Barneys has the always fabulous Virginia Johnson shawls, a few of them, anyway, on serious sale. The weight of these particular shawls -- a wool gauze -- is totally yummy, and you could definitely wear these into the fall and even winter.
There are the usual speakers and forums and workshops scheduled. And then last night was the Literacy Signing, open to the public -- a benefit for some nonprofit, I don't even know which one. Frankly, I didn't really care. Because there were 500 -- that's right, 500 -- authors sitting at tables with their books, pens in hand.
What was incredible -- besides meeting and talking to some of my very favorite authors -- was the diversity of the huge crowd and the authors themselves. It's true that I didn't see any male writers. But otherwise it was a stunning multiplicity of people: big-city types and people from smaller towns, young and old, fat and thin -- you get the picture.
A couple things stood out.
First was the Successful Author Uniform. The heavy-hitters -- Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Howard and my personal favorite Suzanne Brockmann (and can I just say, she was incredibly gracious when I met her?) -- had special tables off to the side so there was room for long lines to form. I was struck by their outfits: the black suit, the classy pin, the highly coiffed hair and the best accessory, a general aura of success. Indeed, that was in great supply last night among the Successful Authors. As for the authors -- who are also successful, I might add -- they were also wearing various uniforms, their versions of the Successful Author Uniform. But funnily enough, their idea didn't conform to anything you'd consider fashionable. It was more, I don't know, a Romance Author Uniform -- flowered dress, humorous earrings, comfortable shoes.
But I digress.
The other thing that stood out was bad red hair.
Because I really admire anyone who can write a novel -- not to mention smart and funny novels -- I don't want to name names. But I was really surprised at the outbreak of weird red dye jobs. What was that about? Is it a way to let people know you're not made from a particular mold, that you're different and interesting? Well, it doesn't really work.
However, it is true that number one thing you can do to change your look is to change your hair. Cut and color are so important as a way to show the world who you are. But you do NOT need a screaming burgundy-red color to let the world know you're fun and interesting, bold and dramatic. That idea is better conveyed through your clothes and accessories -- and not, I might add, the cute and fun pins and earrings I saw on display last night.
But I don't want to end on a negative note, because I do love romance novels so much. I will say that I was so thrilled to meet the authors I've been reading for years. And, you know, I'm really not alone in my reading habits. I once read that some huge percentage of books sold are romances. These stats don't bear that out, but they do show that it's very likely that you or another smart, interesting woman you know, has recently read a romance.
If you've been hankering after a Love Quotes scarf this summer but balked at the price tag, take heart -- they're on sale at Shopbop (two for the price of one). Tie one on! Although they're an accessory of/for Summer 2009, they'll also be especially nice for bringing your summer clothes into fall.
It seems I was a little hasty in my judgment about Michelle Obama's papal visit attire. Gotta love blogs and news sites that actually do a little research, like the excellent East Wing Rules, which posted photos of Laura Bush and Jackie Kennedy wearing veils. (Note Jackie's floor-length sheath dress!)
East Wing Rules asks why people are freaking out about the veil, and I guess I don't have a good answer. It just seemed silly and over-the-top -- possibly because of how long it was in relation to the length of her skirt, possibly because of the excessive frou-frou in the rest of her outfit. Did you like Michelle in her veil? If not, tell us why.
I'm in shock. Seriously. Witness this so-weird-it's-hard-to-believe picture of Michelle Obama channel a Greek widow. For real. Veil and all. To meet the Pope.
I was all set to write about her very cool tourist outfit yesterday in Rome. But no. I had to find this instead. And my God is she going to get totally raked over the coals for this horrible choice. It's so horrible, I don't even know where to start. No, that's wrong -- the veil. Well, headdress, really. (A veil goes over the face, doesn't it?) The complicated top with the needs-adjusting belt? The coat on top of all that? All that's missing is the rosary. But wait! She's not Catholic!
Help me here, people. Was the all-black veiled ensemble a necessary sign of respect?
I see that women must cover their knees and shoulders -- a tough call for a woman who has made a high art of showing her shoulders and knees. But this is taking things a little too far.
I'm reading a fair amount of praise for what's being described as a yellow dress or sheath, but I don't buy it.
First, that's a yellow T-shirt with a yellow skirt. Cardigan apparently from Liz Claiborne (worn here leaving the White House in a much better outfit).
Note the overly precious little pin -- her pins are starting to seem like a tic -- and the tiny bit of ivory cami peeking out from what someone must have told her was a too-low-cut T-shirt.
I do really like Mrs. Obama in yellow. It's just that I love the idea of a uniform, but it has to be a good uniform. Her uniform for major state appearances -- a sheath dress -- works well. Check out this yellow sheath with green pin. It's the same color combination she wore for the inauguration to great acclaim. The skirt-and-cardi combo is, to my mind, a little too fussy and complicated and just isn't as successful.
Plus: That yellow-and-green combo makes me a little twitchy, and I'm not sure why. It may be because the color are warm and because they're next to each other on the color wheel, but I gotta ask my color expert, Annie Elliot. Could just be my own weird thing, I don't know.
As for Mrs. Obama's day outfit -- the skirt/T/cami/cardi: it's too complicated and overthought. Statement jewelry is great, but it has to look like you were clever enough to throw something on and have it look great. And this yellow outfit fails.
But the warm color gives HER a warmth that has by now become her calling card, and more power to her.
I think the simple lines of the sheath really suit her and the complicated lines of the other outfit just don't.
Next up: What you can learn from Michelle O's leisure-time tourist outfit today in Rome.
I don't love her empire-wrapped belts (way high up). I don't always love her hair. And I'm not so big on kitten heels.
But I love love love a fabulous necklace, and Michelle Obama has been really rocking some gorgeous ones.
Last night in Moscow she wore one by Fenton by Dana Lorenz necklace. (See more on the Fenton website, which sadly doesn't include an online shopping component.)
In May she was bold at the White House Correspondents Dinner in hot pink and a St. Erasmus necklace.
The night of the Oscars, she outshone Hollywood in a Tom Binns necklace, like this one (left).
And all this is well and good, but what about the rest of us, who can't afford a whole wardrobe of pricy fashion baubles.
I'm in love with Lulu Frost jewelry, like the fabulous pieces from the Tribal collection. (Great jewelry, lousy website.)
I like a lot of the jewelry at the charming Shop Floor Project, where you can also purchase jewelry from St. Erasmus.
Also fabulous, and surprisingly affordable, is Subversive jewelry. And how about this lovely gold Erickson Beamon chain, on sale at Vivre (below)?
If you want to see some great necklaces and how they can really boost a pretty dress or outfit, take a look at the audio slide show of Bill Cunningham's fabulous Sunday Times "On the Street." (Note that the necklace in the third slide is a $48 frippery from Anthropologie. And note especially that when the jewelry works best in these pictures, it's worn without too much thought or matching involved -- it's really just a frame for the face.)
So I see I've neglected this blog shamefully recently. Instead, I've been getting my picture taken professionally, thinking about signing on for coaching with image consultant and coach Brenda Kinsel (you can visit her blog here), and commenting on fashion for SheKnows and the great local blog DC Goodwill Fashion. You can see the SheKnows article here and my guest post for the Goodwill blog here.
What have you been doing? What do you predict will be your number-one go-to piece of clothing this summer? I'd like to hear about it!
And speaking of the summer, where are you headed? Wherever your plans hold, you'd go in style carrying this bag, by Orla Kiely. Style + whimsy = what's not to love?
I just sent a reporter some ideas for what to wear to a summer barbecue. Key thought: Remember where you will be and dress appropriately. In the city, in the street? Think more structure, darker colors, etc. In someone's backyard, I suggest a pretty floral dress, like this one by Nanette Lapore, thong sandals, maybe with some embellishment, and a hat. You can then take the basic formula -- pretty, bare dress + sandals + statement necklace -- and dress it up or down, for day or night.
Only problem here is I think this purse is too structured for this occasion -- what do you think? What would you wear to a summer barbecue?