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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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank You, New Yorker

We're a touch tardy on this shout-out, but a big thanks to Patricia Marx for her article in last week's The New Yorker ("Sole Sisters" September 1, 2008) which summed up our shoe philosophy in one master stroke:

"With the possible exception of ... a few others, men don't get it when it comes to shoe shopping. (Women, you may skip this paragraph.) A woman loves trying on shoes because she can do it without taking off her clothes. So, no matter how fat or unlovely she feels, she can slip into a Giuseppe Zanotti silver stiletto sandal with a crystal-encrusted skeleton of a trout swimming up her ankle and, just for a moment, believe that she is as come-hitherish as her foot (Bergdorf Goodman; $850)."

And just as we finished adding Ms. Marx's quote, we happened upon this comic in the very next issue by one of our personal favorites, Alex Gregory (available online):

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It Takes a Tote.

We love the forthrightness of whateverittakes. This is a charity with moxy written all over its URL. As the online face of not-for-profit 21st Century Leaders, the goal of whateverittakes is to raise $3 million over 3 years to fund charitable projects in the developing world. Most of those projects involve helping impoverished groups in developing nations reach global marketplaces to sustain their communities.

We like this "teaching to fish" approach and the dignity it affords. 21CL raises their operating budget by creating and selling "merchandise with a meaning," meaning, in the case of Lori's, a collection of fresh canvas totes designed and signed by cultural limelighters.

Bags of Personality: Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B.-like tote (left) and Kayne West's improv batik.

The bags are appealing on a number of levels. On one hand, fill your celebrity-guest-designer-fashion-bag wardrobe requirement for a sliver of the usual cost. And when we're talking about prolific and high-profile producers like Kayne West, Snoop Dogg, Lucy Liu, Gwen Stefani and Stella McCartney, that's significant. At $34.00 they are slightly more affordable than, say, McCartney's sueded appaloosa handbag for $1,295.00 or iTuning all of Kanye West's albums or Stefani's L.A.M.B. collection (though the spontaneity of her scribbled designs reflects that Harajuku élan.)

Global Fashion: Stella McCartney's totes reflect the spritely optimism of her Spring 2009 line.

We're suckers for the sense of hand in these bags. Sure, it's a trick we've been familiar since those melamine plates we made in 3rd grade, but it is potent for the same reason – that sense of personal touch preserved in an otherwise generic product. Personality is important; these bags portray a real sense of energy and personal investment about something that's meaningful to us: the ability for creativity to benefit others. Because proceeds from every bag fund 21st Century Leaders, buying these bags isn't just consuming, it's also participating.

Besides the requisite paeans to green and earth-friendliness, each medium-weight cotton canvas bag has self-lined handles and a hidden zip side pocket. Sides are gusseted to hold as much organic, grass-fed, free-range, no-trans-fat goodness as you can stuff in there at the grocery. (And if you, like us, sometimes yearn for something a little less earnestly responsible, perhaps this is insouciant enough.)

Buying this bag won't save the world, but it will save you some money, send said same to a cause we (and our pop culture idols) believe in, and make you look good doing it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More Menswear Inspiration: The Fall Hat

Fall's not just a great time for shoes and boots; it's also a fantastic opportunity for gloves, scarves and hats meant for weather that's cool but not yet cold. Our go-to hat provider, San Diego Hat Company, has turned out a number of hat styles perfect for fall trends.

As in shoes, we're seeing (and loving) the migration of traditionally masculine styles into womenswear. This fall casual newsboy caps, engineer and fishermen caps get dressed up and formal fedoras and equestrian riding helmets get a dose of urban chic. Both trends point to a season of refined dressing and smartly tailored looks tinged with pastoral romance.

In addition to boots, equestrian styling is inspiration for fall chapeaux. The traditional English riding helmet with its black velvet covering has been remade by San Diego Hat Co. in a structured wool. We love the short, peppy brim and SDHC's addition of a front band secured with eagle-stamped gold buttons. The traditional ribbons at back have morphed into a tab at the cap's peak.

Sew on a colorful ribbon at back to reference the hunt (and give you easy DIY style options). Pair with riding-style boots, but forego the white breeches and scarlet coats. Instead, riff off the formalwear with a shrunken, tailored, dark blazer. (Or go with a Prince of Wales or other glen plaid to make it really pop.)

Another great women's hat this fall is a mashup of several styles. Part Greek fisherman, part engineer's cap, this style has a softly structured, roughly cylindrical top and a short brim braced with a decorative hatband. Brando immortalized a softer, foppier version in The Wild One.

What makes this hat a seasonal fave is the vast range of fabrics and patterns being used. San Diego Hat Company's purple plaid engineer cap (shown, also in red) is a casual-chic boho example, the three-button band a nod to the rakish tilt of Brando's lid. Plaid's just the start: look for embroidery, mod herringbones and a variety of tweeds.

With hats this bold, amp up your look. Plaid cap? Add more plaid in the form of a scarf, blazer or pants. Contrast the big tartan pattern in this hat with a smaller, more subtle design in your outfit. Make it clash to make it work. And the shoes? The shoes. Or rather, the boots. High, polished, dark, heeled.

A more youthful version, the newsboy, is also well-stocked here at Lori's, the biggest difference being a larger, floppier crown (perfect for tucking away long tresses or an ad hoc role in Newsies). Throw on some oxford pumps or a wingtip pattern under pants.

Last but not least, a classic of mid-century menswear, the fedora, has found its way back into our wardrobe. Characterized by a higher, structured crown and wide brim, often with a wide fabric hatband, the fedora was a ubiquitous - and required - piece of men's attire until the '60s when style icons like JFK famously went lidless. The demise of the hat quickly followed.

Or so we thought. We're carrying some cute versions this season in more relaxed fabrics and with a short, snap brim that reminds us of fast-talking newspaper reporters. This look would be great over a structured top like a white menswear dress shirt and some spectator pumps.

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