Style at any age: Trendsetter clutch bags for under $100

A chic and roomy clutch is an easy (and inexpensive) way to work a trend. All of these cost under $100.
A chic and roomy clutch is an easy (and inexpensive) way to work a trend. All of these cost under $100.

 

Keeping your personal style, being on trend, as you get older can sometimes be a challenge. It can also be a challenge no matter your age if you are not an heiress to a large fortune or a globe-trotting supermodel whose entire closet of designer duds is “gifted”. (Not bitter, I swear, I am not bitter!)

So the double challenge of being, ahem, under-employed and, let’s face it, a little bit of a trend whore, has forced me to become more strategic in my shopping. Every buck I spend must make a bang stylistically and, because I am well past my 20s, look more expensive than it was.

I have found that the easiest way to amp up your style is with accessories and lately my  style-amping accessory of choice has been the clutch. For me it’s the day clutch. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to rock a beaded clutch or shiny minaudier for evening but to work a big scrunchy, one-of-a-kind looking bag under your arm like a fashion boss? That takes some skill.

So for your edification, I present …

If you love rocker style:

First the age thing. I still like my rock and roll/punk edge but lets be real, I’m too old to be tricked out in leather skinny jeans, fringed scarves and studs everywhere … unless I want to look like an old woman trying too hard (or Steven Tyler, which is really the same thing, ammirite?) But I am not too old to wear this uber soft black be-fringed beauty from Deux Lux with everything from a black sheath and heels to (tasteful) black skinnies, a soft sweater and an oversized wrap coat …

A so soft pouch with just enough fringe on the sides to make it trendy but not too ...Deux Lux faux leather fringed pouch, $75.
A so soft pouch with just enough fringe on the sides to make it trendy but not too …Deux Lux faux leather fringed pouch, $75.

I got mine at Nordstrom, Fashion Island but you can get yours here.

More rocker clutches …

Chic Nova studded clutch, $47.

If you love animal print:

Who doesn’t love leopard or cheetah print? Once relegated to a certain class of overdressed lady, animal prints (for me it’s specifically, leopard print) have crossed into the realm of iconic neutral. But if you’re of a certain age, too much of such a good thing can tip from kicky and fun to tacky and frumpy in less time than it takes to say “I’ll have a chardonnay”. Ladies like us have to be careful not to go overboard, but instead add animal as an accent. Also, just carrying a leopard print bag — or just wearing a very classic leopard pump, but not both — (for the love all things holy, NOT BOTH) is the great way for the style-timid to try something wild.

A minimal silhouette in good materials such as the clutch below (which I got at Chico’s the first and only time I ever shopped there) should do the trick …

In the past few years leopard print has moved from kicky print on the edge of tacky to iconic neutral. Chico's leather and and leopard print pouch, $99.
In the past few years leopard print has moved from kicky print on the edge of tacky to iconic neutral. Chico’s leather and and leopard print pouch, $99.

More animal print clutches …

Zara Printed leather clutch, $99.90 

If you’re a bohemian at heart:

The boho look has much to recommend it: fun, floaty, forgiving silhouettes, a casual chicness perfect for the SoCal climate; it’s a look that says you don’t try too hard, you’re just chill. But … also, the jeans short and floaty kimono with leather booties is tad young for a grown woman (as well as kind of played out here in O.C.).

And, say, you’re boho but you can no longer in all good conscience go out in shorts, opting for a maxi with chunky organic jewelry has it’s own pitfalls. For one, you risk looking like grandmother Tippy Toes (as my mom would say) in voluminous long skirt and flats because no one does boho in heels.   As we get older, or rather, wiser, shouldn’t we aim to also be more sophisticated and not so much Stevie Nicks?

 

One solution? Wear your fave, worn boyfriend jeans (no holes please, I hate that look. Holes in jeans are fine for struggling, just- getting-started-in-life 20-somethings but by 40 you can afford to buy new jeans before the knees go out) low-heeled booties, a soft-as-you-please v-neck tee, classic-cut blazer and a bag like this  …

Woven and beaded fringed Neli clutch, $56 at Luna B in Huntington Beach.
Woven and beaded fringed Neli clutch, $56 at Luna B in Huntington Beach.

Other Boho options …

H&M Faux fur clutch, $35.95

If your style is quirky gamine:

Being a gamine, pixie dream-girl is only for the young.

Sorry, ladies, but even Zoey Deschanel isn’t trying to pull that off anymore and the original “gamine”, Audrey Hepburn (pause to reflect on the meaning of Audrey’s style) aged out gracefully while maintaining that sparkling look. In fact, if you think about it, her most famous character, Holy Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) wore fairly classic items: LBD, belted trench, kitten heels … It was only her accessories that were quirky: Tiara, eyelashed sleeping mask,  cat eye sunglasses (for modern reference see Karen Walker’s line) and a top-knot bun. (Her home decor was quirkier: suitcases as end tables, a bathtub as a couch, zebra rug).

So if you still grave a bit of wit and whimsy, try a bag that makes a statement (it’s also a good replacement for the ironic graphic t-shirt which really should be reserved for youngsters) …

Bam Forever "Faster Better and Stronger" denim pouch, $25 at Miel in OC Mix, Costa Mesa.
Bam Forever “Faster Better and Stronger” denim pouch, $25 at Miel in OC Mix, Costa Mesa.

Other quirky girl options include these adorable clutches from Rebecca Minkoff and Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom …

Rebecca Minkoff floral "Leo" envelope clutch, $98 at Nordstrom
Rebecca Minkoff floral “Leo” envelope clutch, $98 at Nordstrom
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Bestsey Johnson cat clutch, $58 at Nordstrom

 

 

 

 

Paris Fashion Week Street Style recreated

 It has always been my opinion that the ONLY REAL “Street Style” happens outside the runways of Paris, London, New York and Milan. I can spend hours looking at and dreaming about recreating looks that capture my attention.The set below was inspired by this look: Red, White and Blue in Paris.

 I try to find items in a reasonable price range that approximate the outfit I am lusting after, in this case a lady-like ensemble in one of my favorite color mixes: Crayon!
Paris Fashion Week Street Style recreated
Whenever I see cobalt or bright red (or even green and yellow) I want to pair them with other primaries to create a cheery outfit. But the key to avoiding looking like a pre-schooler is to keep the shape of the individual items clean and simple and sophisticated.
Thus the boxy top, slim skirt, rounded jacket and sharp-edged shoes in color-wheel bright hues still look grown up.
In this outfit I love how the crisp white skirt grounds bright blue and red accessories and how the black accents make the colors pop.  Plus, the balance of shapes and styles in this particular look add a layer of sophistication: the sporty bomber jacket plays nicely against the very classic-sexy silhouette of the pencil skirt; the chunky watch offsets the ladylike vibe and tasseled necklace adds a bit of exotica.
And lets be real, I love nothing better than a pointed-toe pump and a great big clutch; as far as I’m concerned adding a clutch and pump to any outfit immediately ups the style quotient.
Ciao for now!

Sometimes life calls for a flat shoe

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Among my friends I am known for my love of high high heels. I could write sonnets about the profile of a pointed toe pump – the graceful curve of its arch juxtaposed against the spike of its heel is as magical to me as any work of art.

But, let’s face it, now that I am exploring a life outside of corporate journalism the opportunities to bust out the Manolos for an average work day are few and far between. (That does not mean I might not occasionally blog from home in sweats and heels — I might. I have a pair of B. Brian Atwood red pointed toe pumps that have not been properly broken in after all).

Also, a lot of my “work” these days requires me to run around from place to place while still looking stylish — hard to do in 80 degree heat and stilettos.

But, as I have mentioned before, I am pretty lucky and right now one of my other favorite shoe trends (besides ladylike, ultra-femme heels) is having a major moment: ugly, mannish looking shoes.

Birkenstocks, Nike shower slides, slip-on sneakers, masculine loafers … I cannot get enough …

Metallic loafers Gold BirksLeopard sneaks

What I love the most about the array of funky flat shoe offerings is that you can wear them with so many things:  my metallic Birkenstocks (get em here and other places, but act quick because they are selling out) go with dresses; circle, skater, or pleated skirts; shorts, jeans and maxis – pretty much my summer staples. The metallic Kenneth Cole  loafers (on sale here) class up a pair of rolled boyfriend jeans and ground a floaty summer dress. But the leopard print slip-on sneaks (Sam Edelman “Becker” slip ons) go with everything and make it so easy to look stylish and cool (even fashion-y) no matter what I put on.

And there is something especially stylish about working a clunky shoe against a girly or classic outfit.

For instance a body skimming dress, with a clutch and feminine jewelry worn with metallic Birkenstocks looks especially fresh. And what about an all-white suit (trend alert!) with a cartoon Tee and hot pink Nike slides? How’s that for comfy awesome style?

summerflat

 

Want more? Shop it here:

Ciao for now

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New Shoes

There is nothing more exciting than a pair of new shoes — especially if those shoes might take you in a new direction.

The first step is always the scariest (except for the step you take right off a cliff when you leave a beloved career with an uncertain future) because you don’t know if you will be able to follow the path all the way to the end but you have hope. Hope that your new shoes carry you to where you wanna be, hope that you will not stumble and fall along the way (spoiler: YOU WILL), hope that you won’t get lost (Yeah, that’ll probably happen too).

In my case the first step is this website and blog which I will dedicate to my love of fashion, beauty and, well, style.

Check back here for daily fashion fodder, shopping tips and the occasional rant about how much I loathe “Festival Wear”.

Right now I am walking toward an unknown future in a pair of sky-high stilettos that could break my ankle if I fell. Lucky for me I have always been good at walking in heels and I like the view I am walking toward.

The Road Ahead