As we are now in the throes of summer, we’ve asked several accomplished women of style whom we admire to come up with their Sweet Summer Indulgences for the season. This week we invited Stacey Bewkes—Founder of Quintessence, a luxury lifestyle blog. After seventeen years as an art director in New York City, Stacey left the corporate world and continued her love of design through the creation of Quintessence, an award winning online guide to the best in style and substance. From art and architecture, interiors and design, fashion and jewelry to books and movies, food and wine, travel and more, Quintessence has become a trusted source for well-researched, original content in the online world. She is also the co-creator, with author Susanna Salk, of the popular design video series. And, Stacey has contributed her brand of fashion commentary to Women’s Voices over the years.—Ed.
Favorite Summer Destination: I’ve been going to Nantucket every summer for over 30 years. Each year there is something to discover: a new little lane, new shops and restaurants, and new friends. Yet, there is a timeless New England charm that is carefully preserved on the island.
Image by Michael Galvin via Flickr (Creative Commons License)
Favorite Hotel: A new favorite is the Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy where my video partner Susanna Salk and I stayed last October after filming the antiques fair in Parma. With a beautiful setting, attentive friendly service and well-appointed rooms with magnificent views, it is a wonderful location from which to explore the glorious Italian Riviera. Take the time to do the five kilometer walk to Portofino. It’s amazing!
The beauty of Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy
Favorite Restaurant: I actually don’t eat out all that much. Both my husband and I like to stay home and cook. But, I recently ate at the new Ralph Lauren Polo Bar in New York where the food was fabulous (amazing Dover sole) and the decor is chic, quintessential Ralph.
Favorite Boutique: I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one, but I like shopping in smaller stores and boutiques where there is unique merchandise that is artfully displayed and the sales people are well informed and helpful, but not hovering.
Current Summer Reading: I am about to start The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.
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Current Film on Your List to See this Summer: I’m a sucker for most things related to Sherlock Holmes. So I’m looking forward to seeing Ian McKellen in Mr. Homes as the nonagenarian detective. While my kids aren’t sure I’ll like it, I think I have to see Amy Schumer in Trainwreck (read Women’s Voices’ review). Lastly, if you haven’t seen it, put Alex Garland’s Ex Machina on your list—a thought-provoking and suspenseful statement on the future of technology and the human condition.
What to Wear to a Summer Party: For most summer parties, I wear white pants or jeans with a longer patterned lightweight top. I have a selection from sleeveless chiffon to tunics. For a dressier affair, I’ll wear a long dress in a solid color.
Preferred Summer Accessories: My favorite accessory, no matter the season, is big bold jewelry. In the summer, I frequently wear a long vintage carved ivory necklace. Large thin matte gold hoops are my summer staple for earrings. I also have a rather large collection of summer sandals, from strappy gold toned heels to comfortable wedges. It’s always the hardest thing for me to narrow down when I’m packing. I also like long cardigans. Everywhere seems to be over-air conditioned, so I like to have an extra layer that I can drape or tie around my shoulders if it gets too warm.
Stuart Weitzman, Sweeper Chain Cork Demi-Wedge Sandal
Favorite Summer Fragrance: My longtime fragrance, Hermès Calèche Eau Delicate, was recently discontinued. So I now have a selection from their tailor-made nomad set and I’m trying out a few new ones. My current favorites are Un Jardin Sur Le Toit and Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.
Necessary Summer Indulgence: Ice cream!
Favorite House Gift for a Summer Weekend Invitation: I love trying to find something appropriate and personal for each person but a go-to gift that is always appreciated is flowers in a beautiful vase that can be reused. My favorite that goes with everyone’s decorating style is Frances Palmer’s Shane Pot.
Shane Pot by Frances Palmer
Favorite Summer Entertaining Tips: Keep it simple. Grilled steak or swordfish, barbecued chicken, or marinated and butterflied leg of lamb are what we usually serve with a selection of salads so there’s something for the vegetarians as well. And keep the chilled Rosés and light red Burgundies flowing.
Last month I attended quite a few shows at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. While there is always a variety of trends from the tents, the overriding theme for fall was the timeless marriage of black and white. Whether concentrating on one of these neutrals head to toe in a mix of materials, color-blocked together or in graphic patterns like houndstooth, the perennial classic is back big time for fall. The good news about knowing what lies ahead is that you can plan what in your closet you might want to keep or donate as well as take advantage of current sales that might complete a look for the season. Let’s take a peek at a few of the looks from designers whose creations will be serving as inspiration for many of the more reasonably priced lines.
Here Ralph Rucci combines fabulous leather lace and cashmere in this elegant ensemble. The mix of luxurious materials was a hallmark of many collections and easy to replicate within your own closet.
Sheer fabrications continue to trend for fall, as seen in the elegant back of this Ralph Rucci confection.
When it comes time to consider fall entertaining and holiday affairs, be sure to pull out or purchase any flowing silks or chiffons with sparkle aplenty—a look seen at the beautiful Jenny Packham show.
While few of us can afford the extravagance of J. Mendel, we can certainly be inspired by his exquisite collection. Be on the lookout for examples of beautiful beading . . .
. . . and the pairing of sumptuous fabric—a wonderful idea for any black-tie event.
Winter white is an elegant option, as seen at Carolina Herrera. Whether you are sporting separates or wearing a gown, there will be a plethora of pretty examples by the end of summer as the collections start rolling in.
Fur is here to stay for another year. Whether real or fun fake, it was featured in almost every show as an outerwear option or trim. And don’t forget to consider it as an accessory—a scarf, muff, or hat is a great way to get in on the action. This knitted fox vest at J. Mendel is a perfect example of how to combine two trends at once, and a perfect example of how to dress up classic basics.
Graphic pattern galore was seen across the board, including versions of haberdashery staples such as herringbone and houndstooth. Here, a blown-up version at Michael Kors made a dramatic statement. Consider even shopping the men’s or boy’s stores if you don’t find great examples in your department.
And in closing, while these high-end designers provide the direction for the season, you will be able to find these trends at all price points. J. Crew, who for the last few seasons has made a presentation at Fashion Week, showed a fantastic collection. With a broader range of customers in mind, it offered many fabulous classic-with-a-twist selections to choose from. These two looks show the black-and-white theme in casual-chic mode.
I am seriously considering the wonderful coat, which could easily transition from day to evening and has that mildly ethnic appeal that is also continuing through the season. Don’t forget to check out J. Crew’s wonderful line of accessories, even wearing two necklaces at once, as shown here, for statement allure.
Even the smallest additions can make an outfit sing like this charming minaudière.
So just remember—black and white is always right, especially for the coming fall/winter fashion season!
Photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence.
After the success last week of Debbi O’Shea’s Polyvore posting on how to update your little black dress for spring, we decided to ask her to do the same for white. White is a staple in everyone’s spring/summer wardrobe, and with all the season’s socializing, we love learning ways to reaccessorize our basics!—Ed.
I adore white dresses in the summer, but a “LWD” will inevitably have a shorter shelf life than a “LBD.” For that reason, I looked to find one that was both on trend and feminine, and that could be worn for a season or two without breaking the bank. I lucked out and found a white lace BCBGMaxAzria sheath dress for $248. It is the linchpin of all three looks.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to be in New York on a beautiful night, sipping cocktails with friends on a garden terrace in the sky? Even warm days cool down, so pairing the same LWD with this black Antonio Marras three-quarter-sleeve black cardigan would be smart and look relaxed and stylish. The cobalt and black Pucci Python clutch is a seasonless beauty that would be equally fetching with a black dinner suit in the winter. The splurge is the Manolo Blahnik Vitribium black and white linen scalloped pumps . . . sometimes a girl just has to do it.
Casual Mondays at the Office
- “Milestone” birthdays: What do we do with them? And why do they keep coming? At “Lovin’ the Alien,” WVFC’s Alexandra MacAaron takes that challenge and runs with it, with “Fifty reasons to be glad” to turn 50. Some of the fifty will feel familiar—”I don’t have to feel guilty if I want to go to bed early” and “I don’t even try to wear high heels anymore (except on very special occasions),” and some less familiar but still entertaining: “Once, thanks to my best friend’s mother, I got to meet Mr. Rogers.” Click over for the rest, if only for the hilarious Ethel Barrymore movie poster.
- WVFC fashion editor Stacey Bewkes has had a packed year, crossing continents and winning awards for her design blog Quintessence. And last week, Bewkes covered a special event closer to home: Design on a Dime, which Bewkes called “one of the most popular design events in the New York community. Benefiting Housing Works‘ programs for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, it attracts more than 50 top tier designers who create rooms with donated merchandise, which is then sold for 50-70% off retail.” At the event’s opening night, she adds, “This spring’s vignettes were fabulous and judging by the lines at checkout, the evening was a huge success.” As befits a former art director at Simon & Schuster, Bewkes sees some of the interiors as fine art: “The open fretwork-like American walnut folding screen from High Point favorite Lazy Susan gave the space the illusion of height, giving the “impression of a space beyond what we can see.” Click over for more, including glowing photos of it all.
- The just-announced Tony nominations include many goodies for WVFC (more on that later), not least a nod to 51, for her role playing Judy Garland in Under the Rainbow. At Broadway&Me, Jan Simpson explains why: “Bennett is giving the kind of leave-your-heart-on-the-stage performance that even Garland might applaud.” Simpson felt only so-so about the play itself, she explains, but “Bennett is a dynamo onstage and, like Garland, she seems willing to do anything to make you love her. According to the New York Post, Bennett is even playing hostess at a bar that’s been set up backstage to entertain visiting celebrities after the show Although she doesn’t really look like Garland, isn’t as magnetically charismatic (who is?) and isn’t as soulful a singer . . . Bennett is terrific when it comes to portraying the star’s desperate neediness, maddening stubbornness, and endearing ability to laugh at herself.” Buy your tickets now.
- Nashville TV journalist Renee Syler has seen a lot of transitions over the years, but finds herself reflecting at her blog Good Enough Mother about one of the most puzzling: “My mission, when I accepted it nearly 17 years ago, was to raise first one and then (SURPRISE!) two kids. My objective in life had shifted from writing the All American Novel destined to change the world to turning these two drooling tiny little miniature people into giving, caring, and productive members of society. This week, I blinked to find that, for one of the boys, that ride is almost over.” Syler describes an unaccustomed lunch with her older son, 17: “There was something humbling in watching my child grow up, make grown up decisions, and hold an adult conversation right before my very eyes.” Syler takes a deep breath and reminds herself that “baby steps I guess is the thing to remember. Lots and lots of baby steps. As for my overall goal to change the world via my children . . . well . . . we’ll count this lunch as a mid-term exam of sorts.”
- Our profile yesterday of umpire Perry Barber came just in time for the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that opened the world of sports to more women. On the Issues‘ spring issue explores that legacy in depth, including where it still falls short—including the movies, writes producer Ariel Dougherty in “Films Lag in Sharing Women’s Athletic Dreams.” “I was 13 when Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals in track and field in Rome in 1960,” writes Dougherty, a co-founder of Women Make Movies, who pulled in Rudolph to narrate her first documentary about it in 1972: “We envisioned a documentary that explored different levels of sport by focusing on a professional team, an amateur team and a community sports activity.” Forty years later, she says, there are still far too few films to provide role models women: only “31 dramatic features and documentaries” are on a list from The Women’s Sports Foundation. It’s important because “Women’s sports media on the Internet has a huge potential,” Dougherty concludes, “These tales of courage and overcoming adversity are powerful film subjects.” Click over for a thorough discussion, including history, analysis, and clips like the one below, about an early 20th-century girls’ basketball team at the Fort Shaw Indian School (portrayed top right), who became world champions in 1902 competing with non-Indian teams from all over the country.
This spring, fashion’s biggest story is saturated color. Silhouettes include ladylike dresses, tunics, bowed sleeveless blouses, and skirts in all shapes and lengths. After two seasons of “greige,” the effect is bit like stepping into Oz for the first time. Juicy pops of lemon, lime, mango, and pink grapefruit co-exist next to riotous reds and bolts of blue in solids and prints Also under that rainbow? Skinny jeans in every shade you could wish for.
What’s the simplest, most economical way to balance all this heady color with footwear? Nude shoes, of course. They abound in pumps, peep-toes, slingbacks, wedges, sandals, and ballet flats, in every height and price point.
Look how beautifully Maria Sharapova wore this iris Rodarte dress to New York Fashion Week, paired with a simple nude sandal. All eyes up.
In true “Jackie” fashion, Catherine Middleton, Dutchess of Cambridge, wears a poppy Catherine Walker dress and coat ensemble with nude platform pumps on a recent outing.
These brightly colored jeans, which you’ll be tempted to wear, also look great paired with a crisp white tee, or, for fun, a printed top or another solid pop of color. Cleanest shoe option? Nude, of course.
Here are just a few examples of nude footwear that could easily accompany most colorful outfits in your wardrobe.
The ultimate is Mr. Blahnik’s elegant collection for spring. From his classic patent high heel pump
or lovely Savamifac patent cutout pump, there is a choice for everyone.
However, there are terrific choices at more approachable price points as well. This Nine West pump is as versatile as it gets. A modern take on the classic peep-toe, the subtle platform offers comfort and a little extra elongation for the leg!
Or if you prefer something a bit barer, the Nine West sandal, again with a little bit of a platform, is a great pant or dress shoe.
This pretty nude patent wedge from J. Crew is a fresh option for spring
And for those who prefer flats, or who walk to work, J. Crew offers this stylish solution.
So, as you pull out your brights for spring, don’t forget to try neutral on the bottom to pull your eye upward, where it counts!!
This week, blogs sparred about the lost Whitney Houston, shared some of the newest Fall 2012 designs from Fashion Week, and pondered the impact on older voters of some of the new voter-ID restrictions.
- As the blogosphere mourned Whitney Houston, some voices of our generation provided sanity. Author Susie Bright cautioned against media’s pigeonholing of the event as just another celebrity drug death: “Statistically, the number one reason that a woman like Whitney, of her age and background, would die at this age is: heart disease. Plain, old fashioned, anyone-coulda-been-affected, HEART DISEASE.” Other factors, contributory or not, were not the whole story, Bright says. And Farai Chideya remembers adoring Houston when she was a teenage star on the cover of Seventeen:“When I looked in the mirror, I did not see Whitney Houston staring back, but as I fluffed my hair and put on my makeup (quite poorly!), she was who I wanted to be. She, in my eyes, was perfection. Now, with her later life and death, she is perfection undone. No one is perfect in the way the media presents celebrities (often later to tear them down); but no matter what life Houston led her talent will go down in history.” Chideya’s ending is its own elegiac song.
- Fashion Week New York has begun, and our fashion editor Stacey Bewkes was right there for her site Quintessence, with photos and analysis starting with the Monika Chiang show. Chiang “continues to hone her vision as I saw in her capsule spring collection,” Stacey writes. “With strong tailored lines, her clothes are feminine and sexy for the confident modern woman.” Click over for more, and maybe bookmark the site for the rest of the week.
- Only some of us can play, but you might: MORE magazine executive editor Judith Coyne is crowd-sourcing the Wisdom Project, a guide for the rest of us. “In six decades you’ve learned a lot, and we’d like to hear about it,” Coyne writes. “Where you feel you’ve succeeded in your life, where you may have faltered, what advice you’d give to younger More readers. And who knows? If you take this opportunity to reflect, you may even learn from yourself, crystallizing your experience to prepare for your own future.” We hope eligible WVFC-ers can pitch in.
- Minnesota journalist Daughter Number Three grasped hold last week of a currently sticky issue, noticing a letter to the newspaper about the new raft of voter-ID laws: “The dilemma is this: To obtain a picture ID card, one needs a certified birth certificate with the embossed seal (not a copy) and an original Social Security card. In situations I worked with, the adults did not have an original Social Security card or the needed birth certificate. However, to obtain a Social Security card, one needs a picture ID card and a birth certificate. So, you can see the problem. It is not always easy to obtain a birth certificate. And there is the cost, which is prohibitive to some people. . . . [Obtaining the required documents] takes time, and not all people have professionals to assist them.” We can think of some aging parents who might have trouble with these requirements, yet would be FURIOUS if told they suddenly can’t vote.
- Did Miss Thistlebottom shame you in second grade—command you not to sing with the other kids? Happily, all those “shushers” who’ve stifled your musical spirit for decades may have been wrong! Click over to NYcitywoman.com to revel in the story of writer Linda Tagliaferro—quenched as a kid—who found her voice in midlife. Singling lessons taught her that by focusing on her breath, she could carry a tune. . .and well. Enjoy her triumph over the Thistlebottoms in her life: Hear below, Taliagferro singing the formidable “Queen of the Night” aria from The Magic Flute. Her article was written to encourage you to go for the joy of singing—and tells you where to find excellent singing courses designed for adults.
Last week, WVFC inaugurated our Fashion Friday series, which spotlights a dozen fashionable women who will share with us how they manage to stay warm and still look stylish in this nippy season. These tips come from Liz Lange, whose latest collection is Completely Me by Liz Lange, with HSN. Lange also runs the fun shopping site Shopafrolic, which she co-founded with sister Jane.—Ed.
Here are Liz’s picks for the “Essential Five”:
|Shearling boots. They look chic and keep me cozy and warm all winter long. I love a pair with a lug sole (with either a wedge, like these, or a more traditional heel). The height makes me feel taller and thinner, and the rubber traction keeps me skid-free as I am trudging through the snow. I pair them with skirts or denim/cords and walk around saying, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry…”|
|“Fur” vest. I layer mine over one of my favorite winter coats to make it even warmer and transform it into a different-looking coat. Then when I am inside I can take off my coat and just wear my vest as a chic part of my outfit.|
|Great-looking “fisherman style” sweaters. This one isn’t exactly fisherman, but it has that look. I pair it with my skinny cords and boots, or sometimes I dress it up with a little skirt. I own this in ivory and red. LOVE!|
|Corduroys. I love the look of slim cords with boots, ballet flats or stilettos all winter long. This walnut color is my absolute favorite. It is so chic paired with other shades of camel or ivory.|
|Bold costume jewelry. I wear brightly colored costume jewelry all winter long. It brightens my outfits and lifts my mood. I live for this khaki/red combo. I wear two of these, one on each wrist OVER my solid colored sweaters.|
(VIDEO) The Wednesday Five: Stockard Channing’s Knees, Occupying the ERA, and The Cyber-Magic of Tory Burch
This week, blogs flirted with off-season fashion, urged activism on gender violence and the Equal Rights Amendment, and honored bravery, from the Egyptian elections to Stockard Channing’s stage injuries.
- Fashion Week is long gone, but there’s a surprising amount of fashion coverage about. Lauren Indvik at Mashable tells us how designer Tory Burch has become such a sensation so quickly: digital marketing, especially social media. “We’re currently on Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Weibo, which is run by our team in Shanghai, in partnership with our editorial team in NYC. [Tory has] always embraced social media, and if it feels right for our brand, we’ll launch it, test our way into it, learn quickly and make adjustments as appropriate.” That probably includes one of Burch’s biggest fans, WVFC’style maven Stacey Bewkes, who herself gives us another fashion flash: a visit, at her site Quintessence, to Monika Chang’s new preview store.
- At least three people have asked lately, “Whatever happened to the Equal Rights Amendment?” We’ve been asking the same, as you know (here, WVFC’s Carla Baranauckas makes a particularly cogent case). This week at Huffington Post 50 Plus, Hannah Gruderman charges us all to lead a new movement to push for ratification–or, as she fashionably calls it, the Occupy ERA Movement. “There are some who may believe the ERA is an outdated concept put forth by the original vanguard of the women’s movement in the 1960s, and one that is no longer relevant,” she writes. “The truth, in fact, is quite the opposite. It has never been more important, essential and urgent than it is now. Women continue to be undervalued, underemployed, and underpaid–across all sectors–compared with their male counterparts. This must be changed.” She has a very specific action plan, including those social-media tools Burch deploys. Click over, and do your part if you’re so moved.
- In addition to Thanksgiving, last week marked the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. While it’s too late to organize an event, we can still participate. “Over 250 events are planned worldwide to call for an end to militarism and violence against women, including: A Silent No More! march through Yerevan, Armenia, focusing on violence against women; Across Alice Springs, Australia, a series of arts events focused on women’s resilience is organized, including a quilt exhibition; In Lagos, Nigeria, student trainings and dialogues with media outlets will be held to sensitize communities about gender-based violence; The Center for Women’s Global Leadership will co-host a Java n’ Justice Coffeehouse, featuring a military fashion show, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.” The Rutgers center has full details, including a calendar.
- Speaking of women around the world, this week’s elections in Egypt are still being bravely covered by the women journos we profiled this spring, often at great risk. Women’s Media Center reports the harsh news some of us heard on Twitter over the weekend, that Mona Eltahawy had been picked up by intelligence and Ministry of Interior agents near Tahrir Square, assaulted and released; the WMC blog has photos of Eltahawy in her casts from two broken wrists, as well as other women who’ve risked a lot to keep women’s story part of this revolution.
- We’ve always loved Stockard Channing, from Grease to The West Wing. Now, Brett Smiley at New York Magazine tells us that not even surgery will keep her down: Channing is “heading back to the stage of Other Desert Cities less than a week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. She went under the knife to repair a knee that collapsed backstage after a November 18 show. The surgery kept her out of seven shows, but no more. ‘This is may be stupid. I don’t know,’ Channing said. ‘But if it doesn’t blow up or get painful, I’m doing the right thing. ‘” We agree with Smiley that Channing is amazing whatever happens, and watching the Playbill video below makes us wonder if there are still tickets available.
Fall is just starting to make an appearance, but it was spring last week at Lincoln Center and around Manhattan as designers showed their collections for the next major season. Not every trend was over-40 worthy, but there were plenty of styles that met the criteria of fashionable, flattering, and/or fun for women in our demographic. What’s more, many will be easily replicated without the need to completely overhaul one’s closet or take out a small loan. A single investment in a simple frock here, a few well-chosen accessories there, and come spring it will be easy to incorporate the most stylish looks into one’s basic warm-weather wardrobe.
|While there were several concurrent trends to discern, most of the collections embraced the continued use of bright optimistic colors, from the neon hues at the youthful Nanette Lepore show …|
|to the prevalent tangerine orange seen here at Christian Siriano …|
|and Derek Lam …|
|to the color-blocking combinations from many such as Yigal Azrouel. Adding a little color to your wardrobe will be an essential yet easy way to stay current come spring.|
|Pattern was everywhere, with florals a popular motif. While you may not be ready for the bold statement of Prabal Gurung’s vision,|
|many collections offered tamer selections, such as Ralph Lauren’s nostalgic Gatsby-esque florals in pastel hues …|
|and Lela Rose’s feminine painterly dresses.|
|In contrast to the florals, graphic geometrics were in play. Michelle Smith’s Sonia Delaunay- inspired collection for Milly offered everything from simple stripes to an eye-popping panoply of patterns.|
|J. Mendel’s ode to Dorothy Draper showed beautifully draped, flowing dresses with pretty pleats.|
|Even Carolina Herrera offered a lesson in geometry for the uptown girls.|
|And for something in between, Derek Lam offered bold prints in a combination of the two.|
|For more diverse pattern, look to Michael Kors’ “Afriluxe” collection. Animal prints just never go out of style and his ode to South Africa’s Lebombo Lodge included many pieces that although styled for the runway I’m sure will include very wearable versions once the collection hits the stores.|
|Donna Karan went tribal for spring, inspired by her recent work in Haiti. The bold, earth-toned prints, a nod to the work of the Haitian artist Philippe Dodar, were still sleek and modern.|
|For those who like their fashion straight up, black and white were still out in force. The breathtaking collection at CHADO Ralph Rucci, presented to the slow, sexy beat of Ravel’s “Bolero,” proved that non-color is still relevant. His exquisitely tailored pieces received mid-show ovations for their spectacular use of fabric and detailing.|
|I love The Row’s restrained tailored look. For spring they offered streamlined silhouettes in white contrasting fabrics for a serene Zen-like feel.|
In addition to the major trends, there were many subthemes—athletic-inspired pieces were seen at many of the lines, including varying interpretations of the anorak, a handy piece to have for weekend wear. Metallics were back in force, again easy to add with accessories such as a belt, sandal, scarf, or little top for evening. A great summer look will be metallic with white—from white jeans to a full-length skirt. Menswear saw play with jackets and soft tailoring. But the general feeling overall was that of an easy, flowing casualness. Even in the gowns, it was all about the drape and flow.
In considering how to add these trends to your wardrobe for spring, remember you only need a few pieces to enhance the core of your wardrobe basics. If you don’t already own one, consider adding a sheath in a flattering bright color. It is an incredibly useful item that can be easily accessorized to work for any number of occasions, day or night. Think of it as your little black dress for the season. And while you may not want to fully embrace the floral or graphic looks, adding a blouse, jacket, or even a scarf will help update your closet without too much damage to the wallet. Don’t forget that all these runway looks will be interpreted for the masses by the lower price lines. Everyone from Ann Taylor to Talbots to the department stores will have many options. And the most important advice is to have fun and feel free to express your inner fashion spirit!
The Wednesday Five: Christie Brinkley Takes London, White House Sexism, Wal-Mart’s Gender-Washing, and the Quintessence of Fashion
This week our blog love caught us up with Christie Brinkley and Sarah Jessica Parker, wondered whether the Obama White House is a boys’ club, and looked critically at Wal-Mart’s new woman-friendly PR campaign.
- Third Age.com has grown by leaps and bounds since last we checked, with sections on Dating, Wellness, Caregiving, and more added to its ever-popular forums for boomer women. We wondered what celebrity news seized its attention, and that’s how we learned that Christie Brinkley, 57, was in London headlining a West End production of “Chicago.” Of course, Brinkley looks “positively fabulous,” writes one forum member, who goes on to say, “Christie was a big hit when she appeared in the long-running production in New York. And she always looked great for the paparazzi when she arrived each night at the stage door. Christie claims it is her exercise routine and a strict vegetarian diet that keeps her looking so good…” In any event, Brinkley’s a “showstopper,” the writer concludes. Time to venture across the pond?
- Tennessee Guerilla Women zeroes in on the first revelation of note in Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, journalist Ron Suskind’s new book about the early days of the Obama administration: that the President’s men have (or at least have had) “a woman problem.” No, not philandering—something much worse. “The White House is a ‘hostile workplace’ for women,” notes TGW’s Egalia. “In that hostile boys’ club, women are routinely ignored and excluded. Wow. Who could have ever predicted such a thing?” Click over for quotes from the book, and understand better why women in the West Wing meet regularly to organize even inside the corridors of power.
- Just in case you thought we’d get through Fashion Week Plus with no word from WVFC fashion maven Stacey Bewkes: She’s got some luscious coverage over at her blog Quintessence, with striking photos. We were particularly taken with her look at the newest from Michael Kors, but there’s equally eye-catching stuff from Ralph Rucci and from Gilles Mendel’s Dorothy Draper-style collection. We’re hoping Stacey finds the time to sketch out some common spring trends for WVFC, as with her popular pieces on Leopard, Camel, and White Lightning.
- Wondering what to think of Wal-Mart’s new “Global Women’s Empowerment” PR campaign? So were we. Luckily, Ms. Magazine’s new blog starts with a commentary from Martha Burk, former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations. Burk deconstructs the Arkansas company’s commitment to source $20 billion from women‑owned businesses and invest in management training for women, and relates it to the company’s victory in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes discrimination suit. “While the new initiative is heavy on training women in foreign countries who work for Wal-Mart suppliers, it doesn’t say anything about training managers in the U.S. on how to be fair in choosing folks for pay raises and promotions,” Burk writes. “The Dukes v. Wal-Mart case has implications far beyond training programs and health education for female employees in Bangladesh.” Along the way, Burk invents the term “gender-washing,” which we look forward to using when any company trots out their token women to cover up misogyny.
- Ahhh, Sarah Jessica Parker. Will she never stop turning up where we’re already looking next? At SheKnows.com, Kim Grundy catches Parker’s talk-show appearances promoting her new movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” Whether or not the clip below makes you want to see the film, we can all empathize with what Parker told Anderson Cooper about wrangling her three kids: “I’m a traffic controller,” she said. “The alarm clocks go off and there are children to be fed and get out the door somewhat on time. Forcing children to brush their teeth, put on winter coats when they don’t want to, sometimes holding them down and shoving coats on them, it’s beat the clock all day.” Of course, most of us don’t have her staff. Still, it’s good to see a 46-year-old carrying a major movie with such aplomb.
As summer’s end approaches, bloggers worried about the lack of women in Washington budget talks, but blogland stayed mostly steamy, with Jane Fonda’s sex guide and thought-provoking memories of the film Dirty Dancing.
- “Here’s the math: Women are 50.7 percent of our population, only 17 percent of Congress, and an appallingly low 8 percent of the Super Committee,” writes Kristin Rowe-Finklebeiner at Moms Rising, referring to the legislative action team appointed after the recent debt-ceiling crisis in Washington. That is true, she adds, even though women will be disproportionately affected by proposed budget cuts. Rowe points out that inclusion of women is demonstrably essential to a good outcome, citing “A 19-year Pepperdine University survey of Fortune 500 companies [that] showed that those with the best record of promoting women outperformed the competition by anywhere from 41 to 116 percent. Our economy needs every bit of entrepreneurship possible, and disproportionately leaving out women hampers our nation’s success.” Godspeed to that one woman, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington: we have your back, and hope you have ours.
- We mentioned Jane Fonda’s new book Prime Time a few weeks ago, but Ceri Roberts at AOL Lifestyle points out something that should delight WVFCers: frank sex talk from the former Barbarella. “I have never found a book that talks about everything from the psyche and sprit and wisdom to penile implants,” Fonda told Time magazine recently. “So I decided that I’d write about as much of the research as I possibly could — everything I wanted to know as a woman who is 73 years old and still sexually active.” We’d love to have Fonda in our next Sex Talk series, and see if our sex expert Dr. Hilda Hutcherson and our racy publisher could shock her.
- Speaking of that publisher, Dr. Allen makes a stylish appearance in this week’s Quintessence, the blog of WVFC style maven Stacey Bewkes. Among the beautifully-photographed china and cutting-edge fabrics Bewkes found on her New England journey, click over and check out Dr. Allen in a hat oddly similar to the one featured in her recent report from the Highland Games, though in less Scottish garb.
- What would you do if you suddenly found yourself unemployed? At Successful Blog guest writer Molly, a co-founder of Women Who Drive Foundation, experienced that exactly a year ago, and describes what the year has been like — a year that included getting her foundation started. “I believe wholeheartedly that we are never presented with anything too big for us to handle,” she writes. “If we have the ability to recognize the challenge, then we have the capacity to overcome it. Our responsibility lies with identifying the skill required within ourselves that we have allowed to remain dormant or underdeveloped necessary to overcome the challenge at hand.” Now that’s the kind of reinvention we love.
- Quickly: what do you remember about the 1987 film Dirty Dancing — the dancing, the sex or the politics? Even a politics junkie like your editor has to confess mostly remembering the bodies, whether writhing clothed on the dance floor or the half-clothed young Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. But as Sarah at Feministe points out, recent talk of a remake has prompted a wave of feminist effort to reclaim the film from the ugly-duckling storyline used in its marketing — including this from Atlantic writer Alyssa Rosenberg and a Jezebel.com-sponsored benefit including screenwriter/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein, whose memories prompted the film. Irin Carmon at Jezebel even declares it “The Greatest Movie of All Time.” We wouldn’t go quite that far, but streaming the film via Netflix after reading it all, we saw anew the protagonist Bergstein created: “Told her whole life that she could do anything and change the world, she’s faced with the hypocrisy of a long-shunned minority enacting its own unexamined exclusion, this time on class grounds. The guests at [the resort hotel] look comfortable, but they were raised in the Depression and traumatized by World War II. She can contrast the welcome her family received at the resort with the chilly, dismissive one Johnny and his working class dance crew gets. She can dance with the owner’s son and thaw a little when she learns he’s going freedom riding with the bus boys…” If you’re still not sold, then read the links. But first, here’s the reason most people remember the film:
The Wednesday Five: News Junkies for Truth, Design Secrets and the Paycheck Fairness Act as National Security
This week in blogland, feminist Robin Morgan on the recent “sex scandals,” glimpses of award-winning fabrics being born, and why the Paycheck Fairness Act is the ultimate example of family values.
- We’ve all felt slapped by the news lately, with more powerful-men-behaving-badly stories than usual. It’s time, we guess, for the premier Feminist News Junkie, eminence grise et belle Robin Morgan. She slices through what’s most creepy about the recent stories about Arnold S., criminal cases involving New York City cops and the head of the International Monetary Fund, and even Osama bin Laden’s porn stash. Raising questions about the meaning of consent in the Schwarzenegger and John Ensign cases, Morgan then inoculates us: “Inappropriate. Consensual. She came onto him. Womanizing. No sense of humor. Rumors and allegations. Conspiracy to frame him. Phrases we all, men as well as women, by now ought to recognize immediately, which would save us from repeatedly falling over platitudes with an air of great discovery.”
- Women in Uganda are taking the future of their country into their hands with a “Walk to Work” campaign, writes Beatrice Lamwaka at Ms. Musings. Earlier this month, they marched through Kampala demanding change, carrying placards “with demands such as ‘For a country without bread, bullets cannot be food,’ ‘Stop shooting our babies,’ ‘Women of Uganda want peace,’ ‘Fuel prices must go down’ and ‘Respect women’s bodies during arrests.’ ” We’d like to add one more demand, Listen to those women, because we’ve got their backs.
- Lara Hinz, director of programs at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), guest blogs at Your Wo(Man) in Washington. She notes what we all know about caregivers: it often interferes with the financial planning we know we need to do. “For most women, there is little room for error, and being financially unprepared for the last nearly third of their lives will have consequences. Women need to know what their risks are and make moderating those risks a priority throughout their lives. So while caring for others, take some time to care for yourself — it’s well worth it, and you deserve it!”
- Along the same lines, Women Drivers makes a new case for the Paycheck Fairness Act as what’s needed for the economy. “Maybe this time the act will be correctly cast as a family economic stability act, not an entitlement for women. As though we all need a third shift: fighting for the right to get what we earned in the first shift.” After all, she notes, “Women carried households through the recession.”
- Ever wonder how compelling fabrics and homes are dreamt up? Wouldn’t it be cool to go behind the scenes in a top design studio? WVFC’s own Stacey Bewkes did, got her wish, and shared it at her site Quintessence. Click over for highlights of her visit to Kravet Fabrics, including lush rugs, clean linens and some semi-secret designs you’ll see next at Disney World.
Last week, we called on WVFC contributors to look back on the high (and low) points of 2010. Then we asked them to look ahead to 2011, and what they think is worth our keeping an eye on in the new year.
If you have a prediction of your own, feel free to join in.
I will be looking to see what happens to Lui Xia (right), the wife of Chinese Nobel Prize winner and human rights activist Lui Xiabo. She is currently under house arrest—19 countries, from Afghanistan to Serbia, declined Nobel invitations to Oslo because China is too important to their weapons programs and economies. I also want to see what contributions Burma’s Aung Sun Suu Kyi is allowed to make, now that she finally is no longer under house arrest, alledgedly. I want to follow the astonishing Solar Cookers international, led by Margaret Owino, which is empowering women across Africa and into Central Asia. I am very interested in what Shirin Ebadi (who herself won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003) and Mehrenguiz Kar are able to do for imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, now being held in Evin Prison, in Iran.
Female activists, heads of state, and game-changers are not influential because they are female or over 40. But they often have to be cannier, they are often braver, they are often more holistic in their approach. That is why girls’ education is so fundamental in the developing world. These prominent women can set the tone globally. I think women are ever more powerful in influencing global politics and events at home; I want to see that trend strengthen so that it is not, in and of itself, remarkable.
Though far from perfect, the health care and financial reforms enacted in 2010 are good beginnings. I want to see Democrats—in the White House as well as in Congress—fight for these nascent programs and protect them from being defunded or repealed.
Probably the single most important figure to watch in 2011 is the rate of unemployment. The economy is slumping because there is a shortage of demand, not capacity. Cutting back spending will help scale back the deficit in the short run, but it won’t increase demand. Without spending to help them meet their budget shortfalls, the states will have to fire many teachers, firefighters and police, thereby adding thousands more to the unemployed and stripping them of their buying power. Some of the long-term effects of increasing the numbers of unemployed are diminishing the tax revenues (which by itself increases the deficit) and further depressing the economy.
In terms of Supreme Court cases to watch in 2011, all eyes are on Dukes v. Wal-Mart, in which the Court has agreed to consider whether the women who won a multimillion-dollar antidiscrimination suit could legitimately sue as a class. Dukes is the highest-profile of the “class-action trifecta” to be decided this spring (including this one, which we noted in a recent “Wednesday Five” roundup).
Also expect new efforts on a revised Equal Pay Act, and a spate of full courtrooms discussing the women’s-health provisions of the new healthcare law.
I am keeping an eye on our movement in the medical community in this country to focus on maintenance of health and wellness. Attention is beginning to shift in a major way towards disease prevention. This is an exciting time in American medicine, as we are focusing new energy towards keeping our patients healthy instead of solely focusing on the treatment of their illnesses.
Women’s Heart Health
Although there are many exciting technologies being developed which will advance the treatment of heart disease, I believe our biggest challenge as a society is to live healthier. This disease is largely preventable, but we are losing the battle here.
Despite Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity, the only part of our country where childhood obesity did not increase this year was Washington, D.C. We need to be more active, trim our waistlines, stop smoking, practice stress reduction and get regular check-ups. Make 2011 the year to start taking care of you.
Unfortunately, 2010 was a year in which women lost a lot of ground in Silicon Valley, feeling a disproportionate share of the recession’s job cuts. So in 2011 the thing to watch is how women fare with the jobs and startup investments that will be coming back.
This is a tough one. I think it’s fair to say that our concerns with the form are prevalent over our worries regarding fresh content, and that will continue to be the case in the 12 short months to come. Ebooks, called (by now famously) the book’s “bastard cousin” by Andy Borowitz, will continue to haunt or enrich us. For me, the question comes down to creativity and copyright. The latter may just be a passing phase in modern history, coming to an end in a time of cutting, pasting, borrowing and meshing. As for the former—well, when you mesh and paste images, film clips, and sound bites into an electronic version of Alice in Wonderland or War and Peace, is the consumer’s experience still one of “reading,” or is it a new form of “multimedia intake?” And is that good or bad? (I know that for me personally it’s a bad experience. But I am, happily, old! And a luddite on my best days.)
This year saw the landmark collaboration between Lanvin and “fast fashion” powerhouse H&M. I think we’ll be seeing many more of these types of partnerships in the coming year. It’s already been announced that Emma Watson will be designing a line with Alberta Ferretti and Alice Temperly will be feminizing that British stalwart Barbour. That and the continuing trend of mixing high and low will afford women widening opportunities for creative styling on a more realistic budget. And with lines like Talbots and Ann Taylor upgrading their images to enter the more fashionable arena, I think 2011 will offer great choices for the over-40 woman to easily enhance her fashion profile.
In terms of celebrities, everyone is waiting to hear who will be chosen to design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. That will certainly start a trend of sorts. And the unexpected departure of influential Carine Roitfeld from French Vogue leaves a huge void for someone—most likely fashion director Emmanuelle Alt—to step in and set the tone for European styles.
One upbeat prediction: more museum space and screen time for over-40 women artists, especially in New York. Here are two shows to kick off the 2011 calendar: Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, through January 30 at The Jewish Museum, and Lorna Simpson: Gathered, January 28-August 21 at the Brooklyn Museum. And on March 3 at MoMA, Gloria Steinem will introduce Lynn Hershman Neeson’s documentary on the Feminist Art movement, !Women Art Revolution. Enjoy.
The Wednesday Five: 150 Years of Vassar, Fashion Winter Wonderland, and Sundance Joins Name It-Change It
As much of the country shivers and New Years’ approaches, our blog treats include photo essays of Vassar and winter in Gstaad, a tribute to civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, and a new documentary charging that at this rate, we won’t reach gender parity in government ’till the year 2510. Cheers!
- While snow blankets the Northeast, we’re imagining ourselves somewhere just as snowy but a tad more glamorous, via this Winter Wonderland fantasy from WVFC’s Stacey Bewkes at her Quintessence blog. Even if you’re safely in California or Key West, we bet you’ll still enjoy Stacey’s highlights of winter in Gstaad, including the Swarovski -crystal-laden holiday tree in the town square. Stay for Bewkes’s always-invaluable fashion musings, including skiwear from luxe casual chic Moncler and glitter snow-jewelry like Jean-Francois Fichot’s Queen of the Sea necklace.
- Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Professors tells us that a post office near Washington, D.C.’s Union Station has been named for Dorothy Height, longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women. As Crawford wrote when Height died this past April, “Many people are aware of her work as a quiet but determined worker for the cause of black progress. Far fewer understand that she was also instrumental in helping to forge bonds between black and white women and between people of differing religious beliefs. She championed causes both large and small, and was a counselor to presidents as well as an advocate for the rights of poor children. As the New York Times reports, for much of her early life she was pushed to the background by the male leaders of black civil rights groups and the female leaders of white feminist groups. But she kept working nonetheless.”
- Sally Jane Vintage Fashion has a fun online exhibition: 150 Years of Vassar. “The photos range from the women’s 1901 basketball team in their wool turtlenecks and Gibson girl hairdos through present day,” the author writes, then admits that “my interest in the photos waned around 1969, when the photos turned color (and boys were admitted to the university!).”
- It’s a little too late for Christmas dinner, but we’re still grateful for professor Betty Ming Liu’s guide to “old-school social-networking” as it applies to formal dining rooms. We especially loved her mnemonics and helpful little drawings, so we can not only set a proper table but won’t end up eating dessert with the soup spoon.
- It’s a touch too early to flash to the Sundance Film Festival, but we already have a film to cheer for: Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new documentary, Miss Representation, which tackles the media sexism trends we’ve been tracking for years. We learned the film was chosen for Sundance from our partners in the NameIt.ChangeIt campaign, whose blog explains that “The film, which addresses underrepresentation of women in public office, casts a spotlight on the effects and implications of sexism against women in media. As the film conveys, it will take another 500 years for women to achieve political parity if progress continues at the current rate.” Check the trailer below for BFFs like Jane Fonda, Condoleezza Rice and our own Jennifer Pozner, but stick around as middle-school girls wonder why their peers are so scared that they feel they need pounds of makeup.
As I’ve mentioned, probably more than once, this season is all about the classics. And that means: if ever there was an abundance of great fashion for the over-40 woman, it’s here and now. So many collections feature beautifully tailored, useful pieces that are timeless investments. As Daniela Agnelli, Style Director for the London Telegraph Magazine pronounced: “Fall 2010 is all about a proud and confident woman; the clothes are really wearable and easy to translate from the catwalk into a real life.”
Finally! And how to put a little fun into the mix of classic neutrals? The hot accent this season is leopard.
Now, it’s not as if leopard had ever fallen out of favor. But as Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz declared, it’s time to “take all these animal prints out of the jungle and into the city.”
The leader of the pack, in terms of extravagance, has to be this Balmain chain-embellished calf hair coat, which at over $20,000 is already out of stock. (Maybe it’s true that the luxury market is making a comeback.)
For the rest of us, though, no worries: there are many more financially feasible ways of seeing spots this season. As with camel, one of the most obvious is with outerwear. Many of us may initially fear this option as too bold a statement. But take a look at how effectively these designers have envisioned it.
One of my favorite designers, Phillip Lim, created this leopard print fur coat for his 3.1 line. While still a splurge item, it’s a mere fraction of the Balmain and is an elegant, timeless design that will look as good in two decades as it does today. Leopard may be the hot pattern this season, but it still qualifies as classic. Years from now, you or you daughter will be happy to pull this coat out of the closet again.
|Adrienne Landau’s leopard printed rabbit vest, at a reasonable $350, would look fabulous over a thick turtleneck on a chilly day.|
|For those of us who are non-fur buyers, Kate Spade’s adorable Galleria Lynda Fur Chubbie offers the same look in velvety faux fur. The cropped length and ¾-length sleeves ensure that it will look equally chic over a dress, as shown here, or over straight black slacks for that more casual Audrey-inspired look.|
|But my favorite leopard outerwear piece is this fabulous velvet coat from Talbots. At $209.25, it can’t be beat. Talbots has made a huge push to reinvent itself, and now boasts many truly stylish pieces.|
|If you prefer to wear your spots closer to the skin, dresses are a great option. From high to low price points, there are many choices. This subtly shaded Lanvin example is so elegant and flattering with its hint of ruching. And with the new Lanvin collection for H&M, I’m sure there will be leopard choices at throwaway price points.|
|This Moschino Cheap and Chic option hits the spots in a black and gray palette, for a more monochromatic effect.
|And again from Talbots, at a very reasonable $179, is this chic and simple dress. Very “Mad Men,” don’t you think?|
|I’m confident that all of us own at least one black skirt or pair of pants, which would pair well with either of these tops. The more tailored St. John (below left) would even work beautifully with a black suit; the blousier version by Nanette Lepore (below right) would be lovely with wide-leg velvet or silk pants for an at-home holiday party.|
|And of course, the easiest way to add zip to a wardrobe is always accessories. Lucky for us, leopard abounds in this category. Take a look at the shoe and boot offerings below. As always, there’s a range of styles this season, from the very fashion-forward designs of Christian Louboutin (on the left) and Giuseppe Zanotti (right) . . .|
|. . . to the more elegant choices from, again Louboutin (below left) and Jimmy Choo (below right). Just add either of these to an all black, camel, or gray outfit and voilà! Instant chic. It doesn’t get much easier than that.|
|Here are some similar options that won’t give you sticker shock. The lovely Ann Taylor pump on the left is a great buy at $198. And while the charming Kate Spade Chariot slingback is not quite such a bargain, it’s a relatively mild splurge at $398.|
|And everyone’s favorite flat, the Tory Burch Reva, is available this season in, yes, you guessed it: leopard.|
|I could have written this entire article on leopard bags alone. From Valentino and Gucci . . .|
|. . . to Celine and Prada . . .|
|. . . almost every collection this season offered a leopard bag. And for those of us who don’t want to blow our entire clothing budget on one, I’m happy to report that other lines also have bags in this category as well. Either Coach at $298 (below left) or Talbots at $179 (below right) would be good alternatives.|
And how adorable is this Santi clutch at $133! I’m considering this myself as a holiday clutch to wear with all my dressy black outfits.
|And for those who want to get in on the action in a subtle way, how about a scarf or pair of gloves? This Adrienne Landau fur option would be very cozy at $200.|
So whether you want to make a major statement or give a passing nod, there are great options at every price point for a walk on the wild size this fashion season.
(To see even more photos of fashion- in-leopard, check out the photo album on WVFC’s Facebook page.)