- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Id0FrFe2.dpuf Hell or High Fashion: 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 Days Of Skirts

In the midst of 5 Days Of Skirts, a conversation with a friend about style made me think about the name of my blog: Hell or High Fashion.  "High Fashion" is very different from run-of-the-mill fashion.  Something can be in "fashion" without being "High Fashion"- bandage dresses and other forms of club-wear come to mind as "fashionable" things that the "High Fashion" world would scoff at.

There are a bunch of subjective definitions of "High Fashion" floating around on the internet (I even found this pretty ridiculous WikiHow article on "How To Look High Fashion"), but the most clear definition I could find was "the art of the application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories. It is influenced by cultural and social attitudes."  Essentially, High Fashion is art.  It's creativity. High Fashion encompasses the avant garde trends that trickle down to the mass retailers, who then process the trendy content and push out socially-acceptable versions of high-fashion concepts. 

To the layperson, High Fashion is Vogue.  It's the Paris runway shows.  It's clothing that doesn't care about practicality.  High Fashion is not what you find at Forever21- although those pieces are inspired by High Fashion.  

So how come my blog is called Hell or High Fashion (even though I wear Forever21 pretty much everyday)?  Because even though I'm rarely wearing High Fashion pieces, I always aim to incorporate High Fashion concepts into my everyday wear.  In 5 Days of Skirts, I'll show you exactly how I do it!

Day 1

Ostwald Helgason SS14, Stella McCartney FW13

Blazer, H&M.  Set, shoes, and bag, Forever 21.

On Day 1 of skirts, I drew inspiration from both the Fall 2013 runways and the Spring 2014 runways.  Matching sets are a huge trend in the high fashion community right now- I loved Ostwald Helgason's interpretation for Spring- so I reached for my matching floral skirt set from Forever 21.  Even though it's LA, it's still too chilly to walk around outside in a mini skirt and a crop top, so I threw a navy and grey pinstriped blazer from H&M on top.  This pattern and color combo was a huge Fall 2013 trend, most notably at Stella McCartney, and when I saw this blazer for just $50 (compared with McCartney's $1000+ price tag) I couldn't resist!  A cross-body bag and leopard pumps broke up the dark look.

So, even though I ripped trends from the high fashion runways, the look is 100% me.  Why?  I mixed and matched them in my own way!  Combining Fall and Spring trends in a fresh way ensured that I didn't look like a walking ad for the latest runway looks. 

Day 2

3.1 Phillip Lim FW13
Sweater, Banana Republic.  Shoes & Skirt, Zara.  Necklace, Forever 21.

Day 2 was the day that got me thinking about Hell or High Fashion!  I paired a patched-up denim pencil skirt from Zara with a simple black Banana Republic sweater- I loved the way this look mixed street wear trends with a polished silhouette.  When I met up with a friend that day, she (lovingly) teased me about my outfit, saying the skirt gave me "a mom butt" and that I looked like "a 90s Rachel Greene."  Little did she know that this patchwork skirt is actually on the cutting edge of high fashion!

The skirt was inspired by the Fall 2013 3.1 Phillip Lim runway- the designer showed jeans, shorts, and denim jackets covered in biker-esque patches and I loved the idea!  When I saw this (blatantly knocked-off) skirt at Zara, I was excited that I could incorporate the look into my wardrobe on a budget.  My friend and I clearly had different opinions of this piece- but that's why high fashion is great!  The avant garde ideas on the runway aren't made to please everyone- they're meant to speak to a select group of people, who can take those ideas and run with them.  The 3.1 Phillip Lim runway show spoke to me, and I put my own spin on the designer's aesthetic with this look.

Day 3

Burberry SS14
Top and skirt, vintage.  Shoes and Jacket, Topshop.

Day 3 was Burberry day!  When I saw Burberry's Spring 2014 runway collection, I knew it would inspire me to break out some of my favorite vintage pieces.  Burberry's designer Christopher Bailey sent a gorgeous vintage-inspired black and white print down the catwalk, and I actually owned an authentic vintage crochet top with the same print!  Ahead of the trend and I didn't even know it.  

The Burberry show featured a lot of pastel colors, like baby pink and powder blue, so I paired my vintage top with a pretty pink polka dotted skirt (also vintage).  At night I added my floral leather jacket to the mix, but wore it over my shoulders (another big high fashion trend- read my blog on it here).  I love that the Burberry show drove me to wear things I already own in a new and exciting way!

Day 4

Tibi FW13
Turtleneck, H&M.  Sweater & skirt, Forever 21.  Shoes, Steve Madden.
Things got dark & moody on Day 4, because I woke up late & my apartment was freezing.  I wanted to throw something out that was easy and warm, but I didn't want to forget about my 5 Days Of Skirts challenge.  I decided on a cozy turtleneck worn under an oversized, embellished sweatshirt, a leather skirt, and black pumps.  

Like I mentioned in 5 Days Of Pants, turtlenecks are back in a big way!  They were seen all over the Fall 2013 runways, but my favorite turtleneck looks were those from Tibi.  Tibi gave the formerly-square turtleneck a dark, edgy vibe by pairing them with loads of leather and oversized coats and sweatshirts.  Tibi's version was a little too dark for me, though, so I made sure my sweater sparkled and I showed a little more skin than their models!  A leather mini with punky zipper detailing and classic black pumps made the look less "Tibi" and more "Jessica".

Day 5

Sister by Sibling (2) SS14, Burberry SS14
Skirt, Kymehra.  Top, Kate Spade Saturday.  Shoes, Steve Madden.

On Day 5 I debuted my new stylehaus skirt!  I LOOOOOVE this skirt.  I think it marries classic sensibilities with a modern dose of sex appeal and it's perfect.  It also happens to echo some pretty high-fashion concepts from the Spring 2014 runways!

One of my favorite runway shows for SS14 was Sister by Sibling's London show.  A throwback to 50s/60s style, Sister by Sibling updated vintage silhouettes in modern materials, like fishnet, with grungy styling.  Sheer skirts worn over cute undies were seen at Sister (and at Burberry), and my skirt took the trend and made it wearable (skimpy booty shorts are socially acceptable, undies are not).  I added a striped tee with a high neckline and my go-to black pumps to add some conservative touches to the otherwise revealing outfit.

So what did 5 Days of Skirts teach me about my relationship with High Fashion?  While I may not be wearing genuine high-fashion garments, every look that I put together is inspired by high fashion.  The high fashion world is a bag of tricks that I can pull from when I get dressed ("I love the turtleneck look at Tibi") and supplement with my own personal style ("BUT Tibi's runway was too dark for me").  

A lot of people are quick to mock the more out-of-the-box runway looks (Jimmy Kimmel's piece on Fashion Week was hysterical if a little judgmental), but most of the time they're not meant to be worn literally.  If you want to get inspired to expand your personal style, just look to high fashion.  Style.com is a good place to start; click on the "Fashion Shows" tab and go nuts.  You're welcome.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Days Of Pants

After 5 Days Of Dresses, I wasn't quite ready to commit to another 5 days of baring my legs with skirts...and so began 5 Days Of Pants! Since I had been turning to standard blue jeans during my style rut, I wanted to show myself that it's possible to wear jeans and still look fashion-forward.

Day 1

Top, Topshop.  Jeans, Forever 21.  Purse, Ferragamo.  Shoes, Steve Madden.

On Day 1 of 5 Days Of Pants I actually built the outfit around my top!  I bought this fierce, fuzzy sweater from Topshop in the midst of my dress phase and could not wait to wear it.  I thought the slate gray color would pair really nicely with navy (that color combo is huge for fall!), so I dug around in my closet and came up with these blue plaid jeans from Forever 21.  Since my shirt was so cuddly and...big, a structured navy Ferragamo bag gave the outfit some shape.  I added black heels to bring another nuetral into the mix, and topped it off with a 60s-inspired sphere ring.  I loved this outfit!

Day 2

Jeans, H&M.  Top, Forever 21.  Blazer, Vintage.  Shoes, Sam Edelman.  Hat, Nordstrom.

On Day 2 I ran back to my go-to jeans.  The contrast of something casual with something fancy is always fun, so I decided to pair them with a delicate beaded tank top- very 1920s.  Since I was headed to work, I threw a neutral blazer and nude pumps into the mix, but it still felt a little too plain.  Instead of reaching for a statement necklace or a fun piece of jewelry to jazz it up, I grabbed a baseball hat!  Baseball caps are actually super on-trend this season, and this one gave my outfit the pop that it needed.

Day 3

Shirt, Zara.  Pants, Forever 21.  Shoes, Mi Piaci.

I spent Day 3 changing my license plates, getting a smog check, and sitting at the DMV for 3 hours...so needless to say, I was looking to be comfortable.  I reached for a comfy pair of black ankle pants and a black tee shirt.  Since these pieces were soooo basic, I knew I needed to amp things up with my footwear.  I grabbed purple crystal-embellished brogues that I bought on my trip to New Zealand Fashion Week and called it a day. Purple lipstick instead of my usual red gave the whole look a goth-y vibe.  This is probably the only time you will ever see me with my hair up!

Day 4

Pants, 3.1 Phillip Lim.  Top, Nordstrom.  Necklace, Forever 21.

Day 4 was spent filming a segment on red carpet fashion at work, so I wanted to look polished.  I turned to my wide-leg pants from 3.1 Phillip Lim (I last wore them here), and added a black cropped sweater.  To give some warmth to the black and white look, I chose a wide brown belt with bronze detailing.  Since gold is warm tone (and silver is cool), I knew that my chunky gold chain link necklace would be the perfect accessory.  My shoes didn't matter, because you never saw them under my pant legs, but I wore my highest black heels to make my legs look as long as possible!

Day 5

Top, blazer, and belt, H&M.  Jeans, Naked & Famous.  Clutch, MCM.  Shoes, Steve Madden. Necklace, Topshop.

For Day 5 I was back to jeans, but this time I reached for a pair from Naked & Famous.  This brand seriously makes the perfect jeans:  there's very little stretch, so they keep their shape and wear really well!  When I first got them, they were long and boot cut, but after seeing this street style shot I was inspired to chop them into ankle jeans with a pair of kitchen scissors!  I like the result- they look just a little more chic than the originals.  Turtlenecks are back in style (yay!), and I wore mine under a grey and navy (there's that color combo again...) blazer with the arms pushed up.  A big belt buckle and a statement necklace added some pizzazz, and my MCM clutch served as a pop of (neutral) color.

I didn't have as much fun during 5 Days Of Pants as I did with my dresses, but all in all I'm proud that I pushed myself to take denim and comfy pants to another level.  It just goes to show that you can be comfortable and cool with a little styling!

Stay tuned for 5 Days Of Skirts!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Five Days of Dresses

I've been in a pretty deep fashion rut.  

Living in Los Angeles was starting to take its toll on my style; I succumbed to the easy, laid-back vibe of the city and could hardly be bothered to dress up the same jeans-and-tee-shirt combo past a pair of high heels.  Balancing my career as a social media coordinator and writer at my day job (read my blogs on stylehaus.com/blog!) with  my own start-up business as a personal shopper leaves little time (and money) for shopping, so my wardrobe hasn't been getting any new action, either.

Finally, something snapped me out of my funk last week!  After reorganizing my closet and selling half of it to Wasteland, I decided to challenge myself. My new "5 Days Of..." challenge means that I spend 5 days wearing one kind of clothing- 5 Days of Dresses, 5 Days of Skirts, etc. in the hopes of reigniting my passion for (my own) fashion.  To ensure that I don't cheat, I'm documenting my challenge on Hell or High Fashion. Here are my 5 Days of Dresses!

Day 1.

Dress, Cynthia Vincet.  Boots, Joie.  Clutch, MCM.  Necklace, Forever 21.

On Day 1, I wanted to make sure that I stayed comfy- the last thing I needed was an uncomfortable dress to make me regret my self-imposed challenge.  I opted for this Cynthia Vincent sweater dress (which I pulled out of the donation pile at the last second) with over-the-knee boots, an oversized MCM clutch, and a chain-link necklace.  I like this look because it's pretty basic, but mixes neutrals in a fun and unexpected way.  There's a fashion rule in place that says, "Don't mix black and brown."  But breaking the rules is fun, and I think it works!

Day 2.

Shirt, DVF.  Overalls, Forever 21.  Shoes, J Crew.  Bracelets, Vintage & Forever 21.

On Day 2, things got a little more playful.  I pulled this short sleeved sweater (I love the flower applique detail on the sleeves) and overall dress out of my "Tailoring" pile and got to work-- I was able to fix the flaws on both of these pieces with my limited sewing skills, saving myself a trip to the tailor.  Excited to have them back in rotation, I wore them together and added heeled loafers and a few gold bangles!

Day 3.

Dress, H&M.  Jacket, Forever 21.  Bag, Betsey Johnson.  Belt, Vintage.  Shoes, Sam Edelman.

By Day 3 I was back to my old self, accentuating my waistline and piling on the accessories!  I hadn't worn this dress in almost a year (it was my Thanksgiving 2012 dress), and it was about time it got some love.  A cute keyhole-detailed belt in navy cinched my waist, and a bomber jacket thrown over my shoulders provided a trendy touch (check out my article on the over-the-shoulder trend here).  Nude pumps and a bulldog-boasting Betsey Johnson bag were ladylike finishing touches!

Day 4:

Dress, Topshop.  Sweater and boots, Forever 21.  Bangles, Jewelmint.  Bag, Will Leather Goods.
Dress, Forever 21.  Shoes, Target.  Necklace, Topshop.

On Day 4 I went back to my laid-back comfort zone, but managed to make it work with a dress!  Slip dresses, like this one from Topshop, are ideal for feminine but comfortable outfits; they look chic but feel like pajamas!  A chunky cardigan kept me warm, and chunky black and gold boots were a masculine contrast to the feminine leopard print.

I changed into this LBD for a whiskey tasting date night with my man, and accessorized with leopard pumps and a lucite statement necklace.  Simple but perfect for a night out on the town!

Day 5:

Dress, DVF.  Shoes, Topshop.  Bag, Forever 21.
Day 5 brought me to the end of my 5 Days Of Dresses challenge, so I celebrated my success with my favorite Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress!  This dress is a go-to for me: it's taken me from job interviews to first dates to styling gigs and it's never let me down. When I wear it I feel flirty, feminine, and strong- there's no stopping me in my DVF!  I paired it with floral pumps from Topshop, a ladylike bag, and a tiny beetle pin on my lapel.

So there you have it...I'm slowly but surely climbing out of my style rut.  Next week, I'll show you guys how I inject style into printed pants and dressy slacks in 5 Days Of Pants!

Do you have any suggestions?  What should I do 5 Days Of next?

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Sweat

Welcome back to Hell or High Fashion!  Life has been pretty crazy lately and I'm sad to admit that Hell or High Fashion had to take a backseat to my "day job" blog, stylehaus.com/blog.  Have you been checking it for daily style updates??

While the stylehaus blog covers lots of different topics, it doesn't ever touch on my personal style, bargain finds, style tips, or outfit details.  After lots of questions about when Hell or High Fashion was going to make a comeback, I decided to bring it back for good...fingers crossed!

I'm going to take a more laid-back approach to this new phase of double-blogging- I'll post here when I want to/have time to, no stressing over it- so what better way to re-launch HOHF than with a laid-back look?  I've been super into making sweatpants stylish lately, and it's much easier than it sounds.  This outfit has been a go-to look for me when I want to be comfy but the situation requires a pulled-together presentation.

Top, Forever 21.  Shorts, thrifted.  Shoes, Topshop.  Necklace, Zara.

Let's start with the shorts: Bermuda shorts (yes, the same style that's generally synonymous with tourists and Florida retirement communities) are back.  They showed up all over the Spring 2014 runways, and somehow designers like Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg made Bermudas look edgy instead of elderly.  After seeing them over and over again in badass materials like leather and fishnet, I dug up an old pair of soft gym shorts to try to get the look for myself.  I think they work!  The slouchy fit and frayed hem feel effortless and cool for the new style season.

Once I had the shorts, I had to figure out what to wear them with.  Structured tops didn't look right, and luxurious materials made the shorts look dingy- so I scoured Forever 21 for the perfect matching top (on the cheap) and came up with this embellished gem.  This sweatshirt is the perfect compliment to my repurposed gym shorts because it doesn't stray too far from its casual counterpart- the heather gray material and rolled up sleeves are all loungewear, but the floral shaped crystals take the look to a luxe place.  Perfect!

An exaggerated statement necklace from Zara made the outfit a little more glamorous while adding a pop of color, and my favorite Lucite-heeled Topshop shoes were a neutral (but still fab) touch.  I toted around a structured bag from Ferragamo to add some shape to the look, and voila!  Laid-back glamour to the max.

Style Tips from "No Sweat":

1.  Fashion doesn't always equal "uncomfortable".  If you want to stay comfy & cozy, there's a way to do it that doesn't involve looking like you just rolled out of bed.  Stylized sweats are becoming more and more popular, and silky harem pants are another comfy way to stay in style! Remember to add a few statement accessories like a big necklace or an edgy clutch to the mix so that it's clear your look is laid-back, not lazy.  

2.  Bermuda shorts are "in"!  While this is great news for gals who aren't fans of baring their booties, it's still a tricky trend to navigate.  Like I mentioned, Bermuda cuts were formerly relegated to an older crowd, so many shoppable versions in stores right now won't work for a younger clientele.  To find the best Bermudas for your young body, look for a straight leg cut that's not too tight or too baggy.  Slouchy materials like loose silks or thin leathers will evoke the laid-back luxury of the new trend, but if you want to stick to denim then look for a "boyfriend" fit that hits just above the knee.  

3.  Old clothes collecting dust in the back of your closet are probably there for a reason- or else you'd have thrown them out by now, right?  Everything old becomes new again, so keep your eye on cutting-edge fashion sites to scout out new trends as they arise.  Chances are, you'll be able to recreate the look from pieces you already have in your closet- you just might have to get creative.  Maybe your old gym shorts will become your new go-to pair, or maybe an old high school tee makes a perfect (and authentic) ironic-hipster statement.  You don't always have to buy something new to wear something new!

Have the questions been piling up since I've been out of blog land? If you're interested in getting a new look but don't know how to go about it, don't hesitate to ask me for help!  I'll write a dedicated blog post about any reader questions I get...leave yours in the comments or send me your questions through Facebook or Twitter!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Red, White, and Blue

Top and sunnies, F21.  Shorts, Ralph Lauren Golf.  Belt, Vintage, Shoes, H&M.

I celebrated the 4th of July with a classic BBQ with friends, and took the "classic" route when getting dressed as well.  I started the day off in blue and white polka dotted shorts with my favorite Killlers tee shirt, but something felt off.  While patriotic, my outfit was a little lazy- and what better time to go all-out than the 4th??

I changed into this little cropped top soon after to up my fancy factor.  While I love to show a little bit of tummy, I've never been one to go overboard with skimpiness.  To temper the revealing nature of this top, I opted for the most covered-up pair of shorts I own:  these "mom" shorts from the Ralph Lauren Golf collection.  I think they are SO funny; I found them in Second Time Around years ago for less than $10 and knew I had to have them.  This is actually one of the only times I've worn them in 4 years- sometimes a piece that seems useless will show its worth when the perfect outfit comes along.

To add some more white to my blue-centric outfit, I threw on this vintage leather belt and matching off-white pumps from H&M.  I just scored these babies at H&M's summer sale for $15!  They're going to be my go-to summer shoes for sure.  Red made an appearance with my usual red lip and nowhere else; I loved that this outfit didn't go overboard with American pride!

Fashion Tips from "Red, White, and Blue":

1.   Holidays are an excuse to dress up.  Take these opportunities to step out of your comfy comfort zone and put a little pizzazz in your outfit!  Many people worry about dressing up during the day because it will seem "out of place" or "weird" if their normal mode of dressing is super casual.  Little holidays- 4th of July, your birthday, the first day of summer- are the perfect times to try out an amped-up look!  

2.  Don't pay attention to that old closet rule, "If you haven't worn it in 6 months, get rid of it."  I hear this all the time as a wardrobe stylist, and it's just not a good marker for what should stay and what should go!  These shorts have been waiting patiently to be worn for 4 years, and they ended up being perfect today.  If you feel connected to a certain item that hasn't yet seen the light of day, there's hope.  You love it for a reason- keep it and see what happens!

3.  Summer sales are happening now- go take advantage of them!  Sales can be hard to shop, but keep you eye out for year-round basics that have been marked down.  These white/nude heels will be a staple in my wardrobe no matter the season!  When sale shopping, be on the lookout for basic denim, little black dresses, simple heels, and basic tees.  You can get these for next to nothing and they'll end up being power players in your wardrobe!

I'm now the resident blogger for stylehaus.com!  For more frequent updates from my team and I, check out our site daily!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wedding Belle

Dress, Zara.  Jacket & Clutch, H&M.  Shoes, Beauty Heel.
This weekend I attended a wedding for the first time since I was about 10.  Getting ready posed a challenge: having never been to a wedding as an adult, did I own anything wedding-appropriate?  I enlisted the help of my friend Annika (who's in the midst of planning her own wedding) and got some really helpful tips: absolutely no white dresses and no black dresses!  A trip through my closet proved unsuccessful- I am the queen of the little black dress.  Everything else I owned seemed to be just a tad off: either it felt too skimpy and revealing or it was too crazy and "look at me!" to wear to a wedding.  I was glad for the excuse to go shopping!
I knew I wanted to take my outfit in a bright neon direction.  I've been super into yellows and oranges for the past few weeks and just recieved these citrus-hued heels in the mail from HauteLook.com that were begging to be worn.  When I came across this fluorescent floral dress in Zara I had to say, "I do!"  Even though it boasts bouquets of neon roses, the black and white patterned base of the dress serves to quiet the loud colors.
To keep the look wedding-appropriate, I knew I needed a jacket or sweater to throw on top.  Matching a black, pink, or orange cardigan would've been too obvious, so I decided to riff off of the black and white base of the dress and came up with the idea to rock a patterned tweed jacket.  I found this topper in H&M and fell in love with its little details.  The unique collar, epauletted shoulders, and zipper trim on the sleeves keep things interesting.  I love that this jacket kind of matches the dress...but also kind of doesn't.  That unexpectedness is what makes fashion fun for me!
Ring, vintage.  Bracelet, F21.  Bag, H&M.  Nail color, American Apparel.
Now, for the add-ons!  I had so much fun playing around with color here.  Again, the basic black-and-white base and jacket gave me a great jumping-off point: adding little colorful touches didn't overwhelm the look, because the neutral-to-bright proportion was always favoring neutrals.  Neon yellow nails paired with a vintage purple cocktail ring looked picture-perfect with the pop of green on my clutch.  I added a simple silver chain link bracelet to the mix too!
My new favorite shoes and matching orange lips were the finishing touches, and voila!:  a wedding-appropriate outfit that doesn't sacrifice personal style.
Fashion Tips from "Wedding Belle":
1.  Dress to the occasion, but there's no need to sacrifice your personal style in the process!  This suggestion directly applies to the men out there:  if you're not a suit-and-tie guy, on dressier occasions you can be stuck wearing something you feel super uncomfortable in all night.  Make a personal statment with your suit to make dressing up fun:  keep your dress shirt untucked and add a pair of fresh sneakers to your suit, or try a funky bow tie instead of the traditional skinny tie.  Fun belt buckles, pocket squares, and different colored pants and jackets are some other ways to keep your suit from feel stuffy.
2.  When mixing bright colors, make sure you add a healthy dose of neutral tones as well.  Piling on layers of neons can go wrong really quickly- you can end up looking childlike or just plain tacky.  My mix of yellow, orange, pink, purple, and green isn't overkill because black and white are the main events in this outfit.  Try pairing white sundress with a bright belt and sandals, or adding a yellow tie to a black-and-white suit look.  For another example, check out this post from a few months back.
3.  Don't always go for the obvious choice.  Sure, a pencil skirt and button down shirt are a great basic combo- but if you look past the traditional choices, you'll find tons of head-turning options!  Wear that same pencil skirt with a tucked-in tee and denim jacket, or try it with an oversized tank and leather vest.  These unexpected ideas will have people ogling your one-of-a-kind style.
How do you feel about this Spring's neon trend?  Will you be using these tips to create the perfect colorful combo?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Screen Queen

Skirt, Burberry.  Sweater, F21.  Shoes, H&M.  Bag, vintage.

I've always used clothing as a way to make a personal statement, but a new trend in the fashion world is making it easier than ever to get your point across.  Screened tees and statement sweaters are everywhere lately and I, for one, am really excited about it! 
Screened tees (t-shirts featuring screen printed graphics) used to have a very plebian feel.  Clothing with words and pictures blazoned across the front were for the masses, something you picked up at your father's company picnic or as merch at a concert.  But with the rise of the hipster came the rise of the screened tee: suddenly it was COOL to wear that company picnic shirt (with a healthy dose of irony), and retailers even started making faux-vintage clothing advertising imaginary little league teams and field days.  The high-end fashion world has finally caught up with under-the-radar hipsters, and now luxury statement shirts are all the rage. 

While I love the hipster interpretation, I wanted to upgrade my newest statement sweater with a Parisian-in-the-park feel to match it's message en francais.  The nautical stripes on this Forever 21 knit give it a springtime feel, so I imagined myself a French girl on her way to the local farmer's  market, and this is the outfit that I came up with!
It's Spring here in California but the days have actually been pretty gloomy and cold.  To achieve that warm-weather vibe and still protect myself from the LA elements, I chose pieces that look fresh and current but are executed in heavier wools.  This knit sweater paired perfectly with my favorite vintage find: a wool perma-pleated midi skirt from Burberry!  I found this gem hidden in the 80% off rack of Second Time Around in Boston years ago and it's been with me ever since.  Even though I don't get a lot of use out of this skirt, I feel like it's a legacy item that I can pass down to my granddaughters someday- what's more classic than vintage Burberry?!
I kept the rest of my outfit really simple- no jewelry, casual wedge sandals, easy straw purse.  I have endless coffee table books on French fashion, and it seems the mark of true Parisian style is not caring too much!  Obssessing over the perfect outfit and piling on the accessories tends to make you look like you're trying too hard, and that elusive "je ne sais quoi" is lost in the sauce.   Simplicity is key!
Of course, there are tons of other ways to fashionably flaunt the statement tee trend.  I snapped some pics a few weeks ago (pre-haircut) of some different ways to rock a screened look, like pairing an oversized sweater with skintight leggings or rolling up the sleeves on a short sleeved tee and combining it with an edgy skirt.

Fashion Tips from "Screen Queen":
1.  Get in on the screened tee action!  No matter how you wear it- ironic hipster or high-fashion fashionista- the look is cool, not corny.  Urban Outfitters has a great selection of funny statement tees & tanks for guys, and I'm loving the newest designer offerings for us girls.  This Nueva York tee and this cheeky "Tea Shirt" top are high on my list of must-haves!
2.  Even though it's technically Spring, we're experiencing left-over-winter-weather all over the country.  You can get a head start on Spring fashion by adding a few pieces to your collection that are bright and on-trend for the SS13 season, but are made of heavy knit cottons or warm wools. Maybe it's too cold to break out your favorite pink tank top right now, but try a pair of jeans in that same bright Spring pink- you'll be covered from the cold AND ready for the new season!
3.  In a style rut?  Create a character for yourself and dress to their personality!  In this outfit I became a young Parisian about town, which let me experiment with a new style.  Try dressing yourself as a 50s housewife, a 70s hippie, or a minimal 90s model- but limit yourself to what you already have in your closet.  That way, you get to experience a new way of putting things together, but it will still feel 100% you!
4.  Shop vintage and second-hand.  My vintage shopping runs have scored me this amazing Burberry skirt, classic Chanel flats, and quite a few Ferragamo bags that will always be in fashion.  I love the idea of buying a garment that has already lived a fabulous life!  I know these items will stand the test of time and be passed down from generation to generation.  It's never too early to start cultivating a collection that will be coveted by your kids and grandkids!

Did you guys see my StyleSnap on Instagram yesterday?  For mini-blogs between Hell or High Fashion posts, be sure to follow me @jdefino.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Bug's Life

Shirt, Gap.  Sweater & jeans, H&M.  Shoes, DVF.  Necklace, Alexis Bittar.  Hat, F21.

I love bugs.  I don't necessarily care for the real-life kind, but put a cartoon crawler or sparkly spider on literally any type of apparel and I'll buy it!  This obsession has led to more bug-printed clothing, shoes, rings, and brooches than I can count on my hands and feet- and I still can't stop!  This ladybug purse, these spider sandals, and these eight-legged earrings are all at the top of my "Buy" list.   I'm going to make such a great eccentric old cat lady someday!
While my wildlife wardrobe will of course look amazing at 80, I don't want to give off that "old lady" vibe just yet.  One of my constant challenges is wearing something that is seen as eccentric and old and making it young, hip, and fresh. 

I last wore this ladybug button down for my feature on KMS California UK's style website, RealStyleInspiration.com.  (You can read that article here!)  The shirt is pretty detailed: it's called the "Shrunken Boyfriend" fit (my favorite style from the Gap- I have about 3 different prints in this cut!) so it's a longer and looser than most dress shirts, and it's covered in pink and red cartoon critters. 
A tiny, all-over print on a white background tends to be less than flattering- white is somewhat widening, and a tiny print can make it seem like your body has a lot of surface space to cover- so I took care of that potential problem by throwing a sweater on top!  This ensures that the fun print gets shown off at the collar and tails, but a solid sweater offers a bit more shape.
Because one bug is never enough, I added my favorite Alexis Bittar scarab necklace to the mix!  This necklace is really special to me- I worked at Alexis Bittar for a long time and pined over this piece almost every day.  It was the most expensive piece in the whole collection though, and at $900 I knew I could never call it my own.   But as luck would have it, I landed my first paying modeling gig with KMS California when there was just one of these babies left in the store!  I used some of my earnings (coupled with a very generous employee discount) to treat myself.  Now this scarab piece will always remind me of that great experience- I'm so glad I indulged!!
To keep the knit sweater/bug combo fresh and fun, I added a slouchy pair of boyfriend jeans on bottom.  This low-riding, relaxed fit screams "trendy and young", which is just what I needed to balance out my octogenarian tendencies!  A very hipster bowler hat and the sexiest stilleto sandals I own reinforced the "hip twentysomething" idea, keeping my look balanced and age-approriate.
Fashion Tips from "A Bug's Life":
1.  Collect what you love, even if it's weird!  Do you have a strange obsession with a certain style or print?  Let yourself go crazy with it from time to time if it makes you happy!  Skull-printed pieces are everywhere right now- if that's your  print of choice, limit yourself to one or two pieces per outfit.  A skeleton scarf paired with skull stud earrings is chic when balanced out with classic neutrals; a skull scarf on top of a skull dress with skull jewelry is too much. 
2.  Act your age.  I really do believe that anyone of any age can rock any style trend, but you have to adapt it to your particular situation.  Of course a man in his 40s should wear skinny jeans if he wants to-- paired with a sleek button down and blazer (as opposed to a casual screened tee), skinnies can be totally age-appropriate! 
For us girls, playsuits and overalls are HUGE right now.  To avoid looking like a preschooler at the park, skip the socks & sneakers and try pairing your overalls with chunky heels.  Make it work!
3.  Treat yourself.  As fully grown adults, investing in clothing and accessories is a great idea (you know you're not going to grow out of it in a year!).  I've begun adding special pieces to my closet to commemorate big events in my life: I'll look back on my first modeling job every time I wear my Alexis Bittar necklace and be proud of the work I did.  I indulged in classic Prada heels for my college graduation, and now whenever I put them on I wear them with a sense of accomplishment. 
So buy yourself that classic leather wallet with your first paycheck from a new job, or celebrate a big birthday with a sleek pair of cufflinks.  You'll be reminded of the best times in your life when you wear them, and that sense of confidence is the best accessory!

I'm starting an in-between-blogs Instagram feature called "StyleSnaps" this week- little screen shots of outfit details that don't make it to Hell or High Fashion.  Follow me on Instagram @jdefino for more style updates!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Grin and Bare It

Jacket, AG.  Top, Forever 21.  Skirt, American Apparel.  Shoes, Zara.  Bag, Vintage.
It's definitely started to feel like Spring here in LA!  The days are longer and the temperature has been sitting pretty in the 70s for a few weeks now.  My extensive collection of little sundresses gives me a lot of great outfits to choose from, but they can get boring after a while.  Normally a one-piece, quick and easy dress devotee, I've been playing with separates more and more to create a unique Spring/Summer look.

One common complaint from my personal shopping clients is, "I don't know what to wear during the summer months."  The heat really seems to mess with people- I'm constantly hearing "It's too hot to put in effort!" or "I didn't have the energy to look further than a tank and cut-offs".  Hot weather isn't an excuse to forget about fashion- it IS a great excuse to challenge yourself though!

Head scarf, American Apparel.  Earrings, Forever 21.

This season, I've been focusing on creating a wardrobe of fun mix-and-match pieces that can be combined in infinite ways.  In fact, I haven't bought a dress in quite a while!  Crop tops, long printed skirts, and bright cardis and blazers have taken over my wardrobe.  With so many options, I'm guaranteeing that I'll never feel bored with Spring/Summer fashion again.

One of my favorite finds so far is this fun midi-length skirt from American Apparel.  This style is 50% off right now and available in tons of different colors, so go scoop one up now while you can!  "Midi" skirts (also known as "tea length") are really having a moment right now.  Because the length is so conservative, you can really have fun with color, print, and the other pieces you pair it with. 

I took that conservative/wild approach and paired my long, high-waisted skirt with a cute little cropped top!  I picked up this gem from Forever 21 last summer (with high-waisted short shorts to match) and it's been waiting for the perfect outfit to come along ever since.  I feel OK about baring my midriff to the world in this look because I'm covered up everywhere else!  I wouldn't dream of wearing a belly-baring shirt with a mini skirt or even with tight pants- a balance of tight/loose or short/long is what keeps a daring outfit classy.

That being said, sometimes the sun got a little too hot to handle in this jacket!

The 50s/60s flair of this look inspired me to do something a little different with my hair!  I grabbed a head wrap from American Apparel and channeled Brigitte Bardot in this iconic pic:

A little straw basket purse and mod floral earrings tied everything together for a classic but funky way to handle the spring heat! 

Fashion Tips from "Grin and Bare It":

1.  The weather is no excuse for sloppy dressing.  Cooler days give you the opportunity to experiment with layering, and hotter days should challenge you to come up with fun, unexpected combinations that won't weigh you down.  Jewelry and shoes are great ways to add more "oomph" to your summer look: you can wear your traditional summer uniform of short shorts and a tank, but elevate them with bright layered jewels or funky wedge sandals. 

2.  This season is the season to bare it!  Cropped tops and underwear-as-outerwear are huge in the fashion world, so there are plenty of options for you to try out.  Just remember that when you decide to show off one part of your body, you should conceal another- that sense of "peek-a-boo" keeps your look mysterious and classy instead of party-girl crazy.

3.  Separates are the best way to punch up your wardrobe.  While dresses are fun and easy, they don't offer as much variety as separate pieces do.  Have at least one bright shirt, one striped shirt, and one floral shirt in your wardrobe to pair with different colored jeans, printed shorts, and fun skirts- you'll never run out of options!

Now that we've covered warm weather wardrobes, what other common complaints do you have?  I'd love to help!