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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.

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