Dec 21

Best of 2011

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Well, can we say holiday slump? I have so many things to post about, but holiday laziness has taken over. So I’m going to dedicate this post to the best of 2011, a la IFB’s project #26. Here are my favorite 3QC posts from 2011. I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting them as I did. Here’s to the year gone by, and may the next one be even better!

 

1. Mulled Evenings

2. Bottoms Up!

3. STARS of California

4. Scholarly (Pur)suit

5. Trinity de Cartier

6. Summer Grey

7. Mangoes and Jamuns

8. Paisley Pulchritude

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Dec 13

Interview Accessories

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I’m back from my hiatus and ready to jump start things around here. I received a question about accessorizing for a job interview from a loyal reader and dear friend. So, here goes.

Dressing for an interview depends so much on the general line of work and the specific job responsibilities that the dress code varies wildly and what clothes you wear becomes all about judgment. But accessorizing is easier to tackle.

First, choose one or two pieces that make a statement. You are selling yourself as a brand at a job interview, which means that the whole package must send a consistent message. So, whatever your personal brand, choose statement pieces that clearly communicate it.

It could be a stunning animal print belt like this one from Mango (click image to view details) to pull together a black power suit:

Or a gorgeous cocktail ring like this Kevia piece to complement a professional sheath dress:

Or even a pair of earrings that add personality while looking sophisticated. Nothing dangling though – you want the interviewers to look at your face, not the movement of your jewelry. Try this pair from Topshop:

Once you choose your one or two statement pieces, keep the rest subtle and neutral.

Whatever your statement pieces, be prepared to talk about them or accept compliments. In fact, they could be great conversation starters. Back when I worked in technology, I would wear my Tau Beta Pi bent on a simple gold chain around my neck when I interviewed. If the interviewer knew his/her industry well enough, the piece would become an instant ice breaker. If not, then it would remain an inside joke for me to enjoy while still looking professional. If you are an architect who is profoundly influenced by Frank Gehry and you happen to have a Frank Gehry watch, wear it and be prepared to discuss his work. But if you do choose something related to your profession, make sure the pieces are tasteful and not costume-y, and that they actually have personal meaning to you.

Then there’s the bag. This is my personal pet peeve. When I was on the hiring side, I found it extremely unprofessional to watch candidates fumble around their seat at the end of the interview, trying to cram their belongings in one hand so they could respond to my handshake. Pick a bag that’s large enough to fit everything you will carry except your résumé folder (or portfolio). And I mean everything. That includes your keys, cell phone, wallet, makeup, business card holder and any parking pass you may be handed when you get there. If it’s raining, the bag needs to fit your umbrella. Expect that you will be offered a bottle of water during the meetings. The bag needs to hold that as well. And it needs to do this without looking frumpy. So, yes, put effort into choosing your bag.

Finally, the shoes. Like clothes, interview shoes are a matter of judgment. The only advice I have is to keep the heels between low and medium. You never know what kind of office setup you will encounter, and you may end up having to climb up and down stairs several times as you are directed from one conference room to the next. The last thing you want is to slow down your interviewer as you teeter around on your 5-inch heels.

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Nov 29

Latest Finds

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I have never had a successful Black Friday trip, mostly because I’m just not a morning person. I get cranky when I have to wake up early – no price discount can make up for the loss of sleep. I have learned from past experience not to bother with the early morning shopping, exciting as the deals may seem. This Black Friday, we had a leisurely brunch and strolled into the mall around 2 pm. The deals were gone and so were the crowds. That’s when I found this black sequin jacket at Forever 21.

What I love about it is the way it can instantly amp up any regular outfit into a festive, evening affair. This is going to come in handy during the holiday season.

Animal prints are au courant right now, and that goes not only for the traditional patterns borrowed from the wild, but also for literal prints of animal forms, such as these graceful horses. The print transforms the simple button down shirt into casual chic.

I’m looking forward to wearing both pieces. Stay tuned for the outfit posts!

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Nov 25

Fall Colors

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Forever 21 top and necklace, Helmut Lang jeans, ROMWE jacket, Munro American boots

We went back and forth several times on what to do for turkey day this year after our original plans involving a homemade feast and other weekend activities were unceremoniously aborted. In the interest of keeping this blog drama-free, I won’t go into the details. Suffice it to say, we were still contemplating our options as of Tuesday.

We finally settled on an intimate Thanksgiving dinner at home with catered food. I was apprehensive when I saw the fixings in little plastic containers, but they turned out delicious once we heated them up and served them on proper plates accompanied by dry martinis and Hugh Laurie’s Let Them Talk.

The rest of the day was spent in a food coma, watching sitcom reruns and movies. It was a perfect holiday after all.

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Nov 22

A Tale of Two Coats

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In case you were wondering, I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet. After the madness of the last few weeks, I have just been enjoying a bit of downtime. But the blog beckons, and here I am.

Going through my closet looking for post ideas, I couldn’t help but stare at the obvious: these two coats, which I haven’t worn in over two years (at least). Yet, I’ve been reluctant to get rid of them.

The first is a knee-length denim number I picked up from Macy’s a few years ago. When I saw it on the rack, I thought it had tremendous potential. I still do – and not just because the Duchess of Cambridge has been sporting similar coats all over the place. But for some reason, I have used it only a handful of times. So, the question is, to keep or not to keep?

Then we come to this beauty I snagged from Bebe in Chicago when I lived in the Midwest years ago. It kept me very warm on some very cold winter days in the middle of nowhere. But now in the relatively warm LA, I have nowhere to wear it. One option would be to see whether a tailor can convert it into a vest that ends right below the pockets. I can see the style factor, but at the moment this coat is sitting in my closet purely for nostalgic value. So once again, the question becomes, to keep or not to keep?

Neither Dickens nor the old bard can help me with this profound philosophical dilemma, so I turn to you, my readers. Any thoughts?

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Nov 15

Hit or Miss: Velvet

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Velvet Dream

 

Satin and velvet have always been my favorite fabrics. I tend to be a tactile person when I shop and I find the soft, rich touch of those materials quite pleasing. So when I went shopping after a monthlong hiatus last weekend, I was thrilled to see velvet making a slow but steady comeback. From jackets to dresses to skirts, this luxe revival has a fresh feel. Given the timing, it’s probably going to be a velvet holiday season this year.

What do you think of velvet clothing? Would you wear it? Needless to say, I’m with George Costanza on this one!

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Nov 9

Layer Love

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Papaya tank top, Forever 21 tank top and jacket, Express sweater, James Jeans jeans, Munro American boots

Having grown up in tropical climate (without the Internet or “foreign” TV to impart sartorial wisdom), I found it extremely challenging to dress for American winters when I first landed in Upstate New York over a decade ago. The words “winter fashion” were an oxymoron to me, boots didn’t seem to be made for my extra skinny legs, and puffy, astronaut-looking jackets that concealed all clothing underneath became my staple.

I still place comfort over fashion and would don a puffy jacket in a heartbeat if I had to face a whiteout on foot. But Southern California presents no such possibility; in the coolest months, Los Angeles weather feels like autumn. I have now grasped the concept of creating visual interest through layers while staying warm, and this city gives me the perfect opportunity to work that skill.

I especially enjoyed this outfit because not only did it combine many fabric weights and textures, I also managed to mix some prints for added interest. Winter light with its long shadows makes everything look extra pretty in photos, and I particularly like how this ensemble photographed.

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Nov 7

Mulled Evenings

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After a weekend of reading and writing followed by more reading and more writing, I was ready to curl up with some comfort food and good old entertainment therapy. Spicy Indian food from the local takeout place accompanied by warm mulled wine and a Merchant Ivory movie hit the spot perfectly.

Mulled wine is so easy to make and so satisfying to drink that I sometimes look forward to winter just so I can have a glass.

The recipes vary wildly, but I usually keep it simple. Start with a bottle of red wine – even something cheap will do. I used Geyser Peak’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon this time, but I’ve used even cheaper bottles with pretty much the same result. Mix in some brandy, brown sugar, spices and a sliced orange. The proportions are a matter of preference. I like a cup of brandy and half cup of brown sugar to a bottle of wine, along with cinnamon and cloves. Simmer everything in a pot on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Toss in the orange slices any time you like, depending on how much citrus taste you want.

That’s it! Delicious mulled wine is ready to warm you up.

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Nov 3

Sweater Dresses

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I have blogged about my Victoria’s Secret sweater dress more than once (here and here). When I bought that dress, I debated between the print and a solid color for days. Ultimately I decided in favor of the print because I find that winter knits are available almost exclusively in solid colors. It’s tough to find a sweater, let alone a sweater dress, in a chic print. But thanks to this season’s explosion of patterns and color, that has all changed. And while I can never get enough of Victoria’s Secret’s sweater dresses, here are some other great options from around the Web. Whether you like a bit of adventure like me or prefer to stay on solid ground (pun very much intended), you’re sure to find your pick here.

1. REDOPIN Color-Block Nubby Knit Sweater Dress

2. kate spade new york Bardot Sweater Dress

3. Loft Boiled Wool Shift Dress

4. ASOS Bow Collar Knitted Dress

5. ASOS Knitted Dress in Aztec Pattern

6. Victoria’s Secret Buckle-Wrap Sweaterdress

7. Topshop Knitted Sequin Zig Zag Dress

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Oct 31

Wake Me Up When November Ends

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Gap top, Helmut Lang jeans, Nine West shoes

In college, every semester had that one week when all the exams, projects and papers came all at once. We called it hell week. Turns out, this November is hell month for my classes. Between all the big assignments and the lack of sleep thanks to noisy neighbors, things have been stressful lately, and probably won’t ease up until Thanksgiving. But we managed to book a short vacation for December, so at least there is something to look forward to.

This outfit reflects my current state of mind – frazzled, overwhelmed and unable to think. I resorted to basics and went with my favorite accessories to add some interest. It’s my sartorial equivalent of comfort food.

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