Hot or not: Everyone is getting on this hiking booties trend!

I thought I heard wrong the first time I heard about these. I thought people were going crazy. High heeled hiking boots!? When you think about it, it's really absurd, especially for those who actually like to hike. It's clear these kinds of shoes are absolutely the LAST thing you need for a trek up the mountains carrying many pounds of equipment. It's like this ridiculous, completely impractical product of the modern age, wholesale vanity at its purest.

That all said, the style is really growing on me! I can't believe it, but I can't help myself either. There's something about the blatant ruggedness, the impracticality, the sheer audacity that I love. Not to mention the cool details and don't-mess-with-me vibe they give off. So of course I spent a few hours scouring the interwebs for some of the finest examples of these walking oxymorons (which are still within reach). Pictured above are Topshop's 'Arella' booties lined in shearling.

I was so disappointed to find out that the Dollhouse 'Rogeri' style, which are my favorites, have long sold out on sites like I found some other black hiking boot styles that are pretty cool, but none of them have quite the chunky weight of the 'Rogeri.' And lastly are some examples of hiking booties in other colors. The ones from Tambukiki (below) are only about $32!

(Gauchos + Boots)(Style + Comfort) = Suitable alternative to (Skinny Jeans + Boots)(Fat-Bottomed Girls)

I am not trying to be mean, here.  I'm just sayin' that while it's truly a great thing to be a fat-bottomed girl (as Queen sang about them), it's not always so awesome to "let it all hang out."  And that means PUT DOWN. THE. SKINNY. JEANS.  Good heavens!  Curvy girls and skinny jeans!  Being in possession of a few curves myself, I do not pretend I will ever look great in skinny jeans.  Or bikini bottoms and knee socks.

Instead, I offer to you a style-friendly, still-cold-weather alternative to that awful, ubiquitous (skinny jeans + boots) trend we're suffering right now, which will do you and the rest of society a favor by flattering those lovely curves of yours: Gauchos.  Plus boots!
Yes, you can still wear those kickass boots and keep your feet warm while the weather decides whether it's going to continue stinking or not. Amazing.
The term "gaucho" actually refers to a South American people who were sort of equivalent to the North American vaquero or cowboy.  They wore these heavy, loose-fitting pants thusly:

However, it's a bit unclear whether the modern gaucho pants were actually inspired by the native clothing of these South American herdsmen.  Gauchos as we know them were developed in the seventies as a more convenient, more comfortable, more wide-legged cross between the form-fitting capri pants of the sixties (as popularized by the incomparable Audrey Hepbern) and the bell-bottoms of the disco era.  The result was a fantastically practical yet stylish pant that could easily go from casual to dressy to office-appropriate.  And, best of all, the flared leg means its ideal for flattering ladies with hips and thighs (that is to say, something like 90% of normal women in the world).
That said, guachos are not the easiest articles of clothing to find, and even harder to find in the right length (if you're petite like me, they could end up looking like cropped trousers) or the right fabric (light linens for summer, heavier tweeds for winter).  I culled a few favorites to get you started.
And, couldn't help throwing in the Queen video for "Fat Bottomed Girls."  Enjoy!

Personal spring trend, "Shooties" or "shoe boots": Somewhere between an oxford and an ankle boot...

...lies a world of flat-ish, comfortable, and decidedly solid shoes that defy categorization. Some might call them flat ankle boots, though it's not quite accurate, because "ankle boot" should refer to something that actually covers your ankle. Maybe the Frye people got it right when they called it a "shootie" because that captures the neither-here-nor-there nature of such footwear. Or, as Garry quipped, sh'booties.

These shoes have been creeping into my consciousness through several other style blogs (jakandjil and thesartorialist), as well as girls selling vintage oxford/ankle boots on the laws of general economy.  And, of course, my recent acquisition of a pair of Cydwoq Vintage oxfords. Now, I have a full-blown shoe crush on my hands that needs consummation.  Some fine examples of the shoe boot/shootie phenomenon:
The only criteria that seems to tie this class of shoe-boots together are:
  • COMFORT.  You could walk in these shoes all day and still be happy as a clam.
  • Made out of high quality, structured leather
  • Low heel, less than 2 inches if possible
  • Super low  or non-existent shaft (exposed ankles preferable) with a no-fuss slip-on design
  • Cool details like buckles, ties, buttons and hand-tooling a plus
  • Decidedly mannish or androgynous in style.
These shooties tend to fall into one of two style categories - either the Western ankle boot or the embellished oxford.  Also, they seem to abound on vintage sites like Etsy (and sell for quite cheap, less than $50).  Which makes them both accessible and unique, as the unisex nature of these shoes means it takes a girl with some balls to pull them off!  

On that note, I am definitely l ooking forward to finding my perfect pair of oxford/western shoe boot/booties.  Here's the best of the rest:
P.S. If you have questions on where to find any of the boots shown above, please leave a comment or e-mail!

A philosophical question for fashionistas: At what point does gingham become buffalo plaid?

It was news to me when I discovered I'd been misusing the word 'plaid' (the actual cloth) when I really meant to say 'tartan' (the pattern).  In the same way, when you really think about it, most people use the terms 'gingham,' 'buffalo plaid' and even 'checks' interchangeably. They all sort of refer to this square-ish, plaid-ish pattern consisting of just two colors.  The only distinction I could make was that people seem to use 'gingham' when the pattern of squares is small, as with Dorothy's famous blue gingham dress, and buffalo plaid when the pattern is large, as in a flannel lumberjack's shirt.

Dictionaries and wikipedia are not much help; they say gingham is a type of cloth that's usually woven in a checked pattern, and buffalo plaid is simply defined as "a broad checkered plaid pattern usually of two colors."  Which is to say, they are practically the same thing.  And yet they're not!
But let's get down to the interesting stuff, which is the fact that this pattern, especially in black-and-white, has been popping up everywhere.  

I was only moved to blog about it when I saw the beautiful way designer Christopher Kane applied the pattern in his Spring 2010 collection. The cuts, the silhouettes, the drape of the fabric, they are all gorgeously and daringly executed.  But what really makes Kane's collection interesting to me is that he cut the fabric on a bias, so the pattern falls diagonally instead of up-and-down.  I've never seen buffalo plaid (or gingham, as most people are referring to Kane's dresses) so graceful, so ethereal.  It's an interesting juxtaposition of luxuriously delicate fabric and really down-to-earth practicality.  

Of course, I don't expect to afford the real thing so I went off in search of some suitable plaid/gingham dresses that could substitute.  Here's what I found, though I have to say only a couple of them even come close to Christopher Kane's frocks (Scottish designer Zoe Watt's Brass Label being one of them- discovered on Also included some fun accessories featuring the buffalo plaid pattern, from a blanket to slippers to an adorable dog vest.
Clothing: 1. Brass Label collection 2. 3. Forever 21 4. ModCloth 5. Small Earth Vintage 6. Oasis 7. Philip Lim 8. Tambukiki on eBay 9. Urban Outfitters 10. Marks & Spencer 11. kensiegirl 12. American Eagle 13. Forever 21 14. Gap 15. Paul Smith 16. Hot Topic hoodie 17. PixieMarket coat 18. Plastic Island sweater cardigan
Accessories: 1. Old Navy umbrella2. Urban Outfitters throw blanket. 3-4. Aeropostale bikini top and bottom 5. Anthropologie bra 6. Etsy dog vest 7. Forever 21 hi-tops  8. Forever 21 slippers

Legwear from Forever 21: Finally, something I can use my $30 credit on.

I've been a fan of Forever 21 and its founders for, like, ever.  Despite the unrelenting lawsuits they face from all sides, my stance is this: their business model, infrastructure and execution gives them the kind of competitive edge that most clothing companies just can't touch. 

Now, in the way it has revolutionized so many other aspects of the fashion industry, Forever 21 is changing the way we buy legwear.  Yes, legwear: tights, stockings, leggings, socks, what-have-you. Some dear readers may remember an incident where I found and fell in love with an extravagant pair of stockings by MaxMara.  At $75, they practically gave me a heart attack.  But in reality, super basic American Apparel tights cost at least $10 and any pair of tights that are remotely interesting will set you back anywhere from $20 - $50.

The legwear collection at Forever 21, in contrast, ranges from about $5.80 to about $9.80, unless you are going for the fancy leggings in their Twelve by Twelve line.  It's perfect pricing for an item that will inevitably get runs and tears and basically fall apart.

And, get this - they are beautiful!  Different!  Eye-catching!  I first saw them on a couple of my favorite bloggers (Jane Aldridge and Rumi) and knew they must be on to something.  I can't wait to buy up a whole bunch and put them into rotation.

Don't you love how 'inspiration' in the fashion world means wholesale plagiarism?

Behold the 'Drift' mary-jane from BCBGirls.  At a relatively affordable $112, they are a sensible alternative to the much-celebrated and sought-after studded 'Pigalle 100' pumps from Christian Louboutin.  I actually think I like the mary-janes better because the strap makes it so much more practical and wearable, plus I kind of prefer the suede over the leather.  If it weren't for the daunting 4.5" heels (even with a 0.5" platform), I would totally buy them.

I'm just a bit bemused by how much these shoes really 'borrow,' 'steal,' 'reference,' what have you, the original Louboutins.  For an industry that is so obsessed with protecting designs and intellectual property, it seems the line is very fuzzy and muddy indeed.

Here are the originals for your reference.  I think they retail upwards of $900.  And they look very dangerous besides.

Hat tip to A Girl's Guide to Shoes for finding the BCBG pumps first.

Hot or Not? Ombre Nails

I think it was Glamour where I first saw this, and I felt so instantly conflicted that it could only mean one thing: another Hot or Not post!

So this nail trend involves starting with a base color, then mixing in varying degrees of white or black nail polish, to get an ombre look that fades from dark to light.  When it comes to nail polish, I generally have the same outlook as I do towards my tacos: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  Why let a good thing get out of hand (ha, ha)?

Then again, I can't deny that it's kind of pretty.  Definitely classier than multi-colored nails and scary add-ons. But what do you think?  Gimmicky?  Smacking of tacky?  I can't decide.

P.S. I'm actually pretty impressed/intrigued by the nails in the third picture (above).  I'm sure that takes a lot more patience/nail painting skill than I have.

Dilemmas: Incarnations of Black-and-White Tie Dye, the Dress and the Scarf.

Another of my personal fall trends (maybe they are better labeled as "interests," "fascinations," or "obsessions"): tie-dyed things.  I'm specifically drawn to the black-and-white variety, or its equally neutral cousins (gray-and-black, white-and-navy), because let's face it, I am not one to pull off the rainbow-hued hippie sort of tie-dyed T-shirt.

The concept first entered my consciousness through Lucky's end-page spread from Andrea Linett, the insufferably smug creative director who has been called "the horsey, manfaced ex-Sassy editor" by at least one vehement blogger.  I know, I hate her sense of entitlement too.  But I totally developed an infatuation with this tie-dyed cashmere scarf she featured in the some really old issue of Lucky. The very idea of tie-dyed cashmere was intoxicating - such a flippant, casual method applied to such a luxurious material.  The scarf, of course, was way out of my budget, but the idea stuck.
A month ago, my dear Annie sported a simple tank dress from Calvin Klein that was tie-dyed in the same way.  Of course, this girl can pull off anything, but it really looked good--and versatile to boot, the way she combined it with black tights and a belt. Then, I saw a glimpse of some tie-dye the other week while browsing through American Apparel.  Usually I am hard-pressed to find anything worth buying at AA, but the style of the dye almost exactly matched the one in Ms. Linett's spread.  And finally, I was reminded of this latent tie-dye obsession when I came across a beautiful, version of the tie-dyed dress in the tambukiki eBay boutique.

Now, I'm torn!  Do I get the simple shift dress from Calvin Klein (on sale now for just $20!)?  Or the giant and infinitely versatile circle scarf from American Apparel ($34)?  Or both?  Or do I bite the bullet and invest in one of the uber-extravagant cashmere versions ($200+)?

Hot or Not? Dolce Vita Wilde Boot

Unless you have been living under a proverbial fashion nock, you've no doubt been smacked in the face repeatedly by this fall fashion trend: the thigh-high boot. To be honest, like most normal (read: non-fashionista) people, I'm a bit dubious about it and I'm pretty sure it's going to be rather short lived, and thus hardly worth the investment.

That said, these Dolce Vita Wilde boots caught my eye because of the cinnamon-bronze, supple leather and sleek profile.  And the comfortably doable 3" heels. That was from the front.  Then I looked at the backs and did a double-take at the weird cut-outs behind the knees.  I felt instantly conflicted. On the one hand, the spirit of these boots perfectly captures my half-assed attitude towards thigh-high boots, like they can't decide what they want to be.  On the other hand, they really are a little strange.

So I submit to you, dear readers--what do you think of them? Photos shamelessly stolen off of

My Personal Fall Trend: Waistcoats for Women

I can't say I understand the nuances of seasonal trends--all I've gathered so far is that over-the-knee boots and red lipstick are supposed to be tres "in" this fall. So I have no idea where menswear-inspired pieces fall in the spectrum of "trendy - dowdy," but something tells me it's the sort of thing that never goes out of style.  And so friends, I give you: waistcoats for women.

Now, I am not talking mere vests, that foul Americanization of the word.  Though people might assume that vests and waistcoats are interchangeable, I beg to differ.  While a vest, to me, is any old thing with no sleeves worn over something else, waistcoats involve some must-haves:
  1. Tailoring: Lapels, darts, seams, interfacing. This means that a waistcoat must never be made of any shapeless sweater-like knit material!
  2. Buttons or some other closure of some kind. Again, it is not something you can just pull over your head like any common vest.  It requires patience!  Class! Preferably of the double-breasted sort!
  3. Some interesting detail: Okay, this is just my personal opinion, but it's one thing to wear something that looks like it belongs as part of a three-piece suit.  It's another thing to wear a stand-alone waistcoat that makes a statement all on its own!
Vests/waistcoats were the kind of accessory that never crossed my mind as a legitimate investment, when I was growing up.  If you had given me a vest in high school I would hardly have known what to do with it.  It just seemed so extraneous, so unnecessary!  But now they're growing on me for that very reason.  So what if they don't keep you warm, or hold something up, or cover up something that needs to be covered?  It sort of hit me the other day when I was at my friend's wedding and saw a (very cute) female server with a a simple, well-tailored black waistcoat over her white uniform, and thought, "I should totally rock that look!"

I think we're on to something here.

List of items above: 1. Heimstone Gilet for acrimony. 2-3. Boy by Band of Outsiders. 4. Candy and Caviar for 5. Citizens of Elysium on 6. 17th-century woman's waistcoat. 7. Erik Hart for 8. 17th-century floral embroidered waistcoat.  9-10. Forever 21. 11. Generra at  12. Heimstone Gilet, in black.  13. MBH Saddlery show halter waistcoat. 14.  Paper Denim Cloth.  15. Play the Odds. 16. Yellow quilted Provencal waistcoat. 17. Roberto Rodriguez at  18-19. Silence and Noise for 20. Vintage textile waistcoat. 21. Alice + Olivia.