Autumnal Transitions

Still moving from hot summer days in the US to more “seasonal” weather is hard. It’s actually been very hard to be motivated to purchase autumn/winter clothes when the weather is scorching! (Have I mentioned I’m missing the UK right now???) Nonetheless, AUrate New York reached out to me and asked if I would take a look at their jewellery and put together some ideas for day to evening looks.

That being said, before I agreed, I did take a look at their website and products first. All thoughts and comments are my own and I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post. One reason I agreed to work with AUrate was that they’re a “local” company. Local in the sense that they’re based in New York and make all their jewellery in New York. That means it creates local jobs for local people – they aren’t just an office that then has their product made overseas by overseas workers and shipped back to New York to be sold. They also ethically source all raw materials and diamonds under UN rules. And in terms of marketing and markup, the prices are reasonable – well, reasonable for solid gold and gold-vermeil jewellery – because you’re purchasing directly from them and there aren’t the costs of a turquoise box and white bow, red box, or even a black box involved along with all the related marketing markups associated with those “names.” (And you know which companies I’m talking about there!)

Above: J.Crew faux leather pleated midi skirt $120; Hush diva boots £219; J.Crew Tippi sweater $79.50; AUrate Proud pearl earrings with black diamonds $1200; and AUrate Icon yellow gold ring with black diamonds $750.

All black. Perfect. Long drop earrings may not be ideal for your job, so wear studs whilst at work, and add the bling with the pearls for evenings – but the ring is so edgy and eye-catching, day or night!

Above: Hush Onyx leather jacket £295; M&S Collection floral print long sleeve midi dress £49.50; and AUrate Structural Pyramid gold earrings $200.

Shoes? Try black booties for evening or tall flat riding boots for the day. Even the trainers below would work. Peep-toe platforms may lead to cold, wet toes for your autumn adventures. A black leather jacket is classic. And the earrings are SO fun – edgy but eye-catching both day and night.

Above: J.Crew Billie demi-boot cropped jean $125; M&S Collection cable knit turtleneck sweater/jumper £35; Hush Galaxy trainers £145; AUrate Solid Circle earrings $280; and AUrate Flower Ring $580.

The price point on the M&S sweater is great – there are similar options out there that are 100% wool or 100% cotton for those who prefer natural fabrics to synthetics. As for the Hush trainers – hello, Saint Laurant dupe for about £400 less! And the AUrate – perfect solid 14k gold earrings you’ll wear daily and have forever – and add the ring for a 14k gold fun (but classic) look when you go out in the evening with friends!

Above: LaRedoute slim fit cigarette trousers £39; AUrate Geometric Bar earrings $480; AUrate Large Flower earrings $180; Hush black jacket £75; and J.Crew Academy loafers $248.

T-shirt or chambray shirt? Lightweight merino like a Tippi or Bella Freud under the jacket? Hair calf leopard loafers are classic. And the earrings – the bar earrings are 14k and classic. Buy once, wear forever – day or night! The flower earrings – super fun and 14k vermeil over sterling silver for a great price point and/or gift!

Most of the time, you don’t have time to go home, change and go back out again after a long day at work – you want your jewellery to carry you from work to drinks, movies, or dinner, or school plays. (At least I don’t – and let’s be honest, if I go home, joggers and a t-shirt are going ASAP.) With AUrate, I think many of their pieces are work appropriate but fun and edgy enough to transition to evening. All of the lovely AUrate earrings can be found here. What I didn’t share was their lovely collection of delicate necklaces that can be layered – primarily because in autumn and through winter, I’m always bundled up in a scarf and such lovely bits are bound to get lost under 10000 layers of fabric!

I also forgot to mention – AUrate’s charity of choice provides books to “economically underprivileged” children. Books. Because I know I can’t imagine my life if I didn’t have books…

Thoughts? I can’t wait to hear what you think.

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

So, me and every other blogger is doing their picks of the Anniversary Sale. What do you need to get in on the action now? A Norstrom credit card! If you don’t have one, it’s easy peasy to apply online, then make sure your online account is set up and you can shop online or in store before the sale is “open” to the public on 20 July!

For me, I started with the Kiehl’s gift set – a great value – and 3 full-sized products. It was hard to decide between the two sets TBH! I chose the “ultra healthy skin favourites” set for $69 but I also really liked the moisturiser that came with the “super age correction” set at $89. Tough choices!

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The Kiehl’s Ultra Strength Hand Salve is only $10 (normally $15) – which in Las Vegas or anywhere super dry – you need!

And everything else from my picks from the sale (except the Saint Laurent sneakers and Frye flats!) are below. Not all Nordstrom stores have everything in stock, so if your local store doesn’t have it, they can order it for you, or order online. My suggestion is to make friends with someone in cosmetics and shoes to really get the inside scoop!

  • Voluspa Candle set $26.50 – after sale $40
  • Frye “Carson” Flats $157.95 (4 colours – not part of Anniversary Sale)
  • Gorjana Power Stone Semiprecious Bracelet $31.90 (6 colours) – after sale $48
  • Halogen Leather Moto Jacket $229.90 (2 colours) – after sale $349
  • Saint Laurent Classic Court Sneaker $595 (not part of Anniversary Sale)
  • Kate Spade Drop Earrings $31.90 (7 colours) – after sale $48
  • BP Stripe Faux Leather Clutch $22.90 – after sale $35
  • Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan $76.90 (4 colours) – after sale $116
  • Josef Seibel “Caspian” Sneaker $84.90 (5 colours) and I love the idea of the red sneaker – after sale $129.95
  • Paul Green “Logan” Bootie $239.90 (3 colours) – after sale $360
  • Nordstrom Signature Stretch Leather Biker Pants $649.90 – after sale $999

The only other thing I totally recommend is the Nordstrom Lingerie Wash $10.90 (after sale $18) – it is the best for washing all sorts of delicate clothing items!

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And honestly, this is the first time I’ve really had a hard time getting excited about this sale… it’s de-motivating to shop for autumn/winter clothes when it’s 115F/43c outside and the weather shows no signs of cooling off at any point in the near future. Nonetheless, shop away!

Balenciaga

Are you thinking of this?

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 07.59.08Or are you thinking of those timeless, iconic dresses and accessories when women “dressed?” Actually, properly, perfectly dressed.

If you want to see actual, proper dressing, head down to the V&A now until next February 2018 and see Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. All the details are on the V&A website.

The outfits are hard to capture through the glass, but you get the idea. Members’ week at the museum and this was the preview night before it opens to the public this weekend.

End of an Era

So, news broke yesterday that Jenna Lyons, CEO of J.Crew would be stepping down after 26 years at the company. In the US, J.Crew was always the hipper, cooler version of L.L. Bean or Lands’ End in the early 90s, and originally, it was catalogue only shopping with the order form attached at the centre. There were no stores. None. And I can remember waiting anxiously every time that new catalogue came out. My first purchases with my first credit card? A colour-block pique polo shirt and a pair of what would now be considered “high-waist” denim shorts. Also a navy blue polka dot (cotton) bikini. Love xx (and what does it say that I still remember that 20-something years later?)

At the time I didn’t even know who Jenna Lyons was – but she put the adorable critter embroidered clothing everywhere (I have turtle critter chinos I break out in the summer – still).. and the combo of sequins in the daytime! SEQUINS. With camo and stripes. Yes! And shoes that were sparkly and didn’t even seemingly go with the rest of your outfit.

Arguably, many have had it right over the last 5+ years or so – massive company debt, over-priced items, and sinking quality. I have cashmere from 10 years ago and TBH, it’s better quality than what’s in stores today. Basics that were staples of any closet disappeared in lieu of trendy items that were ridiculously priced. Remember when the Cece ballet flat came back? It wasn’t nearly as good as the original.

And what happened to classics like the basic rollneck sweater/jumper that came in 100% cotton, cashmere, or a cotton/cashmere blend? Gone. Scoop back swimsuit? Gone, though it did come back briefly last year. Café capri pants/trousers? Round toe Chelsea boots with the basic 1″ heel? Schoolboy blazer? (Ok, fine, it was replaced with the Rhodes blazer, but still…) Biennial satchel/hobo bags? Flannel-lined chinos? Cotton blend swimsuits? Etta block heels? And the basic barn jacket with the corduroy collar?

Accessories also made J.Crew a staple across the country. The bubble necklace that everyone had in seemingly every colour imaginable – and copied endlessly by the likes of Bauble Bar and others? Chunky pearls and sparkly statement necklaces during the day? Absolutely! Don’t forget the beaded rose necklace too, or the pretty much any necklace that would seem more appropriate during the evening. But hell, New Balance became cool again and everyone had #shinyponies.

Maybe we should’ve known the end was nigh, as even the wedding collection disappeared last year and one of the ruffled, flamenco-inspired skirts shown for SS17 last autumn had an asking price of $900? Regardless, I’ll miss Jenna and no longer be afraid of sequins during the day and be ok knowing camo, like leopard, is a neutral. I’ll still be a J.Crew girl.

To Sale or Not to Sale?

Ugh. The dreaded sale post, right? Everyone has sales going right now so where to begin. Honestly, I’m in the dilemma myself. I didn’t get clothes or anything for Christmas (spent all that cash on Bella Freud weeks earlier!) and the real question is do I really, and I mean really, really need anything? Maybe. I have carts going at five (or more!) shops online. One day, I’ll be a brave little soldier and go into the city on Boxing Day.

At home, I have, literally, 6 navy sweaters. 3 blue (not navy), 5 grey sweaters. 5 black. A pink. A burgundy/pink stripe. A cream. 3 green/olive. 2 Fair Isle (1 red, 1 cream). A YSL in a Neopolitan type stripe (pink, orange, brown) that I never wear but too leery to put in the charity bag. 4 grey sweatshirts. And the list goes on… (all of these are pretty accurate counts too). Do I need another sweater?

Same dilemma with jeans, coats/jackets, pants/trousers, shoes. I do pretty big purges when I move and have downgraded lots (though there are a few pieces I wish I hadn’t given away – which is always the case right?) and am really trying to keep things of quality that I wear ALL. THE. TIME. I always grab the same pieces from my closet.

 

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Boden Supersoft Jumper: was £89.50, now £35.80 in navy

 

So before you really spend, think if you need it. Are you upgrading? Cheap polyester/acrylic/blend for something 100% cashmere, cotton, or merino?  Are you replacing items that are worn out? On the t-shirts, I certainly need that, as I find my expensive t-shirts get tiny, tiny holes right where the button on my jeans sits, which is !@£$%^&* annoying after spending £30+ for a single shirt! I don’t need to look like a homeless person with holes in my shirts. Is your white t-shirt faded and not so white anymore? Soles on your shoes worn out and the cobbler can’t help? Do you look and see you only have brown boots and could use a black pair? Always wearing pants/trousers to work and want to try a dress or vice versa?

 

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& Other Stories Zebraic Frilled Dress: was £69, now £48

 

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Finery London Albany Buckle Wrap Dress: was £69, now £34

Honestly, I haven’t ordered from Finery before, but I really like a number of things on their site, and I have heard great things from people who have ordered from them. Also, many items are made in the UK, which I think is a plus. The bag below is made in Italy, but when you click on the description of an item on their site, it will actually list the country, not just “imported.”

 

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Finery London Esther Leather Bucket Bag: was £125, now £62

And I have these pants/trousers in black, but tempted to get them in navy. I’ve worn mine with Stan Smith, not heels:

 

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Next Wide Slouch Trousers (125-378): was £25, now £12

In a nutshell, think carefully. Edit and re-edit those online bags before entering your card information and really consider if you need it. I’m still deciding. And if it sells out before I’m ready to click “buy” then TBH, I didn’t need it after all, right?

 

 

 

 

And as always, photos belong to the companies listed for copyright, trademark and all that legal stuff.

 

#OOTD

A few samplings of various #ootd (outfit of the day) posts that can be found over on my Instagram account. Most are everyday clothes for going nowhere special – just running around town, walking dogs, etc. I am a general jeans and t-shirt person but do have a very unhealthy habit of very expensive shoes that rarely if ever get worn. I also do not believe yoga pants/trousers should ever be worn in public unless you’re on your way to/from yoga or pilates class or out walking the dog (hence, I only own 1 pair).

Black, navy, browns, and denim pretty much dominate! And yes, I even own one of those totally country tweed field coats – which is about 15yrs old. I spent a small fortune on it (at the time, due to the exchange rate) on a very, very special trip to the UK long before I moved here. Being such a classic, I will never get rid of it.

I’m equally lucky because a dear friend is a fashion designer (high-end menswear) and he did a capsule collection a few years ago I was lucky enough to get several very limited pieces from, including the tan faux-leather jacket and the blue flat velvet pants/trousers and jacket above. I hope he decides to do these special women’s collections every few years or so!

London

I spent the day in London with my mom (which is rare as she never takes time off work for anything frivolous, real or imagined). The plan was to attend the Bella Freud sample sale (seriously, it was good as I scored 75% off a cashmere sweater), then check out the Christmas offerings at Fortnum & Mason, St. James Square and that general area.

A word about sample sales if you’ve never been to one (most of this is commons sense, but always helpful to get some suggestions, right?):

  1. Get there first thing. If they announce 10am, be there at 945am!
  2. Wear layers (like a thin t-shirt or tank/vest top for shirts, or tights if you may purchase sweats/trousers, etc.). Depending on the designer, it makes it easier to try things on if you aren’t familiar with that designer’s particular sizing, or if you want to be 100% sure of a purchase, as all sales are final.
  3. Leave your kids at home. Unless it’s an event for children’s clothing, trust me, don’t bring them. Politely (or not) wrangling for something amongst 50+ other women doesn’t make it kid friendly.
  4. Set a budget. I’ve never been invited to a Gucci sale (I think you’d have to spend WAYYYYYYYY more than I do there to get that invite!), but you should have a reasonable idea of what the designer’s clothes normally cost. That being said, sample sale prices should be 60% off or more – giving you reasonable “spend” expectations.
  5. Know the style of what you may/not be looking for. Easy, right? But just remember, we all get sucked into the huge savings dilemma. If you know the designer does “fun” clothes and colours, no matter how good a deal it may be, do you really need the lime green and orange dot shirt for £20 that’s regularly £300 if you’ll never wear it when you really wanted a plain white shirt?

For me personally, I got there about 10min later than I hoped due to some tube/train delays. Not a big deal, but there were easily already 50 women in the small conference room literally grabbing ARMLOADS of knits! And in that 10min, I missed out on the candle sets that would’ve made the best Christmas gifts for friends. Boo. I picked up a fun sweatshirt for the price of one at NEXT and a cashmere sweater that I should get lots of use out of!

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Poor lighting this morning, but this is really cobalt blue, with light blue and yellow accents

Plans, of course, went awry, when we had to go to the Apple Store to see about fixing a problem with her phone. Unable to get a set Genius Bar appointment, we (surprisingly) were able to get a “walk-in” appointment within about 3 hours (trust me this is a miracle in itself), but it also meant we couldn’t stray too far from the store as they could text at any time saying the appointment was imminent! So, pounding up and down Regent Street it was! And of course, the minute we finally decided to get lunch, they texted to say it was appointment time – resulting in a sprint back up Regent as it now or never, as there were no more appointments that day! Ugh. Kudos to Apple though as they fixed the problem!

We also escaped London by the skin of our teeth, as we grabbed the tube and train from Kings Cross before the massive tube and train shutdown that plagued the rest of the city about an hour later on Wednesday evening!