What I Didn’t Buy: Fun Prints and Faux Leather

IMG_4274.JPGAbstract Watercolor Floral Dress ($23)

Welcome back to What I Didn’t Buy, where I chronicle my dressing room adventures so you can see how things fit in a non pinned-and-styled way. I love that my last post inspired blogger chelseaisworkingonit t0 grab this dress in oxblood, which she is rocking.  This trip, I picked up some fun prints and fall-ready faux leather pieces to try out.  [Read more...]

OOTD: What I Wore to the Natori NYFW Afterparty

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Outfit snapped by the Natori photographer

Before the full craziness of NYFW kicked in, I spent a night hopping around designer events and presentations.  I started off at the Josie Natori afterparty.  I was unable to attend the show, but followed along on Instagram and delighted both in the stark whites and solids with great structure, and the use of bold prints – something Natori consistently excels at.  I particularly loved the final walk, which featured a run of new looks: All bright, flowy pants paired with a variety of crisp white tops. [Read more...]

Chromat at NYFW and Interview with Designer Becca McCharen

Chromat Post Show

Chromat Models with Designer Becca McCharen

I am a big fan of striking, double-take-inducing fashion, so I have been a Chromat adherent since I discovered the label in 2012. When it came time to start thinking about New York Fashion Week this year, the first brand I reached out to was Chromat, and was thrilled to receive an invite to their show at MADE Fashion Week (aka the downtown version that more and more young, creative brands are flocking to). I was pumped about the show long before I had any idea that there might be plus models involved.

Then, by the giant virtual grapevine that is social media, I heard rumblings that there would be body diversity in the show, and the anticipation grew. On the day of the show, when the music started and the first model stepped on the runway, I could not contain an excited “Yesssss!” Chromat designer Becca McCharen didn’t just include a plus size model, she opened the show with one – the striking industry veteran Denise Bidot (she’s been modeling for seven years now). The look was just as stunning as the model, with the caged hips an exaggeration of the female form.

Chromat Denise Bidot

Denise Bidot’s show opening look. Picture via Chromat’s Facebook page.

The show continued with provocative cutouts and structures; architectural details worthy of a Guggenheim museum; and a solid monochrome palette with occasional pops of red or orange. The designs also incorporated 3D printing in various ways, from face masks to caged bustier cups to pockets adorning a sheath dress. This was the first time Chromat has utilized this technology, which blended seamlessly with the boned corsetry structures that are their mainstay.

Chromat 3D Printing

Three of the 3D Printed Looks from the Formula 15 SS15 Collection. Pictures via 3DPrint.com

Two other plus models, Kailee O’Sullivan and Katy Syme, also walked in the show, and the diversity did not end with the inclusion of curvier models: A variety of races, gender presentations and body types were represented by models on the runway. This is sadly all too rare during Fashion Week, which made the diverse Chromat casting even more remarkable. I especially appreciated that the designs were not toned down or covered up for models above sample size – the same type of edgy, visually arresting pieces were shown on all body types. As I said on Instagram during my post-show high, “Basically, everyone looks good in Chromat.” I think that speaks volumes of the talent of the designer.

Chromat Final Walk

One of my Instagram shots of the final walk

A week after the show, I had a chance to chat with Becca McCharen about her inspiration for the collection, and the decision to include diverse models on the the runway. I left the conversation even more excited about the future of Chromat.

The creative process for the Spring/Summer 2015 Formula 15 collection was sparked by a trip to DIA:Beacon’s Sol LeWitt exhibit, where the idea of art as a sort of anarchy – open ended, and not wholly owned by any one person – led to the concept of the body as process art. Whereas last season’s Bionic Bodies collection experimented with the incorporation of technology, for Formula 15, McCharen wanted to move beyond the purely aesthetic “blinky” LED lights, and integrate tech with function. The addition of the MisFit Shine device to the Chromat designs highlighted how tech is interacting with bodies – in a way, making the body into a machine, capturing the data it generates. Visually, the additions were seamless – it wasn’t until perusing the detail shots post-runway that I noticed the devices as such. McCharen hinted that future collections will take this theme of technology’s impact further, going as far as to reframe the human body. I am intrigued, to say the least.

Chromat Collage

Some of my favorite looks from the Formula 15 collection

One thing has remained consistent throughout collections: Chromat has always been about armor. McCharen explained how customers consistently express how “strong and powerful” they feel in the bold pieces. That empowerment is purposeful, and part of McCharen’s goal. The inclusion of a variety of body types in the show and collection stemmed from that goal, and was very natural for McCharen. She noted that in her day to day life, there are women of all sizes, gender expressions and races, and it just makes sense to reflect that on the runway. Of runways that present only one race and body type (white and skinny), she said: “Its just not modern.”

Chromat Kailee OSullivan

Muse Model Kailee O’Sullivan in the sculptural Half Circe skirt. Picture via Chromat’s Facebook page.

McCharen’s message of women’s empowerment through fashion and inclusion really resonated with me. Hearing her discuss the show’s diversity as something organic – not forced or tokenizing – was refreshing. Indeed, “fashion for all” has been reflected in the Chromat philosophy from the start: McCharen has always offered custom sizes for customers outside of the straight size range (she said she’s made bustiers and bras up to a G cup). By having both straight and plus models in this season’s NYFW show, McCharen hopes to spread the word on the Chromat Curve line, which will offer the same innovative styles for a wider size range. This will include having a full range of sizes available to try on at the Chromat studios and in stores (and since I can never understate the importance of trying things on, I am beyond thrilled about this development). Chromat shot a full Curve lookbook with Denise Bidot, which should be out within the next two weeks.  You can also shop all the looks from the SS15 runway right now on the Chromat website.

For more of my Chromat NYFW coverage, check out the Gwynnie Bee blog for an interview with model Kailee O’Sullivan!

OOTD: The Expected End of Summer

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As August was winding down and NYFW quickly approaching, I welcomed temperatures cool enough to let me wear a jacket. All my fashion week outfit ideas involved some form of layering, after all. Alas, the actual weather for NYFW has been stifling up until today, but at least I got to wear this outfit during the cool end of summer official.

Pairing a crop top and a high waisted skirt is a great way to ease yourself into crop tops if you are unsure about showing skin, and adding a jacket can take the look right into fall.  This neon + pastel palette was purposefully summery, but an oxblood crop top and a leather midi skirt would feel decidedly autumnal, especially under a wool camel blazer.

As for my outfit details:

Denim biker jacket: Gap (similar here; plus option here)

Split strap crop top: ASOS

Raw edge neon pleated skirt: Anthropologie (old, similar here in plus)

Coral and fringe necklace: Forever 21

Crossbody satchel: 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target (no longer available, similar here and here)

Suede sliver wedges: Matt Bernson (also available in a perfect fall shade here)

Shoe Crush: Miista Cutout Ankle Boots

Miista Purple Ankle Boots

 I am a huge fan of the edgy British footwear label Miista – their shoes always give me great downtown street style vibes.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of their Fall 2014 collection, and pieces have started showing up at different retailers around the web.  I found this pair at Shoescribe this morning, and my response was an instant “YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!”  Between the perfect reddish purple hue, the luxe textured leather, the walkable heel height and the cutout just where I’d put it, I am crushing on these hard.  They would look great with a pair of boyfriend jeans and a statement blazer; or to thoughen up a floaty summer dress worn with a lightweight bomber jacket.  When the temps really drop, black tights and a cozy sweater dress will warm you up.

The full fall collection is not yet out, but there are some other great styles up now at Shoescribe too, like these deep blue booties, perfect for anyone who prefers their cutouts in the front: Miista Blue

 

Or this pair of olive mules with a wood accent in the heel – perfect for taking on the 90′s trend full tilt:

Miista Mules

 

Check out all the new styles here, and watch out for more to be released in the next few weeks!

OOTD: Workwear Comfort

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Now that I work for a creative company, a lot of my more conservative work clothing has fallen by the wayside.  I still love a good LBD on occasion, though, especially if it is comfortable.  This swing dress from Three Dots is made out of the softest jersey, but still looked office ready (pardon the wrinkles in this shot – it was taken the morning after I’d worn it).  I loved the subtle open crochet detail in the yoke – just enough to set it apart, without looking crafty.  This dress could work for a more corporate dress code with a sharp colored blazer and classic black pumps.  With flats and a statement necklace, it was perfect for a busy day with lots of errands on the schedule.

Crochet yoke swing dress: Three Dots (via Gwynnie Bee; another great Three Dots dress here)

Leopard flats: H&M (similar)

Plastic chain necklace: Urban Outfitters (old; similar; luxe Oscar de la Renta version here)

Fall Trend Report: Black Skinny Jeans

Everyone knows the importance of a good pair of jeans, and the skinny jean is a favorite of mine: The sleek silhouette is both hot and versatile, and it is a great base for playing with proportions. This season, a different wash is vying for the top spot.  Whether polished or distressed, black skinny jeans are a key staple for fall 2014. I love how one item can go from polished workwear to chic casual to effortlessly sporty.  Even Leandra Medine of Manrepeller approves.

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Fashion to Figure Black Stretch Skinnies, $35 Of all the pairs I’m featuring, these might be my favorite.  I just got my pair in the mail, and damn!  These are some seriously sexy jeans.  I am already planning so many outfits for these (which you will see soon!).  Order true to size – they look a bit small out of the box, but the fit is spot on.  I love that these look just as good dressed up with heels as they do with sneakers, like on Chante from Everything Curvy and Chic in the FTF lookbook picture above.  BONUS: Everything at Fashion to Figure is Buy One, Get One for 50% off with code BOGO50 until September 1st!

ASOS Black Wash Ripped Knee

ASOS Ridley Skinny Jean in Washed Black, $61 If you want your black jeans to look a bit tougher, these perfectly faded and ripped skinnies from ASOS Curve are just the thing.  This fit also comes highly recommended by one of my style faves, Franceta Johnson.  These are next on my denim shopping list.

Deb High Waist

Deb High Waist Jeans, $27 The triple button fly gives high waisted jeans a retro flair – play it up with a polka dot chambray top knotted at the waist for a fun end of summer look.

Alloy Super StretchAlloy Super Stretch Jeggings, $35 If you are looking for junior plus sizing in a variety of lengths (everything from 30″ to 37″ inseam), these clean jeggings from Alloy are for you.

Forever 21 Classic SkinnyForever 21 Classic Skinny Short, $15 The shorter length on these is perfect for tucking in to a pair of moto boots, and at $15, the price is certainly right.  Two things to keep in mind with Forever 21 denim though: 1) Size up if you are between sizes; and 2) It likely will not last.  I’ve come to accept the latter, and that way I am just pleasantly surprised when a pair is still kicking after a year.

James Jeans Twiggy ZJames Jeans Twiggy Z Cigarette Jean, $172 If the thought of cheap jeans make you shudder, this pair from premium denim label James Jeans are just what you’re looking for.  The luxe material means you could even take these into a corporate office with a sharp blazer on Casual Friday.  Bonus: You can get $25 off your first order at HeyGorgeous.com!

Eileen Fisher Organic CottonEileen Fisher Organic Stretch Soft Skinny Jeans, $198 If your beef with disposable denim is more about sustainability, consider investing in a pair of organic jeans, which are also known for sustaining their shape wear after wear.  Because these will last for years to come, the price per wear will be quite reasonable.

NYDJ Jade JeggingNYDJ Jade Legging in Black, $130 NYDJ is also all about fit, with [very effective] shapewear built right into the jean.  I have this pair in a classic washed blue denim color, and can attest to a fantastic, high waisted fit.  The shapewear aspect is a bit odd to me, but I’ll admit that sometimes it comes in handy.  I’d recommend ordering this pair true to size.  If you are unsure about whether NYDJ is for you, I suggest trying out the brand through Gwynnie Bee.

Violeta Mango Zippered Black DenimVioleta by Mango Super Slim Fit Cadenit Jeans, $90 Mango’s new-to-the-US inbetweenie label Violeta has a perfectly downtown pair – I am all about the asymmetrical zippers.

Torrid Stiletto Ankle ZipTorrid Stiletto Skinny Jean, $59 The perennial favorite Torrid “Stiletto” skinny is even sleeker in black.

Old Navy Rockstar

Old Navy Rockstar Jean, $35 So much of jeans shopping is about finding the perfect fit, and sometimes you just want to go with what you know.  The ever popular “Rockstar” fit from Old Navy doesn’t work on my body type, but I have friends who are strict adherents to the style.  The clean black wash updates this basic.

Lane Bryant Genius FitLane Bryant Genius Fit Black Skinny Jeans, $70 These are great for the jet black color, the high tech fabric that prevents lost shape from stretching, and the fact that they come in short, regular, and tall sizes up to 28.

SWAK Skinny JeansSWAK Black Skinny Jeans, $30 Independent plus label’s SWAK’s foray into denim includes this classic black skinny, generously sized and cut for curves.

HM SkinnyH&M Plus Black Skinny Jean, $30 I have a lot of gripes about H&M’s plus size section, but one thing they are doing very right is pants.  I have three pairs that I love from them, including my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans.  Size up one with their denim.

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Bonus pair: Though these are not technically skinny jeans, the new black denim joggers from Aussie label 17 Sundays are just great, as is blogger Ashley Rose’s styling.  These are like the baby of my two favorite pants trends: Black skinny jeans and joggers.  What could be better?

OOTD: Concert in the Park

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For the last Celebrate Brooklyn concert of the summer (one of my faves, St. Vincent), I wanted to wear something cool – both literally and figuratively. I cannot get enough of this cat crop top, but I’ve only worn it with a sliver of skin exposed before. I decided to go full on “festival fashion” for this look, with a bare stomach and short shorts. I was still decidedly more covered up than many of my fellow attendees, but it was the perfect outfit for a warm summer night of great music – monochrome pattern mixing might be a new favorite.

Cat crop top: H&M (similar; multicat crop here)
Blue cutoff shorts: Jessica Simpson (via Marshall’s)
Checked kimono cardi: H&M (similar)
White leopard slip on sneakers: Charlotte Russe (only $7! If you prefer designer, check out this luxe Saint Laurent version)
Handbag: Kate Spade

Lookbook Love: Liesl Binx A/W 2014

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I’ve been a fan of independent designer Liesl Binx for a while now (she was one of my first Five Faves interviewees), but I am in LOVE with her new A/W 2014 lookbook.  I can’t get enough of the slightly gritty setting; the creative combination of sheer, crisp white with more traditional autumnal tones; and how she plays with volume and textures.  I never knew I needed a sheer white shirt for fall before, but now it feels like a must have.  Now I just have to decide whether I want a crop, a tunic, or a dress – decisions, decisions!  Keep reading for the full lookbook and a coupon code.   [Read more...]

OOTD: Tee with a Twist

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Though Sarah of a few years ago would be very surprised to hear it, I am loving the jogger trend. They are a fun substitute for denim in the classic jeans + tee shirt combination.  Much like a good pair of jeans, they can be dressed up or down, but the silhouette is fresher, and a bit unexpected (which is apparently my word of the week).

If you are skeptical about the style, just try a few pairs on to find the right fit, and then wear them as you’d wear your favorite pair of jeans.  You might be pleasantly surprised too.

Snakeprint tee: Mynt 1792

Woven jogger pants: Igigi (also worn here)

Ankle strap flats: BCBGeneration (similar)

Handbag: Botkier (similar)