Every Girl’s Favorite Pastime

Every Girl’s Favorite Pastime

norma_kamaliBathing suit shopping. Just the thought of it makes me gain 5 pounds. I was speaking to my fabulous-bodied friend today and even she hates having to wear swimsuits, and if her body can’t make a bathing suit look good, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The answer lies in vintage swimwear. Whoever first brought back shapes and styles from the 40s and 50s should be lauded to mile high style heaven as these suits are a savior, mainly because the designs back then targeted a more modest woman. Simply put, these suits use more fabric, higher cuts, and more ruching detail. The gold standard swimwear designer for this style has to be Norma Kamali, whose pieces are elegant, flattering and totally functional. The price point for her designs is high, no doubt about it. But you only need one, it will last you forever, and the confidence gained by wearing such a piece exceeds any dollar amount.

If you can’t stomach throwing down $350 for a bathing suit, Anthropologie has more affordable options (that, subsequently, i find absolutely darling.) With possibilities like these, we should no longer feel self-conscious at the beach, instead owning and flaunting our inner retro-girl bathing beauty.

 

And we’re off!!

And we’re off!!

balloonsWelcome! Mile High Style has been a labor of love for many years, even before I realized it could be something more than just a hobby, just a passion. Starting about 6 months ago and changing form many times along the way, I’m finally ready to release it to all of you, hoping that beauty and style can inspire in any way, whether it’s buzz about a great new find or a total style overhaul. Because in the end, it’s really all about how it makes you feel. Beauty is like oxygen to me, and it’s time I pass it forward. So take a look, take a tip, take what you need for the outside to reflect in.

Designer Rundown: Who Deserves Your Money

I’ve been a shopper for a long time. Starting with JCREW in high school, discovering Barney’s Co-op in college and spending my post graduate New York City years buying designers both emerging and established, I can confidently say that I’ve worn, or at the very least tried on, every designer out there. There was the unfortunate 21st birthday ensemble courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana that left very little to the imagination and gave much to the fashion police. Then came the first pair of Manolo Blahniks I bought after watching too much Sex & the City; I imagine Carrie’s heel didn’t snap in half during the first week she wore them. Then followed the ubiquitous Juicy jumpsuit that wouldn’t look good on me even in my dreams.

But for each of these experiments, there was also a Gucci high-heel sandal purchased at the Chevy Chase Maryland Saks and then featured (or fetishized) in the movie Hannibal. I only recently parted with those stunners, as they were past the point of restoration (and a size too small). The amazing beige jacket I am wearing in my website photo came from a random Dutch designer, discovered in a boutique on the Upper West Side that, contrary to its name, had only one ‘really great thing.’ And my newest acquisition: an olive green Chloe leather swing jacket from Colorado’s best consignment store. If you are going to buy designer, I can help guide your choices and hopefully provide some information that you may not know. Like everything else on my website, the following is purely my opinion and experience.

Ralph Lauren/Polo- I’ve been waiting a long time for an opportunity to speak about this brand-probably since my first RL $400 cashmere sweater (an investment piece) absolutely fell apart. I remember asking my friend and fellow fashion maven Katie Boudria about their sweaters and apparently yes, it is common knowledge that their sweaters are crap. I worked for a summer in the Greenwich store (run by Jehovah’s Witnesses) (a story for another time) and saw up-close all the merchandise in its unoriginal and overpriced glory. The cherry on top involved the recent scandal with the brand’s longtime model who was fired for being too heavy (it probably goes without saying that she is gorgeous and has a body any woman would envy.) I can put my personal experience and moral outrage aside to opine that the clothing is outrageously overpriced, cut smaller than most, and just not interesting: there are only so many seasons of denim, lace, cashmere and sequins made into evening gowns. Additionally, the accessories (sunglasses, scarves, jewelry) are, like everything else RL, a rip-off and poorly made. If I were you, I would take a pass on Polo.

Know this though: it is pronounced Ralph LAUREN (like all your friends who were born in the 80s), not Ralph LauREN (the affectation).

Donna Karen– another American designer maybe not as widely recognizable in brand, Donna Karen produces a fabulous and consistent product. Here’s an important secret about her clothing: she designs for women, for women’s bodies. Her designs are elegant, chic, timeless and comfortable. While her price point is not low (prêt a porter DKNY does not, unfortunately, rival her higher-end line in any of its merits), if you are shopping in this world, give Donna Karen a go.

Alexander Wang- one price point down and newer to the scene, Wang is readily available in higher end boutiques and department stores. He has some good stuff, and some questionable stuff, but on the whole is just largely inconsistent. I remember browsing through pieces from his collection last year, wondering if the illicit substance smoking came during the line’s conception or its execution.

3.1 Philip Lim– a contemporary of Wang who forgoes the pipe prior to creating his collections, Philip Lim is absolutely a go-to, consistently producing a line that is urban yet understated, edgy but polished, and always feminine. (And responsible, having produced a line that is eco friendly.) I recommend starting with his tops that are more affordable and can be paired with most everything, and his dresses are always sublime.

Manolo Blahnik– this ubiquitous shoe designer was designing classic heels for ‘ladies who lunch’ until Carrie Bradshaw’s endorsement shot him through the stratosphere. Owning a pair of Blahniks became the de rigueur status symbol for women wanting to look glamorous and chic. The only problem? These shoes are for ladies who lunch, not career girls who are on their feet all day, walking over subway grates, up and down stairs, spanning city blocks. Blahniks are lovely shoes but they’re just not made for any sort of medium-high impact and won’t wear well.

Christian Louboutin- in the pantheon for the shoe gods, Blahnik will surely share space one day with this quirky French shoe man. Known for his fabulous red soles, his work is highly coveted by shoe mavens and has become the epitome of chic footwear. The main difference between these two comes down to simple wear ability. Louboutins have a more structured leather (even more so if it’s patent), the heels are thicker, and many have a built in platform in the sole, which is key for comfort. Past that, Louboutins are a little edgier, a little cooler, younger, sexier, and have more variety (the wedges are a particularly good investment as you won’t have to worry about heel care.)

Tory Burch/Diane Von Furstenberg- first, an apology: I know women love these two designers (especially here in Boulder), the tunic, the wrap-dress, and I get it. And I am sorry for having to point this out, but the quality of their clothes for the price point is simply not good enough. I want you to get the most for your money and $400 for a tunic is just not that. If DVF shaved $100 of her prices, I’d have an easier time endorsing her, but the rent in her Meatpacking District store doesn’t come cheap.

Elizabeth & James/Rachel Pally- the former is a line designed by Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen (and named after their other siblings), the latter a series of dresses and separates made from the most comfortable and wearable fabric (Modal) you’ll ever experience. Pally’s pieces, especially her dresses, are very basic, nearly all solids, and great for everyday warmer weather wear. E&J has an edgier look, more standout pieces, but still manages to be functional, elegant and feminine.

Stella McCartney- designed for fashion house Chloe before starting her own label, the daughter of Beatle Paul is very eco-conscious and a strong supporter of animal rights. What I really like about her lines are their financial versatility- each season she creates great t-shirts and tanks that are fabulous pieces on their own and usually reflect a very reasonable price point. And her knitwear (sweaters, sweater dresses), if you can afford it, is the best out there.

Fashion Freebie- investing in top designer pieces doesn’t have to drain your piggy bank. Anywhere from 2-4 months after hitting stores, these pieces go on sale. Then on serious sale, with certain high end department stores (and their online partners) slashing up to 75% off original prices. So a Stella McCartney wool and cashmere sweater dress that retailed for over $1000 is available for around $300. You just have to know where and when to look.