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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Real Cut-Up

Just because we're no longer gradeschoolers as likely to dress as a princess as in a jumper doesn't mean we don't secretly still love playing dress-up. Two sites out there now let you tap into your inner stylist without sacrificing your professional demeanor. And if there's one thing we like more than putting together shoes and outfits, it's letting someone else do the heavy lifting for us, which is why Toutie and Polyvore are two sites we really, really love.

Here's how it works: both sites have built sophisticated online tools to lift photos from websites and edit them into collage-style looks straight out of Style.com or Net-a-Porter. Once these images are collected into your "closet," you assemble them into wardrobes that are posted for all to see on the sites (or embedded in your own as we did below). It's a new and powerful form of creative expression combining the powerful fashion forces of magazine editorials, retail marketing, advanced web applications and our simple human desire to have style and flaunt it in your face.

We all love being mavens and these two sites let us express ourselves without needing professional knowledge of applications like Photoshop or Flash or writing lines of code. Yet there's plenty of room for creative distinction and improvisation.

Both sites have their strengths. Toutie's tool is the more extensive. Where Polyvore allows you to drop the backgrounds around products, Toutie goes further with a Photoshop-like suite of editing tools. Paintbrushes and erasers can be controlled by size, opacity and sensitivity. Layers are arranged in an easy-to-reference column and can be easily cropped, sized and rotated. However, the greater flexibility of Toutie's wardrobe builder necessitates a steeper learning curve, but breezy instructional videos and tutorials help speed the process.

What Polyvore lacks in flexibility, it more than compensates with an ultra-clean interface and foolproof drag-and-dropping. Wardrobe assemblage is fast and fun. Members' inventory of images are available for all to use and, in true Web 2.0 style, communal image swapping, commenting and tagging are central to the process.

Create and post your own outfits at Toutie.com.

Polyvore focuses exclusively on the creation of looks and forms a dynamic and rabid community of users out of it. Toutie's tool is a new addition to its die-hard fanbase of shoppers looking for discounts and specials from the web's premier boutique retailers. The benefit of both is being involved in a community of fashion lovers and determined shoppers that inspires and expands your style -- no light task. These two are most definitely up to the challenge.

Note to Toutie and Polyvore users: Since both sites rely on toolbar bookmarks to clip images from a web page, sampling the More Views images on Lori's site is tough (no toolbar on the pop-up window). Fortunately there's a workaround.

1. Right-click on the image you want to clip.
2. Select "Copy Image Location" (or similar phrase depending on your browser).
3. Highlight the URL address bar at the top of the browser and press Control+V (Command+V on the Mac), then "Enter."
4. Voila!

You will have linked directly to that image, complete with browser toolbar and your Toutie/Polyvore clipper. Cut it up and add it to your outfit. And be sure to let us know about the outfits you make!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Outfits to End an Annum on a Budget

We need to end this year on a high note ... using small bills. While partying like it's 1999 has lately felt like partying until it's $19.99, we are resolute: we will enjoy ourselves (albeit more responsibly). We've put together some outfits on the cheap that still bedazzle like their much more expensive counterparts.

What's more royal than purple? An ermine-lined velvet cape. What's more affordable than ermine? Purple at Lori's. From shoes and boots to scarves and clothing, we've seen this romantic color everywhere.

We especially like the Max Studio Salsa in plum. Its dark, flirtatious tone is an ideal evening color. With its peeptoe and open sides it shows plenty of skin, showcased by a slender 4" heel. The real attraction is the ruffled taffeta T-strap decorated with deep purple beads. The purple Ruffled Clutch by Sondra Roberts compliments perfectly with similar layers of flowing taffeta. Add a little sparkle with purple Crystal Earring by Clara Beau (only $24!).

For a more practical look, we turn to the glossy patent leather Olive pump by Calvin Klein. Versatile enough to wear to work and the long slog of a holiday party (karaoke at 3am, anyone?), this shoe has a 3-1/2" substantial heel with a rounded toe and flexible sole for added comfort.

Punch it up with the multi-colored sequin bag from Santi that fits in the palm of your hand. Colorful and sparkling, this bag will add pop to any ensemble without breaking the bank. The shades of green hint at the holiday season and the optimism of spring. Finish it off with the E2523 earrings from Kendra Scott, featured in our recent blog post "Good As Gold."

What holiday season would be complete without a pair of heeled boots? Maybe Arbor Day. For all other holidays, pick up a pair of Delman's Fedora boots. Luxurious, velvety suede covers the upper over a thin 3-1/2" heel and narrow toe. Nearly knee-high, the Fedora has a calf-hugging shaft for a flattering, shapely effect. Contrast it with the more relaxed Foldover Satin Clutch by La Regale. Soft and spacious, this black evening clutch is a great accessory for your formal events.

Don't forget to add some color! We love the new Red Paisley Pashmina with its silky sheen and fringed ends. Pair it with some holidayness: red Super Opaque Control Top Tights from Hue. For more sexy, try layering on some black fishnets.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Seen on the Streets: Legwarmers

Recently we were waiting for the bus on a dismal, wintry Chicago morning with eight inches of gray snow on the ground when a striking young woman caught our eye. We looked twice not because she was radiantly beautiful in a duffle coat and muffler (she was), but because of her creative shoes. Her indigo skinny jeans not enough for the stinging winds, she had pulled on thick, bulky knit legwarmers the color of an Army horseblanket over a pair of ancient Doc Martens.

The effect was a cross between insouciant New Wave '80s throwback and something out of Patton ... if Patton had commanded the Arctic theater. ("Where are your leggings?" "Leggings? Well, hell, general, sir, I'm a cook." "You're a soldier.") Either way it was a recipe for soldiering through an unfortunate weekday morning with style.

There is something so exciting about winter dressing. There's a challenge to it, a taunt from the elements. Balancing the decidedly un-sexy, figure-covering heft and bulk of downs and fleeces and wools with an outfit that belies the figure beneath. This look did it for us. With it's hodge-podge blues, taupes and browns it came off as spontaneous and ad hoc, yet the thickly knitted folds, tight jeans and beat-to-hell short boots created a complicated interplay of thick and thin, clean and jumbled, old and new; the resulting silhouette was confident and savvy.

We didn't have twenty-year-old Docs and vintage legwarmers in our store, so we concocted a look from HUE legwarmers and the Bellingham boot by Palladium. The cableknit 'warmers had the right texture and we love the optional stirrup that buttons under the heel. It has a vaguely WWI military feel especially when paired with a winter trench. The Bellingham is a harness boot gone native with a double-strapped rand and top shaft buckle. The antiqued grommets and buckles and all that leather reproduced the industrial grime of those vintage Docs we'd admired. We especially loved the criss-crossing of straps between the rand and stirup, a deliciously complex jumble.

Just because the weather's miserable doesn't mean our outfits have to be. A little creativity can go a long way toward making our outfits fun and versatile. Take a vote below and let us know what you think of this look ... or write in your own!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good as Gold

The holidays may conjure up images of red and green but here at Lori's we're seeing gold. Since we're saving the real, Eureka-type stuff for our mattresses, we've resorted to some visual slight-of-hand to give us some glitz on the cheap. That's right: Fool's Gold!

We're no prospectors, so we have no problem with the dense mineral sparkle of pyrite, that charlatan of precious metals. Specifically we're taking a gander at Kendra Scott's Pacifica necklace, a rhomboid hunk of the stuff tamed with a checkerboard cut and set in a gold-tone bezel dangling from an 18-inch gold filigree chain. It's the turducken of fake gold: pyrite wrapped in goldplate.

The tinny-bright gold-tone of the bezel contrasts marvelously with the pyrite, lending gravitas to the dense, flecked ore. It bumps up the legitimacy factor. The rounded checkerboard facets catch the light and return an enticing gleam.

We've also got an eye on the matching Ada earring, nine bezels in a diamond shape displaying assorted checkboard-cut stones of limited value but fascinating color. Known on the linesheet only as "Sambuca," we had a guess at the actual stones: the drop point's citrine-like crystal, twin pyrite nodes above that and a row of hematite at the middle. Above that, a row of oily minerals topped by what looks like a polished chunk of the Dark Crystal. In sum, one helluva earring.

The benefit of all this is a range of colors and surfaces all set in bright gold-tone. The variety of rocks will pick up the colors in your hair and work back easily to just about any outfit. We love the subtle gradient effect: the darkest top stone leads to lighter and brighter, ending at clear at the bottom. This, along with the slender hoop supports, creates a sense of lightness despite the earrings' size. Their bold, bias-hung design adds an exotically royal air to your look. Pyrite, hematite, gold-tone ... they might not be the "real thing," but foolish is the last thing you'll look when wearing them.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just In: Joan & David

We've been swooning over new arrivals from Joan & David. The quality is flawless. These shoes are unmistakably designer quality and style. Chic yet sophisticated, slightly edgy while still appropriate for holiday parties, we privately assumed they'd be out of our price range. Just another shoe to admire from afar. So imagine our surprise to learn all three styles are under $200! Here's a quick run-down of our faves:

We love the Jamila for its simple, sleek design. It's made from flawless leather with a leather sole and a real eye-catcher of a silhouette. The 4-1/2" tapered stiletto heel is wrapped in glossy (but not patent) leather, as is the platform base that adds a bit of lift to your posture.

We're just dying to try these with a pair of old-fashioned sheer nylons with a visible backseam. (What better way to draw attention to our now-unbelievably sexy calves?) The toe is capped with the same glossy leather which helps slim the toebox. At once fashionable and appropriate, this shoe can be worn to the office, dressed up at a holiday party or styled for a night out.

Need something more aggressive? Sure you do. Set your heart racing with the Lana pump. Lightly glossed, reptile embossed leather covers this flirty little number. Two straps criss-cross over the toes for a demure peeptoe before slithering up the front of the foot to the ankle, leaving the top and sides of the foot exposed. A round pewter buckle fastens it at the ankle to a reptile leather heel cup.

Heat up this look with a pewter-toned necklace from Harry Neufeld that drapes down the chest. The 4" heel will give you enough height for a steamy look that's sure to warm up a few of those cold winter nights.

The Halley blends a bit of sweetness with a touch of bad girl. The lightly rounded toe is reminiscent of a school girl maryjane. Further up, angled seams foment a quiet adult rebellion. The strap over the front of the the ankle fastens with a round pewter buckle, framing a racy cut-out over the top of the foot. All of these details are brought to new heights with the towering heel. Its substantial base gives support yet it tapers toward the back to give it a feminine silhouette. We like to accessorize the Halley with a scrunchy plaid scarf that's a little bit school girl and a little bit attitude.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

To the Moon ... or at Least the Movies

Winter's full of fun things we really like, like the cold, and the snow (which is also cold) and the months without sunshine. So we were excited this week in Chicago when the snow started falling in earnest, and by "excited" we mean hid under the covers and reached for the Zoloft.

But there are other, non-prescription ways to combat this S.A.D.ness and keep yourself insulated from the elements: moonboots, for example. You know the look -- chunky, padded, polar treaded footwear like something that molted off the Michelin Man. You are smiling right now because, like pugs, their look is at once improbable and cute as a button. What with Canada dumping cold air on our front stoop, a dose of cuteness is called for.

Stellar Insulation: Pajar's Tobagan is a fleece-lined, faux fur-topped moonboot.

Marc Jacobs, Pucci and a host of others sent up the moonboot years ago. Tecnica continues to make technical aprés-ski versions and let's not even talk about the resurgent popularity of Uggs (the Classic is a dead ringer.) What's the appeal? Warmth is an obvious choice; for all their lack of lean lines these boots are toasty. Nostalgia is another to any of us who grew up in the post-Apollo decades (or are die-hard Napolean Dynamite fans). And, yes, style is another. The fat silhouette of these bulky boots can be used to your advantage, playing against slimming tights and a sharply tailored overcoat. Pick up an outrageously sized fur hat and you'll nail New York by way of Mare Tranquillitatis and the Baikonur Cosmodrome – a look that's sure to have all your friends asking "что Вы носите?"

And while we're not stepping out of any airlocks in our Pajars, we certainly wouldn't be averse to living our daily outdoor lives sporting a pair of Tobagans. We think there's untapped potential for these to be paired with solid-color tights and a short skirt or very slim jeans. Likewise with Uggs. A blocky, chunky silhouette is a hard stop to the lines traced from heel to waist, focusing attention on the shearling details and (a favorite) the gold leather.

Prepped for Re-entry: Ugg's Classic Tall in Gold is cosmically cool.

Gold leathers, fun faux furs and delightfully chunky soles make these shoes an adorable wardrobe addition that is guaranteed to pick up your spirits if not your stride during these cold spells. Well, we feel better for writing about them. Let us know what you think of this look!

Free Ship Reminder

A last-minute reminder: all orders over $75 will be shipped for free through tonight, Tuesday, December 02, 2008. Didn't know about this? Sign up for our newsletter and get first notice of all our online specials, sales and promotions.

This offer cannot be applied to past orders or used in-store. Free shipping method is UPS Standard Ground only and applies only to orders delivered within the continental United States. Other restrictions may apply. Offer ends at 12:00am Wednesday, December 3, 2008.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift Wrap - Scarves

If you haven't yet realized it, you are officially in gift-shopping mode. Oh yes you are. yesyouare! And we are Lori's are in gift-idea-giving mode. Today we're going to romance our favorite accessory: the perfect, versatile, infinitely style-able, ever-fashionable scarf.

We admit we've got a thing for scarves. There are simply so many ways to wear them; they come in endless array of colors, patterns and fabrics; there is no sizing issue; and they can charge up an outfit with a simple flip over your shoulder or a more complicated knot at the neck. Speaking of which, let's get to the meat of it: the following give us a catch in the throat, followed by a sigh of contentment.

We have fallen head over heels for the Toalni Scrunched Circles scarf. Made from 100% wool, this scarf transitions easily from fashion accessory to pragmatic winter warmer. The thickly scrunched texture provides volume and insulation. Large, mod circles of burgundy, purple, and pink lift the spirits and compliment skin tones. Think of it as a new winter blush – a cosmetic in fabric form.

We like this scarf paired with a simple ensemble: solid top, jeans or a simple skirt. On a chilly winter day, pair with some adorable knit wristwarmers and matching slouchy beret. Keep it simple and let the circles work their magic. At $68 it's an affordable way to be the center of attention.

Another eye-catcher is the vibrant Sheer Paisley Scarf in purple (also available in green). Thin and scrunchy enough to style just about any way, the versatility of this scarf is impressive. We use it as a layering element doubled as a casual neck wrap and paired with our favorite Ugg boots. We have also dressed it up with a casual knot, flowing over the chest to show off the paisley batik print. Try this with a pencil skirt and knee-high boots, accessorized with some small ornate earrings. So simple and classic and only $24.

And we've been obsessed about the Butterfly Tapestry Pashmina (shown in brown). Made of 100% pashmina wool, this intricately woven scarf is reversible, featuring two stunning color patterns. With its deep burgundy threads, tapestry border, and gold and black fringed ends, it affects a regal air. We prefer to wear this as an elegant shawl, draped across the body to display the colorful butterfly motif. We consider it the de facto accessory for the opera, the ballet, holiday parties, and other formal events this winter. Pair with a simple dress, evening shoes, and understated gold earrings to play up the color and elegance of this shawl. The price? Only $24!

Junior Drake Trunk Show: Thurs, Dec. 4

"Darling, it's not the dress, it's the girl," replied Patsy (Junior Drake) Brown when complimented on her dress. Junior Drake handbags evince a similar philosophy: these gorgeous leather bags aren't the ends, but the means to showcasing your personality.

Women who love Junior Drake are confident in their own style and distinctive in their personality. (And who doesn't love Junior Drake?) Supple Italian leathers, top craftsmanship and detailed hardware have helped catapult the name into the go-to brand for chic bags that elevate your look.

Likewise, it's not the collection, it's the trunk show. Lori's is pleased to introduce the newest collection of Junior Drake at two in-store trunk shows.

Thursday, December 4 -- Armitage Store
Save up to 15% on the latest Fall/Holiday 2008 collections from noon to 5pm at Lori’s Armitage.
824 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614

Friday, December 5 -- Northfield Store
Save up to 15% on the latest Fall/Holiday 2008 collections from noon to 5pm at Lori’s Northfield.
311 Happ Rd.
Northfield, IL 60093

Get excited: visit www.juniordrake.com to see the current collection.

Free Shipping through Tues, Dec. 2

If you haven't signed up for the mailer, consider this your lucky day. We are offering free shipping on all orders over $75 placed through midnight Tuesday, December 2.

Here are the rules: Offer valid for orders shipped to continental United States addresses only. Shipping method is UPS Standard Ground. This offer does not apply to past orders and may not be used in-store. Other restrictions may apply.

Monday, November 24, 2008


According to industry standards we should now be in the process of hectoring you to buy a gift for every single person you have ever known and by the way all those people want shoes. Shoes from Lori's. We should be baiting the hook. Perhaps we'd throw in a sale. (Hmm, we did do that.) Maybe free shipping. (Wait, we are working on that ... )

Honestly, we'll probably do all of this. But right now let's digress. Anyway shoes are a tough gift -- there's the whole sizing thing -- and what's more tense than misunderstanding someone's style under the expectant eyes of loved ones? ("Gee, uh thanks Mom. No I love it. No, really ... really.")

So before we begin this mad holiday rush, let's give thanks to some of the newer styles just arrived that just so happen to work back to cherished, well-worn stereotypes of Pilgrims and the Indians that saved their asses.

Which is to say everything up to this point has been an elaborate setup for this hot new moccasin from Minnetonka. The 1662 (shown) is a nifty moc-bootie with all the trimmings: an ample display of fringe, whipstitching on the upper and a tie-off at the ankle. Special touches are a two-eyelet laceup and rosy, glazed wood beads.

These are perfect fall/casual over skinny jeans or, if you like us want a break from the lean denim, try them with a knee-length skirt. Something out of "School Ties" is appropriate here: clean, dark, conservative, pleats you could slice bread with. We think you could even pull off a wool tartan. We are very thankful for this shoe.

Of course, what would a Thanksgiving-themed blog post be without our good friends, the Pilgrims? Joyriding through Massachusetts Bay, plundering corn stores, wearing funny hats, getting into a helluva pickle come November.

We ransacked our own stores for big buckles but that's apparently one trend that didn't take this season. However, the Didi by Max Studio (shown) has enough: a chunky heel with a chic conical taper and a high, stand-up vamp braced with a leather bow and tassels.

We can see them on the wife of Myles Standish or paired with a chic grey pencil skirt and some flirty tights. (Whichever you can pull off.) We especially love the the wraparound leather petals on the toe that give this shoe the look of a peeptoe without the exposure, making it a winner for colder climes (or a harvest festival at Massasoit's long house).

Whichever direction you go, we here at Lori's do hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And get some rest: we'll be waiting for you on Friday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Week In Review - Baked Beads

Given the current economic climate and, well, the regular old climate, we thought we would try to lift your spirits. Something colorful and bright. Something with sparkle, but not too flashy. Something that won't break the bank. Hmmm ... Ah! of course: Baked Beads jewelry. Newly arrived, great for everyday wear and holiday parties, this versatile jewelry comes in colors concocted to brighten our days.

One of our favorite pieces is Baked Beads's N316 necklace. The pendant is a large, faceted glass teardrop available in topaz, ruby (shown), aqua, or smokey, set in Sterling silver plate. Adjusting the 16"–18" chains might just be the best part ... until you see the price. The layered chain look may be oh-so-fashionable this season, but this necklace is only $18. That's right, eighteen dollars. Stylish thrift is the new fashionable!

We also love Baked Beads's N263 necklace with it's larger rectangular pendant (twice the size of the teardrop) available in purple (shown), olive, topaz, and grey. This polished resin gem is smoothly rounded with curved corners. Also set in Sterling silver plate with a 16"–18" adjustable double chain, this fashionable necklace is only – wait for it – $20. We love the idea of matching these popping bright colors with other mood-elevating accessories, like colorful tights, a scarf, or fingerless gloves.

For an elegant touch, try pairing one of these necklaces with an equally colorful earring. Baked Beads's E312 earrings are glamorous when paired with a complimentary necklace, yet are simple and dainty enough to be worn every day. A faceted glass teardrop is accompanied by a tiny matching glass bead just above and set in Sterling silver plate. Available in aqua, topaz (shown), smokey, and ruby, there's a color for everyone on your shopping list. What girl wouldn't love to get a piece of jewelry to show off for the holidays?

And if these pieces don't satisfy your holiday shopping needs, take a peek at our newly updated Gift Section. We just made your online shopping a little easier: you can now shop gifts Under $25, Under $50, and Under $100. We just know you'll find something for the special girls on your shopping list ( ... and maybe even something for yourself).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Charms: Michelle Rubin Trunk Show

Like many designers, Michelle Rubin's work as a jewelry maker has its roots in experiences during her formative years. As a young girl she would often sneak into her grandmother's jewelry case and reassemble the contents into new, exciting pieces. (Whether the adults in question were quite as charmed with their newly altered accessories is another matter.)

Years later charmed is precisely the point. Originally made for herself and her friends, Rubin's collections of stamped Sterling discs, cut-glass birthstone gems and personal messages have caught the eye of many a boutique, including ours here at Lori's.

Michelle will be making a personal appearance at our Armitage Avenue store this Saturday, November 22 from noon to 5pm. In addition to showcasing her current collection, Michelle will take orders for personalized pieces for mail delivery by Monday, December 15. Singular, handcrafted jewelry made after a personal consultation with the artist in time for the holidays? Charmed, we're sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Clarification

Rumor is there's a sale – a secret sale – going on right now at Lori's. (Oh, we're sorry, don't know about it? Sounds like it's time to sign up for the newsletter.) At any rate our super awesome marketing team neglected to mention the sale is good online only. We thought this clear enough as we lack a discount code form field at the store's register. However we found out what happens when we assume, and we do appreciate the convenience our site offers our many customers who prefer to shop in our physical stores.

To redeem the online sale discount in-store please print and present the mailer at checkout. You must present a printout to claim the discount. All sale items purchased with this mailer are "final sale;" they cannot be returned. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or special events.

We apologize for the confusion and, as always, thank you for your business.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Linked In

With the economy looking about as bright as Charon's cloak at midnight on the Styx we wouldn't be surprised if those all those golden handcuffs on Wall Street had lost some of their luster. Fortunately there are some gilt ties by which we wouldn't mind being bound, and they cost about as much as said ferry ride (adjusted for inflation, of course). We're talking about gold chain necklaces, a look by YSL made must-have by Beyonce in this month's InStyle.

If you, like us, don't have the odd thousand dollars for the couture version, take a look at the Lori's exclusive available for a much more attractive thirty bucks. Each link in this sturdy chain is composed of 40-50 overlapping metal cups, creating an armadillo-like carapace that allows for great flexibility. When strung together, they form a golden tractor chain of a necklace looking hefty enough to restrain a junkyard dog ... if that junkyard were a scrapheap of discarded precious metals.

We know that all that glitters isn't gold. (Sometimes it may be silver or pewter.) Lucky for you these metallic manacles come in various finishes to compliment a range of looks (and we'll refer you also to the mesh versions).

For the slight of neck and short of haircut, you may able to double loop the chain for a choker effect, though we will be the first to admit that while the links are sturdy, the internal wire has its limits. No matter. Looped once about the neck this chain falls past the sternum, giving you that coveted Medieval chamberlain look, which is to say je ne sais quoi, mais nous l'aimons.

In all seriousness we like it as shown on the mannequin with a high-collared greatcoat or Melton wool peacoat where it peeks out of soft woolen folds for a marked contrast; a bit of the old ultrabrilliance under more sober togs.

And given the soberness of things, we don't mind a bit of bright optimism as both winter weather and wilting dollars curtail our good mood. Wearing this chain makes us feel both stylish and thrifty. We feel good. We think of a future, none too soon, when we might climb, Orpheus-like, out of this gloom toward a brighter living.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Gift of Uggs

In two weeks' time gift-shopping mania will officially reach fever pitch. And we will reach the end of our rope. You know what holidays are? Stressful. We think we can all agree that it's much more enjoyable to shop online from the comfort of our own home ( ... or office? go ahead; it's ok). And, lo! Here you are. Online. And here we are: Lori's, a soothing, convenient online shopping experience. So let's jumpstart a more calming holiday shopping season with one of our most popular lines: Ugg Australia.

At the top of every girl's wish list for fall/winter is a pair of the Uggs Classic Tall boot. Currently available in chocolate, chestnut (shown), pewter, and gold (hotcha!), you can't walk down the street without seeing this winter wardrobe staple.

The softest sheepskin lines the inside and footbed. The wool keeps your toes toasty-warm, yet cool in temperate weather. The upper is made of luxuriously soft leather panels sewn with reversed, raw seams. These boots appear substantial; in fact they are incredibly lightweight thanks to a blown rubber traction sole. We love these over tucked-in jeans. You can even cuff them down for an extra cozy look. The best part? They fit like a glove, as all Uggs do, so don't sweat your gift being returned. With or without socks, these boots just slip on and go - it's the perfectly practical, fashionable gift.

Speaking of great gifts, Exhibit #2: the Fluff Scuff slipper. The upper and lining are genuine, super-soft sheepskin fleece. The light rubber traction sole makes them ideal for scuffing around the house. Currently available in white, muslin (shown), and black, you're sure to find a color for the special girls on your gift list.

And what holiday shopping jaunt would be complete without a little something for yourself? You made all this effort. You should be rewarded. By you. Might we recommend the comfortable and stylish Endell, available in black and brown? Leather straps wrap the ankle, joined on the rand by a chic horseshoe bit. A buckled strap along the top of the shaft adds a contemporary touch. Perched atop a leather base with a stacked wooden heel, the bottom is finished with a durable rubber traction sole. With its rich suede upper, genuine sheepskin lining, and outstanding quality, the Endell is unmistakenly Ugg and unmistakenly you this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Fur Thing

Our heartfelt congratulations to President-Elect Obama.

Talk about winds of change. It is finally November. It is finally post-November 4th. Yes, we did. And besides emerging in a state of bliss from 21 months of a grueling political pit fight, we're also hunkering down for chilly winter winds finally heading our way. If there's one thing we've learned from endless stump speeches it's that hot air rises (cue rimshot). While we're finished getting all hot-headed about this race, we recognize it is important to retain a little warmth during winter months. Thus: fur hats! (Well, faux fur. We're not savages, people.)

First up, the Trapper Hat in camel by San Diego Hat Company. We love it for its soft ultrasuede shell and the white fur with lightly speckled ends giving it an authentic look. The quilted polyester lining provides an extra layer of protection from the elements and ensures a comfortable fit. The traditional furry flip-up brim is irresistibly cute and the fur-lined flaps are sure to keep your ears toasty warm. Keep them fastened under the chin on a windy day, or flip up the sides for that laid-back, French-Canadian trappeur look everyone's after these days.

A steppe in the Russian (rimshot) direction is the pillbox Fur Hat by Grace Hats. Available in grey, beige and black (shown), we love its blocky, Eastern European styling. Available in a season of smartly tailored collections, the soft geometry of the Fur Hat feels right. As it should, being crafted from super-soft fur with a sateen lining. But don't equate its elegance with inefficiency: it's warmer than a knit hat and better looking too. And, hey, in the off-season it can double as a cozy for your Roomba.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Week In Review - Grey

Grey is so easy. Any way you match it -- with black, brown and any color in between -- you can’t help but look put-together. On the color wheel, grey is what happens when opposite colors are mixed with white: blue and orange, red and green, purple and yellow, black and white. The practical application of this is a neutral shoe that transcends color matching issues while retaining the ability to slide between gradations of warmth and coolness.

This versatility makes it not only the must-have color of season, but a workhorse that will serve you well in upcoming seasons. It's present moment, future outfits. From shoes and boots to scarves and sweaters, grey works. To wit, some of our most popular boots below. Is it just a coincidence they come in variations of this versatile hue?

First up, the coolly grey Dakota by Jeffrey Campbell. This everyday boot blends worker details like a buckled rand and reinforced heel with urban-chic suede styling. The delight is in the details: ultra-soft suede upper, brass-buckled harness. The shaft is short and wide -- not quite mid-calf -- with a light natural slouch. We love them pulled over all-purpose skinny jeans and paired with a tailored riff on a workshirt or subtle close check plaid.

Warm up your look with the grey-taupe Legion by Steve Madden. The slouched shaft is cuffed at top for a casually textured look. A decorative cinch with buckle is a popular detail and a perfect way to play off cuffs and bangles. The rounded toe and heel are trimmed with double-stitching, making the foot appear smaller. The three-inch heel gives you enough of a boost to dress up a pair of jeans while keeping you stable enough for a day roaming the city. For a casual evening, pair the Legion with a sweater dress and tights.

The Mazzie by Calvin Klein in grey suede is a happy medium between warm and cool tones. The blueish undertones of its soft suede are reminiscent of Jeffrey Campbell's Dakota. A flat sole and fitted full-length shaft keep you balanced and comfortable (and provide a much-needed respite from this season's sky-high heels); the narrow toe keeps it feminine.

A decorative suede tie cinches the cuffed top, lending a uptown riposte to the Legion's downtown buckle. Wear it cuffed with your skinny jeans or pair with a mid-length skirt or dress and your favorite pair of tights. Want edgier? Uncuff the top for the over-the-knee look of which we can't get enough. Fashion-forward and cozy-warm, the Mazzie's versatility grows with your wardrobe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All Tied Up: The Essential Scarf

For women and men alike there is no single accessory more important in the colder months than a scarf -- no, don't even argue with us, it's true. The scarf, like the ever-handy towel in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ( ... the most "massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have comes in handy in most every situation"), tops off your look, keeps you warm and can be styled so many ways from Sunday they should add another month to the calendar.

A scarf alone can take you from day to night, from city to country chic. Wear it like a necktie, a shawl, a belt or a bandolier. Tie up your hair or tie down the strap of your handbag. They come in silks and wools and cottons, patterns and plain colors, and all varieties of texture.

We recently received a shipment of pashminas that set our little stylist hearts a-flutter. Their tapestried fabrics provide rich color and texture while a 28" width gives plenty of accessorizing latitude. Thus inspired, we present some styling options to make the most of this all-important piece!

The lush textures in this burgundy pashmina activate a simple outfit.
Wear it in generous, thick folds as a neck scarf (right) or tie a simple
overhand knot for an over-the-shoulder casual bolero (left).

The drape of this paisley pashmina makes it a superb layering tool.
Thinner than the tapestry pieces, it has excellent flow and a shimmery finish.
Wear it like a Roman Patrician (left) or bundle-knotted like a kiffeyeh.

Leah Benjamin wool scarves mix complex patterns and colors with lovely sheen.
The wool threads fall straight and flat, letting you style these scarves with the foppish

fling of a Barbary corsair (left) or as a sloppy-chic, once-around choker (right).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Week in Review

With the fall season having set in, we’re seeing Steve Madden once again inspiring us with fashion-forward styles in boots and shoes. The popular Tianna boot (in purple, left) is a day-long companion. Its soft suede upper is lightly scrunched above the ankle and flat sole, playing against the structure of a rounded toe.

This mid-calf boot will take you through the day in jeans and carry you into the night. Pair them with a flirtatious dress and bright tights. Currently available in black, brown, the ever-fashionable grey, and this season’s hottest color -- purple -- the versatile Tianna is a sure favorite. And at $84 ... really, people? C'mon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New York Boot Report

As the responsible and worldly (and frankly awesome) marketing team that we are, we took it upon ourselves to visit New York and make sure the fashionables there were on the up-and-up. Turns out they were and then some. In fact we found the women (and, yes, the men) dressed to their stylish nines. (And that was before we spotted Zac Posen outside Chelsea Markets; we still cover that jacket … but we digress.)

We would never call them fashion victims, but it definitely seemed like most of the populace had taken some shrapnel from the boot bomb that exploded somewhere south of Hell’s Kitchen. Boots, boots, boots were everywhere and every height and everybody couldn’t get enough of looking at each other and hating them for their footwear while saying with a smile, “Great boots!”

Pulled over skinny jeans, worn over tights, worn under sweater dresses and trench coats that would make Burberry jealous, the boot reigns supreme here. Slouchy, hard and polished, destructed, motorcycle, cowboy, roper, riding … the look is definitely here and we love it. A tall, clean boot adds instant grace to a look; distressed, harnessed leathers build up attitude; cowboy boots and your other Western varietals lend a laidback chic.

Which makes it all the more exciting that shearling is cropping up in greater numbers as the temperatures drop up in the northern hemisphere. Sam Edelman, Ugg, Manas and La Canadienne are just some examples of labels that are adding woolly details to high boots. We find the effect charming, a kind of Northern Chic that adds a rustic verve to the sophistication of the long boot.

Take up the call and do more of the same, we say. Buy some tall boots (knee or higher, please) and wear over jeans or cashmere leggings and be sure to mind the Gap: they have a pretty nice trench that plays into the menswear trend and works beautifully against a boot. We’re looking for sophistication here. Tailoring. Polish. Decorum. Dressing like we care how the world sees us, and, more importantly, how we see ourselves. This is the focus of fall in 2008. We saw it coming and stocked up; we’re glad New York has followed our lead.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taming of the Shoe

Yesterday was a real "ooh" and "ahh" day for us. Coveting the Pour La Victoire Iva ("ooh") is a very Ectasy-of-Saint-Theresa moment, but ... how on earth would we accessorize pale gold patent leather menswear wingtips? Then it hit us ("aah!"): maybe we're not the only ones with such dilemmas.

Sometimes we feel these shoes are so fabulous we couldn't possibly add an outfit to them without slighting their magnificence. And since we can't walk around in them naked (well, legally speaking), we find ourselves in a quandary. But these shoes are often easier to wear than they look, becoming a foundation that transforms your whole look into something memorable. We've chosen an apparently difficult shoe and a demanding boot to show you how we would accessorize them to take advantage of their forward styling.

What to Give the Everything Shoe: Pour La Victoire's Iva
A quick run-down of the Iva's attributes makes for an intimidating list: pale gold leather, captoe, wingtip detailing, laceless vamp, menswear ... So how to bring it into the realm of the wearable? Start with the sole.

The pale gold leather is a red herring. The color is so pale as to vacillate between yellowish golds and silvery pewters, and its reflectiveness means, like skin tones, it will take on qualities of the colors around it. The factor that isn't so malleable is the deep brown sole. Black bags are out. The Iva is ultimately a warmer shoe; black bags will look flatter and colder paired with it.

Picking up the color of the sole, we're adding HUE's diamond texture knee-highs in opaque brown under a knee-length pencil skirt and dressy blouse. The brown bridges the shoe and skirt while the low-texture diamond pattern adds more kick and femininity.

Finally, a bag. We wanted a big expanse of brown, very clean, to bring the color up from the floor. The menswear look of the Iva suggested something more structured. We love Tano's Getting Warmer in Truffle. The structured hobo look is versatile and the slight crackle in the finish keeps it from being just plain. The nickel hardware tempers the shoes' yellow tendency.

Pour La Victoire's Iva with Tano bag and HUE tights.

Controlling the Crocodile: Vic Matie's 8222 Knee Boot
The 8222 takes the sophistication of an equestrian knee-high -- clean, tall upper, low riding heel, narrow rounded toe -- and makes it a stand-out with a bold, patent crocodile finish. It's a great boot, but it's a lot of boot. Here, we want to play up the confidence with more of the same.

We see these tucked into tight, dark-washed jeans under a very tailored blazer with minimal details. The calf-hugging shaft is slimming and sexy. Let embellishment come from layered chains by A.V. Max, David Aubrey and Peter M. The jewelry will also pick up the chain bit hardware at the top of the boot. Add a final pop of color and retro style with a one-of-a-kind ring made from vintage estate-sale buttons (available in-store).

Vic Matie's 8222 with layered chains by A.V. Max and Peter M. and vintage ring

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rather Natty in Fringe

Taking a tour through the site lately we're not sure if we're shopping for shoes or if Google hyperlinked us smack dab in the middle of the costume trailer for "The Searchers." While we certainly wouldn't have minded the chance to see Natalie Wood sporting rawhide ponytails, we decidedly loved the reality: fringe is a prominent feature on fall's boots, bags and scarves.

This isn't your '60s hippie beads-and-fringe, neo-Haight-Asbury rerun (and in this post post-Colonial world we're going to refrain from the easy "ethnic"), but a harkening back to something simpler than computers and mortgage-backed securites -- a pioneer leaning that would have brought a tear to the eye of James Fennimore Cooper.

Fringe today is a rustic touch dressing up modern boots that have clean silhouettes and quality, distressed leathers. It's the lost colonists of Roanoke 10 years later; proper English attire gone native; country manor with a bit more buckskin. Rustico.

Sam Edelman
gets it. His knee-high Utah and the drool-worthy buckaroo Uri come in a camel suede with raked tiers of fringe. The orthagonal lines of the fringe give it a contemporary feel and a narrow toe keeps them dressy. We see these with skinny, deep-wash denim or a miniskirt -- anything clean and simple that lets the fringe do its thing. Bowie knife optional.

Jeffrey Campbell's slouch dally boots in fawn suede sport a single pane of fringe along their short shaft. A buckled cinch along the back controls the scrunch factor and the kemptness of the fringe. Our favorite feature here is the scuffed heel and toe, adding personality and a dark sheen to the soft suede.

For those of you unconvinced by our pithy references to American literature to sell you fringed suede, we can only say ... have you seen the handbag? Suay's Suede Fringe Shoulder Bag is day bag by way of the Pony Express, though we doubt Buffalo Bill's had intricate laser cutouts backed with an interior gold foil layer. Or a hip brass ring-tie. (He most assuredly had the fringe covered.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Leggings & Loafers

Our truly awesome marketing team was on the bus recently when they spied the absolute cutest look and were inspired to blog.

The look is at left: knee-highs and penny loafers under a knee-length skirt. It's that "mostly covered" look we've loved all fall. We love this update on the academic look with loafers replacing traditional maryjanes (call it Catholic Schoolgirl meets Young Corporate).

And while we've touched on tights before, we've overlooked the loafer. We were distracted by wine-dark heels reaching ever higher. As we extolled the virtues of height, the lowly penny loafer quietly infiltrated our shelves until we found ourselves surrounded. We gladly capitulated.

The resurgence of this stereotypically conservative clog is hardly surprising given the seasonal lean toward clean, tailored looks and a reliance on menswear. In fact, we can't help but wonder if endless campaigning and a rumbly stock market haven't become fashion's newest influences. Have a vertiginous stock ticker and acrimonious politicians become a base from which to build a classically stylish look?

Below we've paired three takes on the classic penny loafer with leggings designed to add some spice. You can bend this look more feminine, play up its so-called conservativism or complicate it with layered textures and bold gestures for something altogether different.

Look 1: Poli-Chic
This look marries the stalwart Bass loafer -- a gleaming, cordovan-hued genre classic -- with olive green leggings braced in a soft lime green diamond pattern. It's '40s Ivy League Student Body with a dash of Sexy Librarian thrown in to spice things up.

Look 2: The Compassionate Come-Hither Conservative
While based in traditional menswear looks, this pairing has a more audacious energy. A bold, semi-sheer argyle legging steps into a chestnut-colored Jeffrey Campbell penny with a fabulous snub toe. Casual sawtooth finish on the tongue adds some zippy playfulness to the lines. (Maybe it's the leg form, but we can't help but be reminded of the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window. Ralphie would have loved it. Grownups will too.)

Look 3: Bailout Bohemian
Perfect for strolling over to Washington Mutual to clean out our desk while celebrating our unexpected freedom from the corporate workplace! The banded vamp of the Franco Sarto Kline is a reptile patent with a feminine buckle. Patent trim lines the opening and contrast topstitching on a suede upper keeps it easy and casual. The heather gray cashmere tights are luxurious but simple; a pair of Hot Sox legwarmers keep things interesting with bold, working buttons reminiscent of spats.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Give an Inch ...

Super sexy heels have enjoyed special attention this year as they rise to the improbable six-inch mark and beyond. We are seeing it all over the runway, the magazines, the fashion sites. (Just ask Bill Cunningham at the New York Times.) We see it on pumps, on boots, on, well, everything except flats. For a moment we wondered if all the teetering and tottering and inevitable sore feet were worth the look. Then we came to our senses. Of course it is worth the look. The answer to "height" is always "yes." Our quest for world domination through sexy feet demands it.

We're working on the assumption that Christian Louboutin's Babel boots ($1,425 at Net-a-Porter) might be a smidge pricey, given that we're now saving to cover our share of the SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS needed to bail out Wall Street (quick calculation ... $2,300 per every man, woman and non-tax-paying child in the U.S.). So we thought we'd put together some more affordable options.

Daino's 2850s are similar in style and height to the Babel with a nearly four-inch heel. (And we never said this but perhaps a little Testor's red gloss enamel, a #6 oil brush and a half-hour and, well, we never said it.) It's leather forever as these knee-highs lengthen and cover your legs. This look references the Goth trends we've been seeing this fall -- a heavy influence of blacks and leathers with an emphasis on hardware and layered jewelry. It's darkly sophisticated, but paired with a long, flowing skirt(s) you'll mute the gloom and create a sealed and polished look that speaks to your urban sophistication.

Daino 2850 with fall looks by Marios Schwab and Halston.

Likewise, we'd love a pair of Missoni's crocodile booties ($5,695 at Missoni New York), but since we're currently down more than 5% net worth, we're just as happy with Pour La Victoire's Lea in black patent croco print. (And, truthfully, we'd be just as happy with it if we were ahead.)

The four-inch heel gives you lift while its sexy curves finish off the lines of your calf, ankle and down through your heel for a sleek, polished look. We love -- LOVE -- the wide-cut opening here which makes the foot look smaller, draws attention to our darling ankles and evinces a general playfulness. The purposeful gapping and brassy pattern plays off against pencil skirts and streamlined, basic silhouettes for a sexy-librarian chic.
Pour La Victoire's Lea and Missoni's salivatingly beautiful crocodile boot.

But enough about us. We want to hear what you think of the high heel trend. Take our poll below and sound off!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Shape of Things

Trends in bags have diverged of late. The continuing growth of spring's gigantic bag, as evidenced by the Louis Vuitton/Richard Prince collaboration, is alive and well. But we've also been receiving shipments with smaller, more structured leanings. Hardcase clutches, handsome doctor's satchels and businesslike attaches have clean lines and sharp silhouettes inspired by the professional and political realms.

(Sidebar! As America's political race goes from overheated to red hot, we are wondering: could we be seeing new, unexpected fashion influences? Wonk-chic? Pollster pulchritude?)

With such divergent trends, what's a handbag company to do? If you are Melie Bianco, the answer is simple: both.

The W8-252 – a name that simply trips down the tongue – is an attache in gray and blue, a flat leatherette portfolio with smartly contrasted trim. The crowning detail is a hexagonal handle cutout. It's policy meets pleasure. Think early '70s. Sigourney Weaver in the "Ice Storm." Stylishly confident, powerful, rebuking expectations.

Likewise, the w8-10 overlong clutch in mustard or purple is a bright bar of color across your outfit. The extra length and brilliant hues draw attention to your look like a Dan Flavin in a white-walled gallery.

So naturally we're picturing these bags as a linear pop of color on an otherwise clean-as-a-whistle outfit, meaning pencil skirts, riding boots with clean lines or sexy-spiky office heels and a reduced palette of heather grays, blacks, saddle browns, whites. Add a scarf or ropey necklace to break up the lines.

If the w8-252 attache and w8-10 clutch energize your look by inverting the buttoned-up, the 84004 pops all the buttons off said shirt. These glazed bags in boldly lacquered fall colors are assembled from asymmetrical panels draped, pinched and ruched to create a form that is less handbag so much as frozen explosion of sassy, sensual, voluminous folds.

Again, keep it simple. This bag demands attention; don't fight it. (No A-lines here.) Continue the sense of flow with a layered chain necklace. Try some flat-heeled boots with a slight scrunch or low, chunky heels that work back to this bag's organic shape.

For larger sizes, visit Barefoot Tess Barefoot Tess for larger sizes.