Saturday, January 30, 2010

Valentines Day is Coming...

I am veering off of my standard topics today, this is less about style and more about lifestyle. I've been thinking about the upcoming "holiday" and all the pressure it brings. The general hype for February 14th is that we are all supposed to be in perfect form that day, have the best long stemmed red roses delivered by noon, and have a romantic dinner for two booked for 7pm at the most chichi restaurant in town. Not to mention the jewels, the chocolates, the lingerie. WHAT? The pressure of it all. Why do we do this to ourselves and our significant others. Maybe instead of roses paired with baby's breathe, you would prefer some bright orange tulips or a new basil plant for your kitchen. Instead of the fancy dinner out, dressed to the nines, you would rather do takeout and watch netflix in your jammies. Spending lots of money, running around looking for the perfect necklace or cufflinks is a great gesture but perhaps your lady would rather spend some time alone relishing in an amazing, much needed massage or he would prefer some down time with his buddies to go watch a sports game or spend the day in the river, fly fishing. Showing your significant other that they mean the world to you can be just as much about doing something for them vs. with them.

Having kids also throws many for a loop as there are only so many sitters available for guilt-free sitting on February 14th. Instead of trying to re-create the wheel with sneaking in a dinner for two, why not make it a group thing. In past I have organized a few group dinners that turned out to be fun for both the adults and kids alike. When my oldest was 2, we gathered a collection of families with the same family dynamics and booked a room at a family style Italian restaurant downtown. Because we had our own area, the kids were free to move about and yet we were in adult company with good food and wine for the evening. Another dinner a number of years later, 5 couples came to our house (kids in tow) for a Valentines fondue. The kids were given their own easy dinner, movies and activities while the adults took over the dining room and had our own evening. The kids were happy to be with their friends and the adults likewise. Personalized placemats made with some markers and a trip to Kinko's were a treat for the kids and winetags, candles and a couple of boxed truffles for each of the couples were a welcome surprise. Nothing over the top, nothing too expensive, just a great evening out in celebration of each other.

And for the singles. Embrace it. No need to sit at home and think of all the perfect couples out there having such a PERFECT night. Please. Gather a group and head to a new haunt. In the Seattle area, I am constantly reading about new bars, new restaurants and think, if I only had the time to gather some friends and head out. Seize the day! Get your friends from work, from a book club, where ever and have each person bring one other. If not out on the town, perhaps a themed potluck and game night at someone's home. With each person bringing a friend, you never know who you might meet.

I guess my thoughts today are merely suggesting a different way of looking at Valentines Day. Instead of feeling the pressure to do what's expected, have a chat with your partner and discuss what a better, more realistic approach would be. Instead of pretending to love the carnation bouquet you receive for the 15th year in a row, why not mention that you really love dahlia's instead. Cancel the high pressure, high priced meal out and have a family Italian deli night on a checkered table cloth in the middle of the living room. Singles, grab your best buddies and head out for the 11pm disco themed bowling night and have a blast.

Here's to some happy, low maintenance Valentines Day planning!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Spring Thing

Wow. 2010 is off to a speedy start, I can't believe it is almost the end of January. Just as you've finally figured out your winter wardrobe and are feeling cozy in that cashmere, the shops and magazines are already pushing spring looks our way. While we are curling up with a cup of tea and dreaming of warmer days, the stockrooms are receiving many a shipment and starting to wheel the new merchandise out on the floor. So, what do we make of the new trends and where do we start. The two main themes that are everywhere are brights and neutrals. And then we have denim, white shirts, blue, shirt dresses, florals, tribal, hot shorts and harem pants. Oh my. Covers a lot of ground doesn't it?!?

Just like any other season, my main message will be, just because its on the pages of Vogue, does not mean you need to buy it. Just because a 17 year old, 6 foot model looks good in it, does not mean the rest of us do. Okay? O.K. Excellent.

Back to the start. Brights are fun. They give us a little kick in our step. Not every color looks good on everyone though. If you happen to love bright yellow, perhaps choose a fun purse or bracelet to show your love of sunshine. Yellow hot pants on the other hand may loose their spark the minute you get them home. The same goes for fushia, purple, orange, etc. On the other hand, if these colors look good on you, choose a cute t-shirt, cardigan or lightweight jacket to throw overtop an outfit for a little punch. These items need not come from Neimans, this is when Target, Old Navy, and sales racks are perfect. In today, out tomorrow and no love lost because of a hefty price tag.

Neutrals. Sounds boring but it doesn't have to be. First of all the nude shoes that Hollywood has been wearing for the last 2 seasons are sexy. Once we loose the tights and hose, the look of a bare leg with a great pair of nude shoes is fabulous. When you are wearing a brighter or multi colored dress, instead of being matchy matchy and looking like you are going to prom, a nude shoe is perfect. Your shoes just blend in and your legs look longer without the chop up of a bright color at the end of your leg.
With the neutral clothes, you can mix many different shades and textures of neutral to create interest. With the below photos, this has been achieved with layering different fabrics and tones. Wouldn't the first two be great with a mustard yellow bag or a denim jacket for a daytime coverup? The dressier outfit could pair with a fushia clutch for a punch of color, although its beautiful on its own.

Next up is a great, white shirt. These never go out of style and there is so much you can do with them. This is a piece that you want to spend money on as, if cared for, it will last you a long time. Blue is also being shown a lot and it is not referring strictly to denim. There are various tops, purses, shoes and jewelry in both turquoise and denim shades. Please, whatever you do, no head to toe denim unless you want to wrangle steer on a cattle ranch. Visualize City Slickers.

And tribal. Another look that can look great or be a nightmare. The best way to incorporate this look into your wardrobe is with a fun belt, bracelet scarf or shoe. Although, this looks amazing on the gal below, it probably won't work for most of us. ** See above regarding 6ft , 17 year old model!

On to more practical looks, the shirt dress. If done right, this is something that can be such a versatile look for work and play. Comfort plays a big part in this as well, looking good, feeling good. Only one warning, if it looks like your dads shirt you wore to elementary school art class, the rest of the world will think so as well. If you recall this trend from yesteryear, it means you've done it once before and have to do the adult version this time. Make sure it has some tailoring to it and not a giant t-shirt that looks like you are headed to the pool. This Millie version is so versatile, I just love it!

Next we come to harem pants and hot pants. Again, do you remember them from your past? This time, lets skip the grown up version because, honestly, I don't think there is one. If there is, there shouldn't be. A good pair of fitted bermuda shorts looks great in the daytime or can be dressed up for an evening BBQ. Other than that, wear a skirt or dress. No need for hot pants.

Finally shoes. Always a fun way to zip up an outfit or change it from day to night. The first must have was mentioned above, the nude shoe. You can find this is heels or flats although I think the first looks the best if you are looking to lengthen. The other two trends in shoes for spring are wedges and cut-outs. Wedges to me, are a daytime shoe. You get the height but they are also pretty casual whether they are weaved, cork or even all leather. The cut-out on the other hand is being shown in all styles, from flat to pumps to dressier high heels. This brings back memories for me as I remember these great beige and white Bandelino cutouts that my mom bought me in the early 80's. I wonder where they are now.......

Here's looking forward to spring!


Monday, January 11, 2010

NaLa Trunk Show

Yesterday I gathered up some gals and we headed out to Redmond to attend the NaLa Seattle trunk show. I had seen the NaLa website and had a quick peek at a few of their items at a store but you just have to get up close and personal to this line to see how truly fabulous it is. The creators of NaLa, Laurie and Nancy, were both in attendance and friendly, willing and able to introduce my friends and I to each piece. We each grabbed a stack and ran for the dressing room to assess our goodies. The fabrics are wonderful, so soft, like your best pair of jammies but yet cut to flatter, they look good. My favorite feature of many of their items is the banded waistline. Whether its at the top of the yoga pant to fold over and cover that tummy just right or at the waistline of the tops, to give the top some added length and add some pleating around your middle to again hide that not so perfect tummy. Only speaking for myself here of course! The line is very well thought out with just the right amount of choices to not overwhelm the buyer. The offerings included 2 different yoga pants, one a boot cut leg, the other, a narrow ankle with ruching. The bootcut leg is quite long so I recommend the ruched one for anyone under 5'7" if you don't want to have to alter. In the top department, there are six tops offered, two being cami's, one banded tank, one tee, and two longer sleeved tops. One of my friends purchased the "grab your girls and go" cami and it was really nice. It seemed to offer plenty of support and at the same time had the cutest lines to it. It looks like a very comfortable bustier without the actual ribbing and keeping the girls firmly tucked inside. Very flattering on. To round the line out, there is a hip hugger skirt to put on over your yoga pants for a very cute appearance as well as giving you a little extra coverage for those who don't like to walk around with a skin tight bottom. This is the perfect addition when you want to run to the market or school pick up line right after working out. Finally, NaLa carries a softer than soft scarf in three color combinations to match each of the other clothes. It has a ruffle look to it and is a great accessory to top off your workout wear. I was very impressed.

In speaking with Laurie about NaLa, she and Nancy (friends and fellow moms) both enjoy working out and felt there was a real void in feminine workout wear. They started putting their ideas together in October 2008 and a year later launched and started product shipment of NaLa. Their fitness line not only offers a new, feminine look to workout wear but also a more versatile one, allowing busy woman to feel comfortable running from the gym to the market to the school without feeling grungy or not put together. Good job gals!

For further details, check out their website at:

Locally you will find the NaLa line offered at Finch and Sparrow in Seattle, the ProClub in Redmond, and David Barton Gym at the Bravern in Bellevue.

For those of you in Arizona, you will find NaLa at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two questions answered......

Answers to a couple of questions….. In the last two weeks, two questions have come up several times and I thought they were good ones to answer for all. Firstly, why would someone need a person to clean out their closet or shop for them? Who needs a service like this? In response to a question I have been asked directly and through others, I will use myself to explain. I’m pretty good with numbers and am able to do my own taxes but it is not something that comes easily for me, nor do I enjoy it. Since my husband shares my sentiments on this, we choose to hire our fabulous Bob Jones to do our taxes for us. This is his career and he knows all the ins and outs. It is something he enjoys and is very confident about so Bob is the best one for this job. How this pertains to me and Pink Pagoda Style is that I have a love for style and clothes and it is something that has always come easily to me, for both myself and for assisting others. Anyone can walk into a store and buy a pair of jeans but not everyone enjoys the process, feels confident about the process or wants to spend the time to do it. Sure store clerks are there to assist and sometimes that assistance is good. We would like to think that a 19 year old on commission has our best interest at heart but is that really the case? Are they going to be honest about what cut or color looks best on you? Are they going to give you all the options or just place the highest priced items in your change room? Hiring a stylist allows you to not only figure out what you truly do and do not need but allows you to play with new looks within your current wardrobe and experiment with ones that you might not have tried on your own. The second question that has come up since last weeks blog on cleaning your closet is what to do with the clothes that you love but they just don’t fit. Are they purge items or keep items? Well, that just depends. If you gained a couple of pounds over the holiday and those favorite pants are just a tad too tight, I would suggest keeping them. Chances are that when you get back in the swing of things, those few pounds will be lost and all is well. For the items that have not fit for some time now, same rule as the haven’t worn for 12 months applies. If you truly love that item, I would guess that you aren’t wearing it because it no longer fits. Why punish yourself into constantly being reminded that you are no longer that size by wearing something that is uncomfortable. Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand, if you aren’t comfortable in those pants or that top, you body language is going to show it. For those of you that have made a resolution to get your body back, we all know that isn’t on overnight process. If you are working towards that goal, would it not be fabulous to reward yourself with new items once that goal is achieved. In the meantime, you should have items in your closet that fit you now, not later.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolution #2

We all are thinking about getting back to the gym, cutting down on the calories, and overall fine-tuning our lifestyle after weeks of holiday indulgences. After we get that going, what comes next? Cleaning out our closets , both literally and metaphorically. Taking out the old, bringing in the new and generally having a fresh start on the New Year.

I would like to go straight to the literal version and help you jump into this task with both feet. Where to start? First of all, find a day where nothing else is planned and you will have minimal to no interruption. Get your coffee, turn off the phone, and empty that sucker out! Yes, empty. Completely. I want you to see your walls and carpet, nothing should be left.

Next step is picking your 5 most favorite things. You have 6 favorites? Okay, you can add that as well. The point is to only put your very favorites together and back in the closet they go. Of course, only after you inspect those items for any dry cleaning or mending needs. The next step involves a little math. We are starting a new year so you have had 12 months to wear those "maybe items". Anything in there that hasn't been worn in the last twelve, make a pile, its time for them to go. Make sure that pile is far from your closet, we can't have any of those items sneaking back in for another twelve. The only exception to this 12 month rule is perhaps a very special dress or tux (that is still current and fitting) for special occasions that is your go to item in case of a formal event. This item is allowed. Moving on. Is there anything in there that still has tags attached? Why are they still attached? Did you buy some items for an upcoming trip and are saving them? This is good. Did you buy them last July and think they would be perfect for fall? Fall has passed and you still haven't worn them. Out they go. Next is general inspection time. What is missing buttons, needs a hem, a zipper replacement or just a good clean? Out they go in the "to be mended pile". Now what is left? Take each item, take it to your favorites and see if they like each other. ;) Is there at least one item that this piece will go with? Do you like them together? Yes, in, no, out. For now, these yes's should go to the side of the closet. I will explain in a moment. Go through each remaining piece and take it to the appropriate space. Once you have all your yes's back in the closet, its time for one more edit. Find a "clear of piles" space, get a good mirror, and start to play. All of these 'yes' items need to have a purpose in your wardrobe and the purpose should not be to just hang around or confuse you when looking for outfit options. If you need to start trying on, go for it. Put your favorite pants/skirt/jeans on and start rotating the tops and blouses. What looks awesome? What does nothing for you? When you really start to see what sparks your mood and what does nothing for it, you will be on a good road of editing. While you are doing this, grab your shoes and play with those as well. Scarfs, hats, costume jewelry. I told you, you would need a day. Crank up your favorite tunes and enjoy this time.

Once your play time is complete and you are feeling great about what you have, know what you might need to replace or add , it is time to deal with the piles. Cleaning/mending, assuming they are favorites or great pieces to keep, take them to the car so they are ready to drop off on your next outing. As for the "get rid of's", 3 piles. If the tagged items are current, can you still return them? Higher end items can easily be sold on eBay for under a $1 charge to you. Lightly worn, current mall brands can be sold at second hand stores such as Plato's Closet for immediate cash, and everything else for donation. There you have it. You will be exhausted but oh, so pleased to have a fresh and organized closet.

Oh, and by the way, if you still need help......... Pink Pagoda.