Pretty Things Thursday: Leah Alexandra Jewellery.

Sometimes there’s just the perfect clash of inspiration: I was pulling pieces for last week’s post on Shopping’s My Cardio, browsing through Magpie Jewellery online for inspiration, and of course multitasking setting up the Anonymouschic Facebook Page.  The result?  Well Magpie Jewllery was having a Leah Alexandra Trunk show, and I found two perfect pieces for the column…but also discovered an utter plethora of pretty things.

{…a sneak peak of the All in the Details post…}

See how easily the pieces work into an outfit?  Positively serendipitous!  Naturally you can see why I was under the impression that the line deserved its own Pretty Things Thursday post.

Inspired by the sandy shores of Cape Cod, this Ryerson-educated designer based out of Vancouver is creating pieces that fit seamlessly into any collection.  In fact the website describes the jewelry as timeless, fresh, and versatile…and I couldn’t agree more.  It’s fairly feminine, but it’s not so dainty that it disappears amongst the other components of an outfit – particularly in the case of those lovely mixed-media tie-back necklaces.

What I also sincerely appreciate is how everything works together building a defined voice and collection.  When browsing through the Leah Alexandra website, I found myself draw towards royal purples and luscious lavenders. Because no single piece is abundantly overbearing, feel free to layer up earrings and a necklace.  Personally I think that the dual-drop earrings wishbone bracelet would make an excellent pairing, but I’m really daydreaming about the grey and cream ribbon necklace paired with a crisp white blouse and black pencil skirt.

{ Celebration Necklace, $210 / Wishbone Bracelet, $128 / Baja Necklace, $98 / Eve Necklace, $84 / Peacock Earrings, $165 / Athena Necklace, $275 }

When browsing the brand on Magpie, I found myself drawn towards pieces that would be veritably versatile – metallic greys, blacks, neutral thin bangles lined with dusky stones.  I’d be inclined to stack all of my picks together, or alternatively focus on the earrings working with my favourite staples like a denim jacket and skinny black pants.

{ Pyrite Social Bracelet, $74 / Erin Bracelet, $74 / Blaire Bracelet, $126 / Eliza Earrings, $118 / Black Garnet Social Bracelet, $74 }

Whatever the source, I’m predicting a seamless transition of Leah Alexandra pieces into any jewelry box.  With prices that speak for quality, but aren’t excessive, I think I’ll be figuring out to how to narrow down my list and see what part of my pre-Christmas pay cheques will be going towards a few new collection additions.  How about it?  Be sure to share what’s catching your eye with the class in the comments.

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Just One Thing: A quirky station wagon clutch.

I’ve seen this clutch a number of times.  When it first came out I was initially perplexed  and then (rather strangely) I found myself thinking it would be a really interesting and cool addition to my collection.  It’s the kind of item that epitomizes how I characterize the direction of the Kate Spade brand: chic and quirky and classic and fun.  I appreciate how simplified and graphic the bag is, and how it makes no excuse for its existence – falling squarely into the realm of an oversized clutch.

{ Knock on Wood Car Clutch, Kate Spade, $358 }

This is a centre-of-attention kind of bag.  I’d pair it with a simple outfit like a black turtleneck or sweater, a classic swing coat, medium or dark wash jeans.  For a some other visual interest add a metallic belt, bold earrings…even a coordinating pair of heels could be in order.  Those metallic penny loafers from a couple weeks ago could have also fit in quite nicely.

{ Heels / Belt / Earrings / Jeans / Jacket / Turtleneck }

While this is by no means a “staple” addition to a handbag wardrobe, it is something I’ll JOT down for when I need to fulfill a craving for a quirky clutch.

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Footwear Friday: The ever elusive ankle boots.

Despite my wardrobe being populated with saturated colour, and more than its fair share of cardigans and preppy oxford button downs, this fall I’m really craving a pair of dusky worn ankle boots.  There’s something about fall that always makes me want a little rustic contrast in my wardrobe, and while I’ve been wary of short boots in the past (my shorter curvy nature always makes me shy away from things that have the potential to make my legs look any less long) I’ve just seen too many excellent options to stay away much longer.  That and I’m constantly haunted by an old Shopping’s My Cardio post when Becki finally decided that she was going to overcome her fears.

So off we trek, with a lovely range of options, and a few notes for when you (and I!) are looking.  In my brief, yet tempting, foray into “research” for this post (ie. online window shopping) I was able to define what caught my eye into two broad categories: those that were dusky (via suede) with a feminine tone and a slight heel, and those that were of the classic and/or rugged flat variety.

Common features of that first group?  Dusky suede or a roughed up leather are a uniting feature, but what really connects them is an emphasis on detailing at the ankle.  Buckles, zippers and tassels all help to keep each of these styles from veering too far into the land of generic and not worth commenting on.  I’m a particular fan of those deep olive/army green Rag & Bone Harrows (7), but more practically the greige pair with woven leather by Joie (2) make more sense with the weather that I’m subject to.  

{ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 }

And then there are those with a little more substance to them.  Pairs from Belle by Sigerson Morrison (10), Dolce Vita (11) & the Frye Engineer 8Rs (13) appeal to my original goal which is a roughed up contrast and call up memories of trying to track down a pair of Frye Engineers with my ever fashionable friend M.  While the Madewell Bikers (12) & Chelseas (14) appeal to the ever so slightly more edgy hipster components of my style (…by relative comparison), the classic clean-cut preppy in me though is giving a silent nod of approval to the J.Crew Bookers (8) & Lindsay Plate’s from Frye (9) though, and unsurprisingly they’re also the ones I’m leaning towards.

{ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 }

All of the pretty boots aside, let’s take a minute and talk about fit.  My ‘research’ also extended to my traipsing around to a few stores and trying things on.  Personally I found that the boots hit one of three places: just below, just at, or about an inch or two above the ankle bone.  Now I know that there will be more than a few who argue that the last category shouldn’t count, but hear me out.  What you’re looking for is how the boot sits relative to the widest point of your calves.  In some instances, if the boot is a touch higher and cut wider at the top, this may actually end up being the most flattering if you have a larger calf.  Options that hug right at the ankle can accentuate the shape of your lower leg (depending on ankle/calf proportions), and those that sit just below really ground an outfit as they draw attention down.  This can be accented or negated by the physical weight / heel height / construction of the boot.  My rule of thumb for low/ankel boots would be that the heel height vs. the height of the boot can be inversely proportional (eg. as the heel height increases, the physical boot height should decrease).

Honestly though, my true loves are the Rag & Bone Durhams (4), I’ve actually gone and visited them at Holts multiple times.  They. Are. Excellent.  But realistically I think I’m leaning towards an option from Frye, either the sleeker Lindsay Plates (9) or a classic pair of Engineer 8Rs (13) – given the fact that I’ve been a long-term fan of their boots.  Then again I may just opt out all together and/or decide that I already own enough boots.

Thoughts, suggestions, or particular boots that are on your radar?  Be sure to share with the class in the comments!

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Colour Code: The firey red of changing leaves.

One of my favourite haunts, Matchbook Mag (…I’ve raved about them before!) does a series on their blog The Daily Spark called “Colour Palette”.  It’s this great series where the pick a pattern or colour or pair of colours and share their favourite finds using that as a theme.  Thusly, I’ve drawn inspiration from that, and as a result of a number of my friends and colleagues concluding the following: “My goodness child, you’re certainly not afraid of wearing colour are you.” (…yes…they all just became southern grandmothers).  And without further ado, I present to you the first instalment of “Colour Code” – an expression of my love for colour, penchant for organization, and of course with a dash of my fashion sense and style thrown into the mix.

~

I’m a fan of the deep wine and oxblood tones that are currently dominating fall trends, but I’d like to take a minute and advocate for a brief alternative: that firey, leaf-changing, orange-red tone.  It all started (as many a fashion obsession in my world does) with a pair of shoes.  While these originally caught my eye because of the shape and details (smoking loafers, tassels, pairing brights & neutrals…originally inspired by Emily on Cupcakes & Cashmere), it wasn’t until after a serendipitous impromptu shopping trip to J.Crew with two of my delightful partners in crime (Miss B & Miss G) that suddenly became smitten with the colour as well!

{Toni Tassel Loafers, J.Crew, $187}

Since that serendipitous trip, I’ve been seeing that colour nearly everywhere (as further evidenced by a quick trip to Holts with my friend W) and I can’t resist sharing a few of my favourites.  Styling wise I’d be inclined to make sure to ground this colour with a solid dose of neutrals (black, taupe, navy, tan,  grey, etc.) and let it shine as the sole accent colour in an outfit.  On the other hand, this colour plays particularly well with teal and royal blue, as exhibited below.  The tweed from Tory Burch even shows that with careful consideration, it plays well with the plum-toned oxbloods.  This is a deeper tone than its predecessors from the spring and summer, and as mentioned I’d describe it as reminiscent of the tones of leaves changing, the warm tones of fires, crisp apples, and as a component part of plaids.  The colour should look rich, an ever so slightly sultry smile as opposed to an all out sunshine induced cheerful grin.

Skirt / Pants / Jacket / Scarf / Belt / Earrings / Shirt / Handbag / Bracelet / Necklace / Heels / Clutch }

Now while I did warn that an abundance of this colour could be a little much, I’d thrown that suggestion out the window if you’re Ginnifer Goodwin at the 2012 Emmy’s…in which case I’d list her amongst the best dressed of the night.  If you’re confident in the colour, you might as well let it take centre stage.

{Ginnifer Goodwin in Monique Lhuillier at the 2012 Emmy’s, Image from PurseBlog.com}

Are you planning on mixing this bit of the colour wheel into your wardrobe?  Be sure to share your ideas or favourite pieces with the class in the comments.

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Essentials Sunday: Crisp weather coats.

Perhaps it’s due to the slightly overcast weather that we’ve been having in this neck of the woods, or because I have a serious soft spot for autumn…but either way, we are undoubtedly on our way into the seasons that require coats.  Now while there’s always a place for the seriously functional (I am absolutely alright with the increasing rotation of my North Face fleece and rain jacket when necessary), there’s always an option for a little flourish and fashion.

My favourite pick as soon as there’s even a touch of chill or dampness in the air is my Barbour Beadnell Waxed Jacket.  I picked mine up about a year and a half ago in London – I was dead-set on a little bit of classic British branding, and clearly went straight for the deep green with brown cord…and a little Liberty rose print lining naturally.  It’s weather friendly, but still undeniably functional.  My particular version is just there on the left (tragically it’s no longer available), but J.Crew has also picked up this delightful pairing and a navy and miniature rose garden print is available on their site.

{ Barbour/Liberty Beadnell Wax Coat: Barbour By Mail, £230 / J.Crew, $399 }

Next up is clearly a good trench.  Classic khaki or black are always options, but again – since outerwear can be so bland – I’d advocate for a little trimming or extra detail.  A couple of my favourite bloggers – Emily of Cupcakes & Cashmere, and Becki of Shopping’s My Cardio – have both featured their own excellent trench finds in the past (seen here and here, respectively), so I know that at the very least Burberry is making some excellent options.  If I were to go looking today, these are three that I would gravitate towards that are perhaps a little more pocketbook friendly, but still capture that idea of classic shape / non-classic detailing.

{ 1 Madison Faux Leather Sleeves, $228 / Sam Edelman Belted Trench, $178 / Gallery Satin Trim, $148 }

And now for the ones that just don’t fit a category, beyond staying true to what I’d argue are my core tenets when I’m looking for a good crisp weather coat: capacity to accommodate layers, a dash of detail, and the promise of a structured fit. 

{ Annabelle Tweed Coat, Tory Burch, $595 / Lady Day Coat, J.Crew, $325 / Plush Twill Coat, Talbots, $269 / Three Quarter Sleeve Tweed, Ming Wang, $300 }

Or for a few that throw all of that rationale out of the window, because the slightly deconstructed mixed-media trend is just too damn cool?

{ 10 Crosby by Derek Lam, $795 / Vince Shirt-Tail, $725 / Rachel Roy Tweed & Faux Leather, $498 }

Whatever the case, my coats are going back in rotation.  Well…my coats plus a healthy contingent of blazer layered over sweaters with a scarf…because sometimes it’s just not that cold.

What are your favourite coats right now, or your go-to that you’re excited to pull out of your closet and back into rotation?  Be sure to share with the class in the comments!

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Must Have Monday: Smoking Slippers.

Oh Stubbs and Wootton, why must you taunt me so?  Since the onslaught of the “smoking slipper” in recent seasons all I can think about every time I see a new incarnation of the style are the completely lovely offerings from who I would arguably dub as the originator that started it all.  They tread that line between feminine and menswear, with a seriously chic old money kind of vibe that dares you to pair casual and sophisticated in the same sentence.

{ Stubbs & Wooton Slippers: Pearl Skimmer, Fouquet Plum, Cane Red, $400 }

While I’m swooning over the fall offerings of Pearl Skimmers and Fouquet Plum, or the needlepoint classics in Cane Red, let’s be realistic for a second. I’m all for a little indulgence and extravagance…but $400 on a pair of seriously weather and outfit dependent velvet loafers…even I have my limits.

The needlepoint offerings from byPaige might end up being my solution. They still cater to that kitschy pattern concept like the S&Ws, but at a more manageable price tag of $195 (…manageable by relative comparison). I’m a particular fan of the Nautical Knots.

{ Nautical Knot Needlepoint, By Paige, $195 }

As per usual, I’ve found something that fits the bill from Cole Haan as well. Fall’s Sabrina loafers are perfectly on trend both in terms of style and shade. The jewel toned hues with contrast piping look simply divine and might give those metallic loafers a run for their money as the newest Cole Haan addition to my collection.  Granted they do challenge with my love/hate relationship with suede – a highly suitable material for these shoes, yet not particularly practical.

{ Sabrina Loafers, Ultraviolet / Dark Teal / Cobalt, Cole Haan, $198 }

On another note, the ones that are due to be the most likely candidate for my wardrobe come from Joie, in the form of their Day Dreaming Flats. Reasonably priced at $175, neutral in colour (yes, I consider red a neutral), and from a brand that I know to be of excellent quality and wear-ability? Sold…as soon as I manage to track down a pair to try on in person. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to conjure up fabulous outfits for them in my head.  Or alternatively, over on Shopping’s My Cardio, where I really had no choice but to feature them as this week’s detail on Thursday.

{ Day Dreaming Flats, Joie, $175 }

Thoughts?  Are you going to be sliding your way into some slippers anytime soon, and if so…care to share some of your favourites with the class?

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Pretty Things Thursday: Alexis Bittar & Magpie Jewellery.

So I decided to get out of the city last weekend, and take a trip to Ottawa to visit a dear friend of mine (the stylish W, who picked up these beautiful Bittars at the Magpie Trunk Show).  There’s a saying in her family (as coined by her sister) that the first piece of jewellery that one gets by the designer Alexis Bittar is referred to as “being Bittarded”.  Well guys and dolls…I suppose that now we can safely say that I’ve been Bittarded, and have found a new jewellery addiction: the Lucite Collection from Alexis Bittar.  This signature collection from Alexis Bittar is hand carved and painted, and described as combining Bittar’s interest in texture, colour, and light.

{…a few of my current covets from Alexis Bittar…}

O’Keeffe Matte Gold Cuff, $138 / Clustered Vine Pendant, $195 / Gunmetal Sophia Hinge, $295 / Golden Splatter Encased Hinge, $173 / Gold Sophia Hinge, $295 / Gold Wafer Earrings, $150 }

While browsing around in the Glebe we popped into Magpie Jewellery…and my oh my am I ever glad we did, as it’s the source of my new Bittars!  The store itself is lovely, with a great mix of items ranging from basic sterling silver that I would have coveted in middle and high school, right through to stunning rings and other such divine discoveries that may stay right on the fringes of the possibilities of my paycheque for a few years.  I can see this store being the source of a number of Pretty Things posts in the future.

{…a few Magpie favourites…}

TeNo Orbit, $250 / Hilary Druxman Sterling & Pearl, $100 / Silver Seasons Geranium, $73 / Alexis Bittar Liquid Gold, $150 }

But back to Bittar.  The Lucite collection is really interesting – very eyecatching in a subtle smokey double take kind of way, mixed with bold statement additions courtesy of gems and hardware.  I’m particularly smitten with the bracelets and bangles.  While perfectly lovely on their own, they also lend themselves well to stacking, taking on different colours and tones depending on the others that you pair them with, and the outfit that they compliment.  And with so many hinged varieties, one really can’t go wrong.  I’m also sufficiently enamoured with the earrings and necklaces which I would generally put in the categories of chic and elegant.  What I also appreciate about the majority of the collection is that it’s not prohibitively expensive.

The two pieces that caught my eye were this lovely little necklace that has an almost leaf-like motion to it, and a hinged bangle with hammered gold hardware – both in a versatile dusky grey.  I’m already dreaming up a whole slough of outfits to pair them with, and think they’ll be particularly excellent layered up with my Elsa Peretti Pearls by the Yard.

{…my beautiful Bittars…}

Now I know that Alexis Bittar is nothing new (his designs have been donned since the early 1990s, and he paired with Patricia Field for custom Sex & the City pieces)…but considering the infrequency with which I see his lovely works in the jewellery collections of many of my friends, probably worth a mention as I know of more than a few who would become fast fans.

If you happen to be in Ottawa, I must recommend that you go and check out Magpie – particularly the location in the Glebe where you should go and say hi to Kristin, the lovely associate who helped me with my first Bittars.  Magpie is also online, which makes browsing from afar a possibility.  If you’re not quite in that neck of the woods, you can find Bittar stockists on the Alexis Bittar websiteNordstrom, Neiman’s and Holts are a few more mainstream alternatives that I’m aware of.

PS:  The White and Gold Wafer earrings?  You can check out next week’s All in the Details on Shopping’s My Cardio to see how I’d style them!

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