Holiday Dresses

When I was little one of my favorite things about the holiday season was my holiday dress. My mom would spurlge and usually I would pick out the prettiest dress I could find. I loved showing it off at church or family holiday parties, or yes, even when I was little I would wear my party dresses everywhere (school, errands with my mom). Nothing about this story is shocking, and not much has changed.

I still love getting and wearing holiday dresses- the choosing of one, the wearing of one, the showing off of one. Even when we’ve been inside with the pandemic. Even when I have no parties or events to attend.

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why I love party dresses so much (see here and here for starters), and when it specifically comes to HOLIDAY party dresses I think I can finally articulate what it is that I love so much. Yes, it’s the hope. But for me- the holiday dress is how I know it’s finally the season. I do love a great party dress, but if I’m honest, I can get away with wearing sweats or my workout clothes, or chic lounge wear (WFH is a blessing and curse). So, for me, I think part of the appeal of a party dress- especially a HOLIDAY dress- is that they mean something. They represent our hopes and joys, they make things EVENTS, they mark my days.

I’m still into getting holiday dresses. And showing them off. This year I have a few more to share with you, and I’m so excited about them. Then in the new year? New goals- and more party dresses. I am who I am.
In the meantime, I’ve linked my current favorite holiday dresses.

Again, I would love to know any and all takes you have about holiday dresses, party dresses and the like- what you’re wearing, what you’re buying, and what you’re loving!
Xo RA

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Holiday Dressing

We know that I love a good party dress- I’ve never met one I didn’t like! So as we move into the holiday season, I’m beginning to think about holiday dressing. What does it really meant to dress holidays? Why does it bring me so much joy? What is needed to dress joyfully- because I know it’s not just holiday dresses? And if you don’t necessarily need a holiday dress (or even a holiday suit or jumpsuit), what do you need for holiday dressing?

We’re going to be chatting about it all season. To start, an overview of my holiday dress collection (this is just a fraction!) and an overview of holiday dressing!

What does holiday dressing meant to you? Below I’m linking some dresses that I’m loving this holiday season!

Xo RA

Note: this post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Fashion Stories: Her Mom’s Dress

Investment Piece: Her Mom's Dress
Investment Piece: Her Mom's Dress
Investment Piece: her Mom's Dress
Investment Piece: Her Mom's Dress

As someone who is just fascinated by the stories we tell with our fashion, the things we keep, the ones we let go of, and the stories the get told after we’re gone- it’s always a honor when someone gifts me a special fashion item.

This dress is chic enough on its own: the way you can wear it on or off the shoulder. With or without a belt. With almost any shoe, heel, boots, even sneakers. The tassel tie. It’s a vintage Arpeja-California, under the label Young Edwardian. Known for their styles influenced by 1960s British boutique fashion, retro trends, and focusing on youth and trend-oriented clothing, one of my favorite things about the brand is that its ads featured Lynda Carter.

If Wonder Woman likes it, it has to be fantastic!
Investment Piece: Her Mom's Dress
DInvestment Piece: her Mom's dress

I’ve worn this dress to a neighborhood party. To run errands. And to meet a friend for lunch.

But what makes this dress so incredibly special to me? It’s from one of my dearest, bestest friend’s mom. That would be so kind on its own, but not only did my friend’s mom pass down the dress, she passed down her story of it. My friend’s mom wore this number to a wedding in the 1970s. It made her feel magic and sparkly, and she hung onto until this summer when it was gifted to me- to make more magic in it.

To be trusted with that, to be given the chance to carry on someone’s fashion story? It’s much more than a dress (which I love), it’s a honor. I only hope to give this dress all the stories it deserves.

Investment Piece: Her Mom's Dress

What thing has been passed down to you? How are you carrying on its fashion story?
I would love to hear all about it!
Xo RA

Fashion Halloween: A Look Back

I LOVE Halloween. And I LOVE costumes! Maybe it’s the actress in me, but especially with fashion Halloween, I love thinking about a character, getting an outfit together, and getting to be someone for a night!

Full confession: by Halloween night I’m usually in this:

Investment Piece: I put a spell on you

On the couch watching “Hocus Pocus”. But I still love playing dress up throughout the month.  Last year, I did 2 looks for Fashion Halloween:

Investment Piece: Fashion Halloween

A Mrs. Maisel from the first season

Investment Piece: Fashion Halloweend

And a Moira Rose. Yes, both involved pjs (it felt very appro for 2020). This year, as much as I love Halloween, I am not quite sure what to be. Of course, it would be so easy to be a witch or a queen (things I’ve avoided because it seems so obvious). I have a few flapper dresses (and authentic 1920 pieces), so it’s tempting to do a 1920s “roaring” theme- but I wear those clothes all the time so it feels odd to now call them a costume.  Since my favorite movie of the season is “Hocus Pocus”, it might be fun to dress as the Sanderson Sisters (but that involves getting 2 more friends in on it).

 

In sum, I’m a bit at a loss for what to be this year – I love coming up with glam costumes that not only seem high fashion but are great ideas for Halloween. I would love to get some input- anything you’ve been dying for me to try? What comes to mind when I say Fashion Halloween? Any ideas?

Do you know what you’re being for Halloween yet?
Xo RA

Fashion Stories: End of Summer

Investment Piece: Summer Mood

At the beginning of every season I get so excited about all the outfits to come. I plan so many things that I want to wear, I sometimes even get over zealous in thinking about all the things I want to wear. Then-especially in the past two years- life happens and all the outfits sometimes don’t end up happening. We change seasons, I get excited about the next one and the end of the season sometimes goes without me properly enjoying all those outfits.

This year. While I am looking forward to fall, I’m determined to enjoy the end of summer. End of summer will be full of great plans and greater outfits. I’m spending a day or so looking at outfits from summers (and summers past) thinking and planning out what I want my end of summer to look like.

Investment Piece: Surprise Ending

Should I make sure to wear all my vintage swim?

Investment Piece: Don't go in the Water

Get in my fave summer shirt more than once? Maybe with white jeans?

Investment Piece: Ruffles and Stripes

Pull out all the straw acessories and the one of my most perfect summer dresses?

Investment Piece: Summer Version
Spend some time in my summer robe (I only wear as a dress)?

Investment Piece: Diving In
Swim sweater?

Investment Piece: End of Sumer
Spend the end of summer in the best caftan?

Investment Piece: How to Blow Out Summer
Wear all white?

Investment Piece: Days in LA

Wear all my bikini tops as tops?

Investment Piece: Summer's Greatest Hits
More crochet?

Investment Piece: End of Summer
Blazers with shorts?

This summer I attempted not to have too plans (I was worried about them not being fulfilled). But I did want to wear all the sundresses, all the swimsuits, and all the white sets. I haven’t worn everything that I wanted to yet, but I figure I still have a bit of time till the true end of summer is here. What did you want to wear this summer? What have you worn? What do you need to still wear? I’m still making my list and would love your I put- and of course I will share what I end up wearing!

Xo RA

Fashion Stories: Comfort

Can I tell you a secret? There are times, as we move out of the pandemic, when I think that I’ve forgotten how to wear clothes. Not making outfits- but the muscle memory of how clothes fit, how they stretch out over a day,and move with us. It’s been a little uncomfortable. But instead of freaking out about it, I’ve being trying to embrace this in between as a time when we get to explore- see what style we love, what feels good, and what stories we want to tell. Let’s chat about it!

I would love to know: what are you wearing? What are you comfortable in? Has it changed? How are you dealing with this in between we’re dealing with?

Xo RA

Wine and Packing

Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

Last week, I went on a short trip with my family. It was lovely to get away for a bit!

**This was my first time traveling during the pandemic, and in all honesty, I wasn’t sure how I would handle my pandemic-anxiety. While there were times when I worried about crowd size and mask wearing, over all I was at ease and comfortable the whole time. It can be done!

It also didn’t hurt that we had a great time!

We drank some wine:
Investment Piece: Wine and Packing
Went to the National Museum of the Pacific War (a lot of info but really worth your time):
Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

There was even a castle:
Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

Truly a wonderful time and I’m so grateful to have been able to spend time with my family.

However, a trip always means packing. And I am an overpacker. Even going to the gym I take extra shoes and options. I can’t help it. But this time, I was determined to pack thoughtfully and intentionally.

How did my packing hold up? Ok-ish. There were times on the trip that I felt like I brought the completely wrong shoes.

Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

Instead of the pink shirt I had planned to wear with this skirt, I wore this white tank top instead. The elastic of the top and skirt just laid weird together. But I ended up loving this top- even with my pink pants!

Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

I ended up throwing in a dress, which was the right call! I wore it to wineries and our one “nice dinner” the second day we were gone.

Investment Piece: Wine and Packing

The only things I didn’t wear? My extra shirts. Travel is so amazing, but I can rethink everything I wore- for me it can really be difficult when I have limited options. However. I LOVED what I took, and I loved the outfits I came up with.

May every bag you pack be as gentle with you!
Xo RA

Fashion Stories: Grief

Investment Piece: Grief

My family has an old cat (21! Which is over 100 in cat!) I never considered myself a cat person, but this nugget wormed her way into my heart and was there for me a lot- that story could be a whole other blog. Starting last week, she began to decline and I’ve spent my time balancing work and being her nurse- including staying up late and watching her. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Grief is a wild and woolly thing. Grieving someone (or a pet) before, or as, they pass is also wild. This experience has made me think a lot about grief- how we deal with it, how we talk to other people about it, and how we dress for it.

About 5 years ago, I went through a 2 month period where both of my grandma’s passed, as well as an uncle. Funerals, wakes, various services- I became a pro at planning them, attending them, dressing for them (in hose, as that’s what my Mimi would have wanted from me). Black dresses and suits, nothing flashy, I even had mourning hats with veils. In some ways, that was the easy dressing part. If you see someone like that, you assume that they may be in the throws of grief (or literally at a funeral) and we tend to be compassionate to greiving people.

But what about when you’re not at a funeral? What do you wear to grieve when you’re at the grocery store or at a bedside or just so tired from loss that life seems hard?

Investment Piece: Grief

Societies, communities, all of us, have rituals to deal with grief. Widows used to wear black for over a year. In some communities you still refrain from certain things while you’re in mourning. However, there is not a universal way to mourn. And black is not exclusively for mourning- some cultures wear white for grief, others purple. And I wear all the colors all the time (and a lot of black a lot). On top of that, this year and the pandemic has been hard and full of loss for everyone’ and not being able to be together has often made the grieving process much more difficult. If there is nothing that can universally let people know you’re grieving, what do you wear?

Right now, I’m living in some version of sweat pants. I’ve been up late, and on and off, nights, need clothes that can get dirty and be cleaned easily. My hair is pulled up. My eyes are puffy (maybe that’s the tell). If I saw someone dressed like me at the grocery store, I would assume that they were going through something. But the thing is- I have a shoot and 2 video calls in the next few days. I’ll de puff (yes, hemroid cream helps! It’s an old make up trick!) and clean up and hopefully no one will know how sad I am.

If dressing for our grief is an outward processing of it, or at the very least showing people your grief; does it mean something when you don’t dress for your grief?

Investment Piece: Grief

I don’t know that there’s one answer to these questions. Grief and our fashion choices are personal. So personal. Some of us don’t like to share any thing about our grief, others over share to strangers. Would you want everyone to know you’re grieving by your fashion choices? Or not. There are times, even this week, that I wish that there was a little signal I could send out to explain to people that I’m not operating at my best as I’m grieving. Yet, I don’t know that I want to share it with everyone and be questioned or judged if I choose to dress in a “happy” way. Again, grief is wild and woolly.

I also want to reconginze that not all grief dressing (if that’s what we call it) is somber and black. Joy and the good memories are part of grief too. I have quite a few pieces that were handed down to me by my grandmas, every time I wear them (or an outfit they would like) I feel as if I’m honoring them. My kitty? Will probably make it on a sweater or necklace (in one of those pet collections that so many brands have), and when I wear it I’ll remember how lucky I was to love her. Wearing special or happy things that remind me of people and places I’ve lost are a way to honor them, just like wearing black.

Thinking about grief and what to wear for it can lead you down such odd paths. There’s no right answer and as we’re all carrying some form of loss (especially after this year). Perhaps we should assume that we’re all grieving a bit (no matter what we’re wearing) and be extra gentle with each other. What do you think?

Have any tips for grief? What do you wear?
Xo RA

Fashion Stories: Pandemic Dressing

Investment Piece: Pandemic Dressing

I’ve been thinking about how we’re all dressing during the Pandemic. And what we’re buying. There are days when I don’t get dressed- but I still have a ton of party dresses on my Wishlist. What is your pandemic waredrobe saying about you? I’m not 100% what I’m saying with mine, but I’m also not sure I’m done changing my mind about what to wear right now!

While going through magazines, I stumbled upon an article by Sally Singer in Departures Magazine (Linked here and copied below!) I loved her POV on our pandemic clothing choices, and the story her choices told. I hope that you love the article as much as I did. I would love to know: what is your pandemic wardrobe?

Xo RA


An Ode to One Style Expert’s Pandemic Wardrobe

A fashion veteran on why your personal style matters, no matter who sees it.
By Sally Singer on September 03, 2020

In the days before New York issued the stay-at-home order to combat COVID-19, I received my spring wardrobe in the mail. These were the few pieces that I had selected and paid for months prior with the idea that they would form the sartorial framework of my life for mid-2020 and beyond. I had high hopes for these items and for the adventures we would get up to together. Call it wacky, call it overdetermined, but I see fashion as both utilitarian and fantastical: something that gets me through the day while also providing a magic carpet ride.

I don’t think I am alone in this. We all make our style purchases with tender emotion and expectations, invest our frocks and jeans and T-shirts with a pocketful of dreams. The jacket that will seal the deal, the caftan for the perfect getaway. When you buy new running shoes, don’t you see yourself…running?

I had envisioned myself wearing this: a strapless taffeta dress from Molly Goddard with a billowy, tulip-shaped skirt; the most elegant white silk T-shirt and satin-and-horsehair skirt by Zanini, all massive proportions and luxurious fabrics; and a crisp raincoat, also by Zanini, cut full to give it slouch without schlump. I had imagined chic dinner dates in my Goddard, that perfect high strapless line so lovely for the table. The white ensemble was an ingenious solve for the Met Gala, the theme for 2020 being timelessness in fashion: What is more timeless than a white T-shirt, even one scaled to house Mother Ginger and all her charges? And the raincoat? That was for dashing to meetings in inclement weather, a vision of industrious glamour. The best laid plans. These items have hung in my closet ever since, loved (for sure) but unworn: no dinner dates, no Met Gala, no meetings that involve anything more than the kitchen table and solid Wi-Fi.

Instead my early pandemic wardrobe resembled a version of what I would imagine many of us wore while we stayed home, a little downbeat (faded jeans, sweatshirts), a touch sporty (track pants), a smidgen Zoom-worthy (crisp blue oxfords). I have heard that online sales were up for fabulous tops and jewelry, new essentials for FaceTime courting. Not for me that trend, but I admire the pure optimism and ingenuity that has created a new normal out of wearing, say, a Johanna Ortiz ruffled bustier up top and saggy boxers below. Bare feet, boy shorts, and fully beaded Saint Laurent? Why not? Online dating in the midst of a world health crisis is a hopeful business. Why not dress like a child’s match-it-or-clash- it card game?

By late spring my new normal involved a loose, high-water pant and a short- sleeved, button-front men’s shirt. I wore Tevas and metallic FitFlops, and sometimes paired my dorky sandals with tube socks to cover non-pedicured toes. It wasn’t obvious to me at first, but I came to realize that I was dressing exactly like my memories of my father, a man whose personal style had been cemented in the early 1960s and never wavered. I even took to wearing a T-shirt under my button- downs, a habit of his that had caused me such embarrassment in the 1970s when other “cool” dads were living loose, without visible underpinnings.

There is a tendency to think that when we “slob out,” when no one is watching or judging, there is little going on except comfort, convenience, necessity. Not so. All of our choices are meaningful, and I would argue that the ones we make in private bring us closer to ourselves. I did not consciously set out to dress like my dad, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense: I spent my childhood watching him steer our family through highly precarious times. His demeanor throughout was one of unfussy modesty, a person fiercely committed to humanity, and to disarmament, almost oblivious to vanity. Who better to guide me this summer?

And who or what informed your choices? If you spent months wearing only yoga pants and a funny T-shirt, ask yourself: Why those yoga pants? Why that T-shirt? Why and how did they comfort you, or calm your anxieties, through these extraordinary times?

As I write, New York is emerging from its tragic slumber. There can be meetings and dinners, if not (yet) charity balls. I don’t know exactly who I want to be in this moment, but I want to retain a bit of the person that emerged while I was away from the public eye. There aren’t going to be big evenings for some time, and probably not many large dinner parties to preside over either, so my many long dresses will need to be recycled, upcycled, or cycled out. As for the Goddard, I hope to debut it barefoot, in my apartment, cooking dinner for some-one special. It’s too precious and too bare to be seen first at lunch alfresco, except perhaps on the Amalfi Coast in a post-mask era. It demands romance. And as for the snowy Zanini ensemble? I hope that sometime soon I will be able to fly to London and once again walk through an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, taking up lots of space in horsehair, satin, and silk—not the Met Gala, but special and glamorous nonetheless.

Investment Piece: Diving In

To all the things I’m wearing now, and all the outfits to come- I can’t wait to share them with you! Xo RA

Fashion Stories: Street Style

One thing I really miss in this pandemic time? Street Fashion- both seeing what people are wearing and seeing how people react to what I’m wearing. It’s fashion month again, though this year it’s different. Most presentations are online and open to everyone. Are you watching? I find myself watching some but not all, and of course it always depends on how many zooms I’ve had that day. But I still miss the street style. And since there’s no way to get to see some now, I’m looking back at last year’s street style.
Do you love street style? Getting dressed up yourself? Maybe we could put our own twists on these outfits and walk around in the backyard?
Xo RA

We are in the middle of fashion month: NY, London, Milan, Paris. And maybe that’s not something you really care about, maybe it is. Personally? I love looking at what’s to come. What I love more? The street style. With every fashion week, there are scores of pictures of the people who attend, the people walking the streets, the non-models. Their outfits run from classic to out-there, and for me, provide an endless inspiration. I love “getting to know” these people through the stories they tell with their outfits. From what they wear I can imagine who they are, what they do, and where they shop. As someone who can plan outfits out for weeks, I love seeing people get celebrated for that. (I also love stealing ideas from them).

Below are some of my favorite Street Stlye shots from this fashion month. Let me know: what stories do you see here? What do you want to recreate? Are you an outfit planner? If you knew you were going to be photographed walking somewhere, what would you wear?

I’m fascinated by the stories our fashion tells. What about you?
Xo RA

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