sole Society Open Metal Cuff, $25; Skirt: Classiques Entier ‘Relief Rib’ Ponte Pencil Skirt, $100

Leopard prints, with their dark and heavy color combinations, tend to be considered a fall and winter pattern. Depending on the style of shoe, you can easily incorporate the look into your summer wardrobe. Adding an accent pattern, like this leopard print, into your summer work wardrobe is a fun and easy way to keep your look fresh and elevated.

Sam Edelman designed an adorable and seasonally appropriate slingback. The pattern is bold and modern, and the heel is not only interesting, but wearable. When you wear any animal print, consider it a neutral. It can go with just about anything (except more animal print). For the first look, we went with navy. Another neutral that when pair with the right pattern and accessories comes alive. This dress from Topshop is perfection. Be sure to have it altered to hit the top of your knee. The lapis necklace adds texture without competing with the print of the shoe. Because the necklace has a lot going on, your earrings should be simple, like these pyramid studs. You could also use your everyday diamond studs. For this look and the next we used the same bag because you wouldn’t have a brand new bag for every outfit. The braided detail on the handle feels a touch more casual, which works well in the summer months.

In the second look, we wanted to pick a color that wouldn’t be your obvious first choice. You could totally do red (in fact, the tank is available in red). To brighten up the outfit, the green felt fresh and current. The small stud details that move down the front of the top help elongate your shape and make you look taller and leaner. You could also use this piece with a traditional black, gray or navy suit too.

Whether to tuck or untuck the tank will depend on where it hits you and how it hangs. If if falls over your body and hits slightly above your hip bone, try it out. You may also want to hem the bottom to hit at your most flattering point. If you like your tops tucked in, be sure you have enough length to do so.

These earrings mimic the stud detailing of the tank. All you need to finish the accessories is a lightweight cuff, like this one from Sole Society. Finally, this black pencil skirt from Classique is everything you look for in a skirt. It’s become increasingly difficult to find classic pieces. Everything has something on it these days that limits its versatility. If you’re looking for a workhorse piece, pick this skirt up while it’s still available. Just like the dress in this set, have it hemmed to the top or an inch above your knee.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Q&A Tuesday

Q&Atitle

I am plus sized and I am in search of the perfect body shaper to wear under my dresses. I am just not sure that Spanx are the best bet for me especially because they do not last very long and the elasticity seems to wear faster than I think based on what I pay for a pair. Can you recommend a better body shaper? – Erika 

While Spanx is the most popular brand, we find that Yummie Tummie’s Cleo High Waisted Short is fantastic option.  It’s half the price of Spanx, fits well,  and keeps you smooth without feeling like you are in a corset (i.e. you can breathe).

I have a few peplum tops in my closet.  Are they still in style? – Kathy

Absolutely.  I have a few as well and wear them frequently.  They work best when the peplum is subtle.  You don’t want it to “bell” out.  Rather, you want it to rest comfortably over your mid section.  (The shape of this peplum is ideal). This style is particularly flattering if you carry extra weight there.  Pair with slim jeans, a straight skirt or your best fitting pair of shorts with a flat front.

Love your blog!  Thank you for all of your recommendations.  I am headed on a long weekend with some girlfriends and want an updated beach bag.  Something smaller than what I typically bring when I’m at the beach with my kids.  Any recommendations? – Tricia 

Ugh!  I would do anything for long weekend with some girlfriends!  Good for you.  Trips like this are a great excuse to try a new style that you would otherwise avoid.  All you need is something to hold your essentials, a book or iPad and some sunscreen.  Vince Camuto did a silicone tote ideal for lazy days at the pool or beach.  If you want a little more room, this tote from Splendid could become a weekender after your trip.   I also love this smaller version.  Forever 21 did a bag for $10.00 that might be all you need.

Have a style question?  Leave it in the in the comments below and we’ll feature it in the coming weeks!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Hotter Temps. Shorter Hemlines.

You’re probably noticing as the weather warms up, hemlines creep up, sleeves shorten, materials thin and professional clothing options are up for debate.

As the summer moves in, employees opt for skimpy, casual summertime attire as opposed to the layers and skin covering options winter requires. It’s not over yet, because as temps rise, so do the hemlines.

Naturally, summertime brings a desire to want to spend more time outside. As a result, employees and team members often carry over the laid back mood of summer into their office apparel choices. When the heat can’t be beat by air conditioning alone, questionable decisions are often made in lighter dress that isn’t always ideal for business environments.

Nicole Williams, a LinkedIn career expert and best-selling author, agrees. “When the weather is warmer we often lose the tights and the layers and toss on our spring brights and sandals,” she says. “I’ve seen flip-flops, short shorts and tiny tank tops at professional workplaces,” image and attire no-nos.

Every office is different in their dress code requirements. We just recently worked with ad agency where flip flops and fleece jackets were the culture.  While this kind of culture is increasing in popularity, it’s still not the norm.  Unless your CEO is showing up in flip flops it’s best to opt for the safe rule of thumb. Strive to always look professional, polished and appropriate. Since client calls, meetings and face-to-face appointments can occur at a moment’s notice, it’s essential to ensure your attire is ready.

No matter what your career, professional title or type of business may be, it’s important that you dress in a professional, respectful manner for all of those with whom you interact.  Because our image creates the perception others have of us, you don’t want to run the risk of being judged because your skirt is too short or your shirt is too casual.

Dress for the job you want, the position you aspire to attain and raise you deserve. Give them no reason to question your decision making abilities, credibility or presence. Let’s face it, you’ll never see a corporate CEO in a halter top at work, nor should anyone see you in one either.

Women can often push boundaries most when it comes to questionable attire. Overly casual shoes, sandals and flip flops, short skirts, low cut blouses and revealing dresses are all too often seen in the office when they should be saved for the weekend.

Williams agrees, citing flip flops, shorts, spaghetti straps, halter tops, tube tops, and miniskirts as the biggest attire “mishaps” among women. “These all belong at the beach, bar, gym, or privacy of your home–not at the office,” she says. “Lose the sunglasses once you’re indoors – that’s a huge summer attire offense. Your Ray Bans shouldn’t be used as a head band. And make sure your bra straps are safely tucked away. This is a major distraction and makes you come off as messy and scattered.”

Men don’t escape judgement either. Typically their office mishaps include wearing clothing that is too casual and inappropriate for the business place.  Shorts, wrinkled clothing and untucked shirt make their way to the scene far more often than they should. This look is unpolished and others often perceive this look as juvenile and inexperienced. If your work look could pull double duty at the bar over the weekend, the style chosen is too casual.

To avoid this, companies often choose to implement and enforce a more stringent set of dress code rules resulting in morale issues and frustrated employees. Instead of policing professionals clothing choices, spell it out clearly for them and provide direction.

 

  • Clearly state what clothing attire pieces are strictly forbidden. Specifically state: ‘No flip flops, above the knee hemlines, spaghetti straps or tees permitted.’ Clearly state ‘if you question it, don’t wear it.’

 

  • Best tip of all is to call on the expertise of an image consulting firm, like Megan Kristel, to assist in the education of image perception and appropriate attire for those in the office. Bringing real life examples to mind, this experience will ensure employees dress the part while beating the heat, protecting both their credibility and that of the company.

 

If you are the leader, lead by example.  Show up as your best self to encourage your team to do the same. It’s important to make a good impression and present a professional image. Don’t hesitate to remind your team before temps continue to rise. Help your employees beat the heat and learn the attire-appropriate options summer provides.

Chic of the Week: Queen Letizia

ChicoftheWeek

Queen Letizia is the unsung hero of the style world. The reigning best dressed of the Royals. She is consistently chic, classicly pulled together and elegant. She beautifully incorporates classic pieces with subtle modern twists that make her look timeless and current.

I often look to her outfits for inspiration. The outfit above is one of my favorites. It’s elegant and wearable at the same time. It’s also easy to replicate with a commoner’s budget. When recreating an inspiration outfit, look for the most specific item first. In this case, the snakeskin skirt. We found a similar and affordable (under $80) version in gray, which works just as well.

From there, we searched for the blouse. This Vince blouse with sheer details is gorgeous.  Looking for something under $100?  NYDJ has a great piece.  In the photo, Queen Letizia is carrying a clutch because Queens can carry small bags. In the real world, we need bigger bags. Consider white for the summer months. It’s bright, neutral and are available at affordable price points. The structure of this bag brings a seriousness to the look.

A fluid pearl earring, with subtle sparkle, is a fresh take on a classic. Finally, these gray pumps are fantastic for this time of year. They are just pale enough to make them seasonally appropriate with a very wearable heel.

Plus sized?  Calvin Klein did a black and white version of the skirt that you could wear year round.  We found two lovely blouse options.  This high-low option can be tucked into the skirt and later worn out with a pair of straight legged trousers.  For these warmer months, this roll tab blouse is the perfect piece.

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