God Save the Queen – And her wonderful hats

Diana and Kate. Grace and Margaret. Even the infamous Wallis Simpson are undisputed Royal fashion icons.  But Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t, as far as we’re concerned, get the credit she deserves. Maybe it’s because as the monarch of 16 nations and head of state 54 more, she seems too serious a figure to reduce to a mere celebrity.

To fawn over her fashion doesn’t seem befitting someone of her stature. As modern feminist type women, we certainly agree Her Majesty is one important, inspirational, powerful woman. She is also a lady of pretty great style. She catches some heat for her tendancy to ‘matchy match.’ And of course her current style is a little more mature than most of us would want. But please keep in mind, homegirl is 86. Back in the day she was right on point. She’s doing senior fashion now, and I think she’s doing it right. Colourful and modest. She always looks like she’s in charge. And there is always always a hint of sparkle, bling, brocade, or jewels (truly, her jewels are fabulous). A lady after our own hearts.

In honour of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebration that has been happening over the last few days, this is our own celebration of one of our icons. Oh, and because it’s fun…Hats!

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Putting on the Ritz: Black-Tie, White-Tie and Casual wedding attire

I received word that a wedding invitation is currently on its merry way to my mailbox. Its arrival ushers in the 2012 season of weddings! The season that was once typically June to September now seems to have stretched itself from May to October (at least based on my own experience as a bridesmaid and wedding guest).

We have had a few questions related to wedding guest attire (What do I wear to a casual lakeside ceremony? Can I wear black? Can I wear white? How do I keep warm in the evening? Are sparkles appropriate?) so we think this week is the perfect time to answer some of those questions! Spring and summer collections are hitting stores this month, so it is the perfect time to go out shopping.

The first thing we will deal with is required dress codes. Martha Stewart, with from help from Emily Post, breaks it down like this:

Informal (casual)

Separates like dress pants, dress shirt, and tie (sport coat optional) is fine for men. Sundresses are appropriate for ladies, but not in dressier fabrics or with elaborate embellishment.

Semi-Formal (Black-Tie)

Dark suits (or tuxedos if the invitation states Black Tie) for the menfolk, fancy cocktail dresses for the ladies.

Formal (White-Tie)

This is the fanciest of the fancy. We’re talking Mr. Monopoly or Mr. Peanut levels of fancy. We are talking tailcoat, white shirt, white vest and tie, white or gray gloves, and black opera pumps. Do you know what black opera pumps are? Shoes without laces. I know. That is why you and I don’t get invited to White Tie events, baby!
Oh yeah, and the ladies must wear floor length evening gowns.

And what if there is no stated dress code on the invitation (as has been my experience)? Martha Stewart Weddings says that a dark suit with shirt and tie is appropriate for men. For ladies, suitable attire is a cocktail dress or dressy separates. I agree with Martha – if there are no stated dress codes, you can’t go wrong with these guidelines.

Here’s a cute example of something me and my guy might wear to a summer wedding with no defined dress code…

Wedding Guest Attire

Grandpa Knew From Comfort and Style.

Since as we all know Steph is a huge jerk away this week basking in the glory that is the Cuban sun and surf, I have been made even more painfully aware of my own non-vacationing existence here in gloomsville (it is truly gloomy; we are not having any of those gloriously crisp bright fall afternoons up in this bitch. It’s all grey, all the time here).

But, seeing as I am trying (trying so hard, you guys!) to be a more positive, sunny side up, glass half full kind of gal (frankly, I’m annoyed with me already) I am looking on the bright side of my weather predicament.  I mean, it’s not raining, and I’m – fingers crossed – at least a month away from having to dig my car out of my garage every morning. I’ve not experienced any weather patterns that the Weather Network our my  insurance company would refer to as ‘An Act of God’, so that’s positive, right? Plus, gloomy-chilly sad-sack days like these make me want to wrap up in what I lovingly refer to as ‘Papa Cardigans’.

Background: I had a cool as shit Scottish immigrant grandfather – aka Papa. He literally never ate, not in all his 85 years, anything other than porridge for breakfast and you could set your watch by his 9pm tea. He was a Hollywood handsome WWII airman, a closeted artist, a voracious reader and walked everywhere he went. The aspect of his personality that rubbed off on me the most was likely his sarcastic sense of humour and his complete inability to tolerate bullshit. You’re welcome. Or thank you, I guess.

Anyway, the point is, my memories of him are many and wonderful, but one that really stays with me are visions of him in his sweaters. You know the kind. Earth toned and wide knit or waffled, buttons, rather shapeless.   They remind me of bologna sandwiches and trips to the park. They remind me of his marigolds in the garden and reading hard cover books from the library on the front porch all summer. Well, guess what? That look is totally in style now, and it’s socially acceptable for me to wear my oversized shapeless cardigans outside the home. Don’t be fooled, I 100% did this before it was trending.

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That’s right ya’ll, Justin Bieber is wearing them! Super-duper high level teenaged girl trend alert!

You, as a grown adult woman or man can definately wear them though. They’re called grandpa sweaters for a reason, no? Below, some inspirations:

Grandpa

Pair a grandpa cardigan with a dress and some ankle boots for a perfectly chic and comfortably warm date night outfit. Throw one on with your favourite jeans, riding boots and a great scarf and you’re ready for a day full of errands. You can even take the look to the office, wearing it with a pencil shirt and feminine sheer blouse. Just make sure to keep the rest of your look tailored to avoid looking sloppy.

Kate Middleton Didn’t Invent That – Lace Edition

Since the Royal wedding and the Canadian Tour a lot has been said of Kate’s love for lace and her trend setting ways. Of course everything the Duchess wears is an instant hit, flying off shelves and becoming almost instantly iconic. Her blue Erdem dress is now one of my favourite dresses of all time. This trend is something I embrace wholeheartedly. But, as we like to point out, all in good fun of course, this was a trend before Kate tossed it into the sartorial stratosphere. Lace was a trend in TeenVogue for autumn/winter 2010-2011. Glamour Magazine profiled it a full three weeks before Miss. Middleton stepped into Westminster Abbey.

Sure, you can’t wear lace everyday. I mean, you could wear it everyday, but it would get weird. People would talk, you’d become the weird lace lady. You’d be branded with some kind of doily themed nickname.

Lace is a unique and recognizable fabric which immediately conjures a lot of divergent images. Depending on how and where you wear it, you can really make a statement, conveying any number of ideas about yourself and your style. Red lace is sexy, white lace is innocent. Lace on a blouse or dress is feminine and demure, while lace in an unexpected place like a shoe or accessory is modern and fun. It can makes us think of mature women with high collars and young girls with lace trimmed socks.

Here’s a peek at some of my favourite ways to work this trend from all its angels.

lacy

The key to making lace work in the real world is to not over do it. This should go without saying, but one lace item is all you need.

As I said, a bold coloured lace is just that, bold and sexy even when it comes in the form of full coverage blouse. Lace in white and neutral tones is traditional and conjures ideas of purity, and modesty. I love lace in these unexpected places like jewelery and shoes; It is at once classic and modern. Lace can take you from caual weekends, to work and glamorous nights. Hopefully just not all at once.

Pan Am Polka Dots

If you watched Pan Am on Sunday night, you probably noticed that the skirts are getting tighter and tighter with each episode. You probably also noticed the gorgeous Goran Visnjic i.e. Dr. Luka Kovac, as we all knew and loved him on ER. We totally noticed him! We (I) miss ER. Goran should have been cast as a pilot, not the love interest in what is, right now, clearly a doomed affair. We (I) demand More Goran!

More Goran! More Goran!

Anywaaaaay – the full skirts of the first episodes seem to have given way to very body-conscious sheath dresses and pencil skirts. There was one outfit in particular that Irene and I were both drooling over – that tight white sheath dress with black polka dots that the blonde sister was wearing.

(I can’t find a picture so just imagine tight, white, sleeveless, pencil skirt, black polka dots)

It was such a sharp look that I was totally inspired to create my own interpretation:

Pan Am 2

Pretty droolworthy, right? Very faithful to the original look on the blonde sister. I did leave off the hat though because you will look like you are in costume if you wear a hat (which is actually fine for this time of year. And do add some gloves and a little pillbox purse while you are at it!)

But! While I love this look I personally can’t rock that kind of body-conscious sheath, and I’m definitely not alone. Here is a dress (just as cute!) that will serve all of us non sheath dress wearers just as well:

Pan Am 3

One last thing – now that Pan Am seems to be flashing through sixties fashions, I can’t wait until we get to the Mod era! Bring on the Mary Quant miniskirts, Twiggy eyelashes, nude lips and go-go boots! Shagadelic baby, yeah!

Trends Your Grandmother Could Get Behind – My Outfit Today

I had a whole post worked out in my head for today, and it was going to be amazing. Probably the best thing that has graced the pages of this blog. You would have laughed, been moved, learned something. However, I’m super self-centred and instead I decided to dedicate today to my own outfit. Because that’s how special I think it is. No, I won’t tell you what today’s original post was about. What am I an idiot? I’m not about to waste a great idea by mentioning it now. You’ll get to see it someday. Be cool.

Ok, so the real point is today I am wearing an outfit that in theory might be a little matronly. It involves trousers, a cardigan and sensible shoes. It could also come off a little juvenile seeing as it also involves ruffles and plaid.

Terrified yet? Don’t be. It turns out all these elements combined to make me feel a little like Emma Pillsbury from Glee – whimsical and young yet functional. And a little like Tammy One from Parks and Recreation – grown up, in charge, a secret buttoned up sex kitten(btw if you don’t watch Parks and Rec we’re not friends for 5 minutes. Amy Poehler is a goddess. Ron Swanson is, well, Ron Swanson! Start watching. Right now. Go).

For reference here is a rendition of what I wore:

My Outfit Today

It’s cute right?!

The colour combos I’m rocking are a little different. My top is a green plaid and my cardi is red, but the effect is the same.

Tell us in the comments or twitter about an outfit you love that in theory seems wrong but in practice is oh so right.

I Wish I Could Get Drunk at the Office

Image courtesy of California Literary Review

I almost can’t even pull myself together enough to explain how hard I love Mad Men. This show is all kinds of everthing I love. It’s like what would happen if my adoration of fashion and pop culture had a baby with my love of history and nostalgia.

The way they’ve turned Sterling Cooper Draper Price into a microchasm of American culture at the time is just brilliant. The clothes, the sets, the unrelenting sence that everyone and everything is so cool, the simmering tension of the 1960’s. The clothes!

There is also Don Draper. People, have you seen Don Draper? I mean, have you? His amount of hotness and distant charm, mixed with that hint of being dangerous or unstable is out of control. He just does what he wants, whenever he feels like it. He’s so smooth and full of great ideas. He practically made me want one of those Maiden Form pointy bras, you guys. There are few fictional characters I find as intriguing, or as totally sexy. Sometimes, I think I’m actually in love with him when I watch the show – that’s probably not healthy right?

Anyway, the point is that this is a great show that we love. It’s also the perfect show for the format of our blog, seeing as the fashions are so awesome as to almost be another character.

So, let’s get ourselves a drink at 11am and light a smoke in the office, while we take a look, shall we?

Mad Men Madness

So, who else didn’t know about the Mad Men collection at Banana Republic? I had NO IDEA. When I walked by BR today I felt like one of those cartoons with my eyes popping out.

After perusing the collection I have decided that I LOVE EVERYTHING. Ahem…but I really do mean that. I love it ALL. I especially love the ladylike dresses with sleeves. SLEEVES. You can’t see me but I’m actually doing a fist pump right now. I am attending two Catholic weddings this fall and guess what I’m wearing? That’s right, a gorgeous dress with sleeves! Thank YOU, Banana Republic!

Here are my must-haves from the collection:

BR Mad Men Things I Love

Keep your eyes peeled OUR takes on Betty, Joan, and Don’s style, coming this week. And let us know what your favorite pieces of the BR collection are!

Trends Your Grandmother Could Get Behind

I just saw a girl, who couldn’t have been a day over 25, and she was wearing sheer panty hose- or nylons, or tights – whatever you call them where you’re from, I’m sure you know what I mean. I personally have always kind of enjoyed panty hose. When I was a little girl I actually got super excited at any opportunity to sport my opaque white tights. I had this super awesome navy and white sailor dress, with a very official-type embroidered crest and a collar. With this dress I would wear not just regular tights, but white tights that were woolen and had a ribbed pattern. I felt this was a more oppropriately commanding look to go with my dress – seeing as the dress clearly signified me as some sort of naval commander. I still love the look of a dark black nylon with a skirt or dress. It seems sexy in a very non-intimidating way – and it means if I wake up late I can get away with not saving my legs that day, serious bonus! Plus, it’s cold here in the winter, you guys! But even I haven’t really given much thought to a sheer nylon. Certainly not in August – when it is literally 33 degrees! I never really fell in with the leggings trend. Mostly because I knew there was potential that I would fall into the trap of becoming one of those girls who thinks leggings are pants. They aren’t ladies. I can almost hear some of you about to protest, don’t even try it. Not with me. They aren’t pants.

The point is, clearly, the style influence of Kate Middleton knows no limits! She has made something that a lot of us would probably have seen as old fashioned, unneccessary or uncomfortable just a few months ago, seem demure, trendy, maybe even regal. There has been a lot of talk lately about Kate’s covered legs. Does she do it because she has to, what about if she’s got open toed shoes? Is she even allowed to have open toed shoes? And most importantly, where can I get sheer nylons that are as invisible as hers that will make my legs look as flawless, without giving me insane muffin top or pinching my tighs all day or doing that gross bunching slouching thing at the knees and/or ankles? I’ve complied a set of some of the best reviewed nylons to help you guys channel your inner princess. Spanx appears to have caught on to the trend and now has a whole line of sheers called the Royal Look. I must say, my personal favourite is the Joe Fresh brand, which I couldn’t find an image for online. I wear them constantly in the winter. You might not believe this because it does sound like something out of a fairy tale, but I wouldn’t lie about something so serious – they have never run on me. Not once.

Sheers

These underthings have come a long way. They’re no longer the dowdy slouch monsters some of us remember our grandmothers wearing. They’ve also come a long way in terms of comfort and durability. Plus, don’t lie, a control top has saved us all from the nightmare of a satin bridesmaids gown. They’ll get you an extra 3 minutes of windshield scraping before frost bite sets in in the winter, and when you find the right pair they really can hide a multitude of flaws.

So, are nylons/tights/pantyhose a trend your grandmother could get behind? I think so. I don’t know about you, but my grandmothers were pretty bad ass chicks and wouldn’t have gotten behind anything that wasn’t totally worth it.

Tweedley tweedley tweets