Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Halloween! 5 Costumes to NOT Wear this Year

Hello New Yorkers,

It's that time of year again...when everyone's id, ego and superego comes out in the form of costumes which (surprise!) provide tidbits of knowledge you never knew about your closest chums. That adorable, insanely intelligent chemistry buff who sits at the back of your class and only speaks when answering a question which stumps everyone else? He's dressing up as John McClane this year; Yippee Ki Yay M*****rs! And the impossibly alluring Gisele look-alike who works in the next cubicle? She might throw the office a curveball and be Jax Teller from "Sons of Anarchy". It truly is a spectacular holiday, because in our intensely judgmental and visually-oriented city, there are few times when one can truly throw on something outside realm of sanity and expect not to be followed by disapproving eyes. Try wearing sweatpants into the Hermes boutique on Madison, or scuffed heels into Soho's Chanel. Go on, I dare you! But Halloween is the great equalizer, when a creative and outlandish ensemble earns you unfettered grins, high fives, and major props. So go on, be your true geeky/cheeky/bundled up/dressed down honest-to-goodness self, because you've earned the right to express your inner character.

HOWEVER. There are some costumes which, women of America, I beg you please not to try. If only for the sake of the general reputation/representation of our gender to the outside world. And for fear of losing your girlfriends' respect. So bear in mind, the following are to be employed only as a lighthearted jest, and not actualized in the form of costumes.

1. Model Emily Ratajkowski in the “Blurred Lines” Music Video

As amusing as it would be to riff on this much-discussed video for Halloween, please reserve your topless-nude underpinning-platform sneaker combo to the comfort of your own home. Unless you feel like encouraging some of the anti-feminist behavior which Thicke may or may not be encouraging in the song.

2. Miley Cyrus in Like, Any Manifestation

I for one have seen enough of Miley’s tongue, Twerking, general lack of clothing, and bizarre antics for a lifetime. In addition, based upon recent public appearances, it seems as though this qualifies as another nearly clothing-optional costume idea. Girls of NYC—wear clothing on Halloween. It’s chilly outside.

3. Any of The Kardashians

I know you adore their I-don’t understand-how-life-works antics, but…been there done that. And I’m fairly sure the recent publicity stunt with Ben Flajnik takes them from bizarre to a downright, “Huh?” So this Halloween, allow the poor darlings some time for introspection and quiet, because I think they could use it.

4. Gwyneth Paltrow

I’m not sure quite what sparked the sudden animosity towards Ms. Gwen; was it overexposure in the press? Inclusion in People as the World’s Most Beautiful Woman? The unfortunate Vanity Fair incident? Who knows, but I’m willing to bet that this year, channeling the famous blond won’t gain you very many “Likes” from your gang.

5. A Playboy Bunny, VS Angel,  or “Sexy” anything

I don’t believe I have to justify this further, but if you’d like to dress up in a bikini or decorated lingerie, perhaps just cop to it by saying, “I’m ME! But in less clothing than usual.” They say honesty is the best policy.

Cheers to finding a more creative and nuanced costume!


The Couture Conversationalist

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breaking Up (Is Hard to Do)

Hello NYC,

It's been awhile since our last interaction, and truth be told, yours truly has been through shall we say swings over the past several weeks. I interviewed for not just any job, but a holy grail of positions for the fashion obsessed. A job a million girls would kill for? I'll leave you to use your discretion. In the blur of a 24 hour period, it appeared and dematerialized as quickly as it had come, as all truly incredible things do. I summoned my inner Wolfang Puck and made this recipe from Goop, which ultimately became more of a complicated rice dish than a sophisticated risotto. I accidentally reunited with not one but six high school bffls, which, as we all know, is a side effect of living in The Smallest City in the World. And I dealt with the aftermath of a relationship break. Not as simple or finite as a break-up, but not quite as blissful as no break at all.

I'm assuming this proclamation does not fall on deaf ears, as at the very least those Millenials among us remember that painful episode of Gilmore Girls when Rory decides she will not react emotionally to her breakup with (swoon) the devastatingly cute Dean. Note that I did not say she "does not" react emotionally, because--and listen up, because this is the moral of the story--a non-emotional reaction to a breakup doesn't exist. Unless I've been doing something very wrong for the past 23 years, in which case I am all ears. So below, I've summoned my inner Gilmore Girl and pulled together a breakup special: all of those heart-achy country songs, cover-up-the-dark-circles makeup tutorials, and wear-this-to-claim-your-independence dresses to deal with any and all breakup fallout, whether you're longing for some time with your favorite rom coms and a pint of Ben and Jerry's, or ready to paint the town red with a new sense of joie de vivre.

This ice cream solves a plethora of ills, even if that ill may simply be a sugar craving.

These tunes appeal to the many emotions a breakup may inspire, from frustration to elation.

These makeup tutorials cover everything from seeing an ex to covering dark circles.

This blog post by the great Joanna Goddard is a wonderful illustration of how beautiful relationships can be, even when they challenge us.


The Couture Conversationalist

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cozy or Not

Hey New Yorkers,

Hope you're all enjoying this odd bout of weather we've been hit with today; I've been tempted (inspired?) by the white skies and fog covering to pick up Wuthering Heights, or at the very least rent "The Fog"on iTunes. What I'm no longer tempted by, however, is the sundress-and-flip-flop combination I was shamelessly tooling around in until yesterday. Nevertheless, when I've bundled in mohair or cashmere to beat the rain, I've ended up in the subway soaked in rain and drenched in perspiration due to the stifling nature of these materials. It seems that NYC is still inhabiting the transitional space between Summer and Autumn wardrobe, and I jumped the gun by trying to pull off my typical winter knits.

Supposedly, this season embraces untraditional layers, and so in order to maintain a semblance of sartorial polish and the ideal body temperature, I plan to experiment with the trend. Below, some of my new favorites...

This short-sleeved  number is a perfect transition piece for fall.

J Brand's Highmore sweater is a throwback to the 90's in the
best possible way, updated with a touch of leather at the shoulder.

This slouchy sweater is comfy yet lightweight.

A perfect autumn sweater-sweet and offbeat at the same time.

Stay warm--but not too warm!


The Couture Conversationalist

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Falling Hard

Hey New Yorkers,

It's officially Fall, even though I could have sworn the weather outside is a balmy 82, while I won't be cozying up with my favorite cashmere cowl neck sweater yet, I will indulge in a few other tricks and treats which would be improper in the middle of July or on the first day of Spring but feel just right in the early days of October.

1. Getting lost in the whimsical autumnal labyrinth that is Williams Sonoma in October.

PS-Happy birthday to Mr. Charles Williams (fondly known as "Chuck"), who was honored today with in-store samples of a deliciously tart lemon confetti cake. Chuck knows how to do a birthday right. Also spot on? Warm Fall colors in shades of burnt orange, rust, brick and dusky yellow echoed in the new Harvest Table Collection, and the adorable Botanical Pumpkin Loaf Pan. What could be more better with WS's scrumptious pumpkin butter?

The new collection, from the Williams Sonoma website.

2. Trying out new seasonal vegetables with foolproof recipes.

From kholrabi to apples, autumn is a fantastic time for a bit of experimental gastronomy with ingredients you may not have known existed. My new favorite? Sunchokes. I plan to use this recipe on some chilly night in late October when the oven--and my palate--needs a bit of a wake up call.
A glorious Jerusalem Artichoke.

3. Wine tasting in the Hamptons.

You heard it here, certainly not first but perhaps with a new spin. This time of year, the Hamptons loses the tourist and vacationer activity, and offers a delicious array of vineyards and wineries.

4. Hiking outside the city.

I discovered this little beauty of a website when I found myself a bit homesick for my favorite paths in Northern California, and it has certainly become my latest toy. Enter in your trail requirements (waterfalls? woods? views?), and a difficulty level, and you're instantly rewarded with a plethora of expedition options. I'll be flagging a weekend on iCal to enjoy some good old fun with Mother Nature.
The Appalachian Trail on Bellvue Mountain; trail info here.


The Couture Conversationalist

Monday, September 30, 2013

Paris, Je t'aime

Hi Upper East Siders,

The last post I left you with was a bit of a bitter pill, so here comes the spoonful of sucre: Paris Fashion Week! Here's what I've picked up so far.

1. Tommy Ton is (always) the bomb. is one of the great loves of my life, as is Jack and Jil (another of Ton's many outlets). This  is not a man who fears movement or color in his photos. Perhaps other street style photogs who believe that hipsters are god and the color yellow is the devil could take note. Ton's playful images are inspirational, aspirational and sensational. Enough said.
A Tommy Ton original; more here.

2. Sheer is here to stay.

As are the usual suspects-neutral/pastel palettes, bold prints, and what I'm labeling "Pop of Sheen", from gilded, glimmering metallics to patent leather. These Spring collections are not for the faint of heart, so embrace your gym membership, get over your resistance to loud fabrics, and enjoy being a bit of a show off. Fashion is, after all, about confidence.
Miranda Kerr in a daring Stella McCartney.

3. Rick Owens loves a good spin around the ballroom--or in this case, the catwalk.

In a delightful twist of foreshadowing, Mr. Owens relayed to Harper's Bazaar that "Dancing is one of the purest and simplest expressions of joy" for their October edition of "My List". Judging by the dazzling display of "Stomp"-esque step on display, Owens invites the world to revel with him. The designer has since been lauded for the diversity on display in his show, which is unprecedented on the runways. Additionally, the clothes were quite lovely in Owens' trademark architectural, neutral-toned fashion.
Rick Owens'  Spring 2014 show;

4. Tea Time

Tea length skirts are a sweep at the designer shows, so summon your inner Betty Draper and preen. The style can be worn longer or shorter depending on preference; those who lack the statuesque dimensions of a runway model may enjoy a slightly cropped, vaguely voluminous interpretation.
Katie Holmes in Michael Kors.

5. Check all the boxes.

Boxy silhouettes are IN, from little 60's shells to Jackie O jackets. Try something a bit sleeker on the bottom to balance the proportions, like a Mad Men-worthy pencil skirt or a cigarette pant.
Calvin Klein SS 2014; Full collection here.

Have fun playing dress up!


The Couture Conversationalist

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just a Thought

Hi Upper East Siders,

I hope you're all enjoying your Friday night--I certainly took a moment to breathe and revel in the sweet TGIF. A thought occurred to me, however, while reading the next chapter of a new novel on my Kindle, and catching up on "Scandal", to which I'm newly addicted. For those of you who crave the next cultural sensation, "Night Film" and "The Cuckoo's Calling" have been of particular interest to me lately. I blame my interest in The New York Times Best Sellers list. These cultural sensations, nevertheless, are the impetus behind my curiosity: why the fascination with the doomed femme fatale, or in many cases, merely the doomed femme? I realized that an article I had skimmed in Glamour was most certainly pertinent: why females are the primary victims of fictional crime dramas: "I'm Watching: Prime Time's Body Count [And Cringing]" in Glamour.
Admittedly, there has been a backlash of late, and certain series' have come to bat against the female-as-weakling media phenomenon. "Scandal" is admittedly a call to arms for anyone who believes in the right of any US citizen to autonomous decisions, and to continually stand for these rights. Ms. Rhimes, who I think is one of the great screenwriters of our time, consistently relays a tale of individuals caught between a job which consumes their lives and a private life which is encumbered by their job--a conflict of interest at hand, one which often conflates choices made after office hours with those made between 9 and 5. My concern, which is echoed by Glamour, is the fact that the victims of many current dramas are female, and no matter what the dramatic evolution of the plot, the protagonist is left in the dust of a slightly more logical, level headed and cognizant male colleague. Olivia Pope is only (temporarily) derailed by the president. The discontinued (but as you media buffs undoubtably know, soon-to-be lighting up the big screen in a film adaptation) series Veronica Mars began an interesting dialogue on the matter, juxtaposing a doomed, vixen-ish femme fatale type with Veronica's hardened professor of truth. She presages the gladiators of "Scandal"; business first, personal a far second.
I would be disingenuous in claiming that I am not unaffected by the sheer number of females victimized and depreciated in these fictional scenarios. Why are there so many female victims in current crime dramas?  Perhaps this Fall television season will rethink this trend, and focus instead on what female characters can actively do and create, rather than how they can be diminished.

Something to think about while beginning your week.


The Couture Conversationalist

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Decorative Arts

Hi New Yorkers,

I'm reporting on the West Coast today, straight from the sunny slopes of California's East Bay where, on a moonlit eve last week, I enjoyed the Art Deco delights and debauchery of the C Social Front launch party. If you haven't had a chance to take a look at their gorgeous new digital design, have a gander here. I, for one, am quite enamored of the site's sleek design and utterly fabulous featured events.

But back to the event for a moment--from the dulcet tones of a jazz ensemble and a display of vintage Ferragamo's to die for, to a flapper dipping her toes in a gardenia-laden pond, the event was the height of Gilded Age splendor. The Hearst Castle-inspired first floor was complete with lighting which mimicked the moon reflecting off pools of water, and tiny, chic banquettes dotted here and there where guests overwhelmed by the heady experience could repose. Once the clock struck 9, guests were ushered upstairs from the garden of earthly delights to-surprise!-a golden hued ballroom so precisely decorated that one felt like a bubble in a glass of Perrier-Jouer. Balloons and a golden fringe hung from the ceilings added to the allure while a DJ spun the night away. Outside on the moonlit balcony, chic black and white tents were set up over a floor strewn with gold leaf petals. Here's to being gilded!

A ceiling of buoyant balloons

Delighted guests dancing the night away.

Free-flowing champagne...

Golden petals illuminated by an outdoor tent.

The whimsical decor of the balcony.


The Couture Conversationalist