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Get the Bumble Bee Brooch Allison Wore on Tonight’s Mad Men

8 Aug

Did you notice Allison’s big bumble bee brooch on tonight’s “The Good News” episode of Mad Men? What a statement piece.

I thought it was pretty witty of Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant to place it on Allison, who, after last week’s episode, realized her place as a mere worker bee, not a Queen bee, in Don’s eyes.

In any case, if you’re interested in a statement piece like the one on Mad Men, I’ve found a replica, as well as a few similar brooches:

This vintage brooch is identical to the one Allison wears in tonight’s “The Good News” episode, and is available for only $15 plus shipping. The bee hangs from a bow, giving it a very feminine feel. I love the detailing of the piece, especially the grooves in the wings.

Here’s another vintage bumble bee brooch, dated to the 1960s:
This bee doesn’t hang from a bar or a bow (like Allison’s does), but is similar in its size, detailing, and gold tone. You can get it for $21 plus shipping. An interesting feature of this brooch is its “spring wings” which means that the wings will flutter a bit when you move.

If you’re petite and looking for a smaller version, check out this vintage piece that still has great details but is only 1 inch by 1 inch:
This one is a great deal and is available on Etsy for only $8.

Here’s another affordable piece from Etsy–this one vintage-inspired, rather than actually a vintage piece:

I like the brass tone of this piece–it’s a nice alternative if you’re looking for a bumble bee piece, but you aren’t a big gold person.

Finally, I think this one might be my favorite. I love the different textures and colors of this brooch, especially the sparkle of the white Swarovski crystals against the 24k gold of the wings. Because of the materials, this one is a little pricier, but you can get it 50% off on Amazon for $30.50.

Beside Allison’s big bumble bee, we saw Joan wearing a great gold flower brooch. I really hope that Mad Men helps bring brooches back in style. They’re great pieces to add to your jewelry collection because they’re so versatile. Here are a couple of ways you can incorporate brooches into your wardrobe:

  • Add some sparkle or color to a simple black sweater
  • Place on the lapel of a suit jacket to give plain work-wear some personality
  • Use a brooch to give a shapeless winter jacket a point of focus
  • Add to a knit hat or scarf to make your functional winter wardrobe more stylish
  • Attach smaller brooches to a simple head band and you’ve got a great hair accessory
  • Personalize a cross-body purse by pinning a brooch to the strap
  • Accentuate your shape by adding a brooch to a beautiful ribbon and tying around your waist

How do you wear brooches? Share your ideas with us!

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Spoiled Rotten at My Sister’s Closet Consignment Stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul

5 Aug

As a grad student on a tight budget, I wear my shoes until they die. Until they choke, foam at the mouth, and, tongue sticking out, die (did you catch that pun in there?–good stuff).

Cruel, you say? Perhaps. It’s true that not many women have the stomach to wear their shoes this seriously. Well, I’m here to tell anyone who can’t finish the job, I’m more than happy to finish it for you. Anyone else with enough guts to join me, head over to My Sister’s Closet Consignment Store (in Minneapolis or St. Paul). There are plenty of high-end designer and vintage shoes–in mint or near-mint condition–who need someone to love them to death. If you need extra motivation, MSC’s Summer Clearance Sale is going on right now (through next Monday), which means that every item in the store is 50% off! That’s what brought my mom, aunt and I into MSC this afternoon where we found some amazing deals on designer shoes.

MSC's St. Paul location, at 1136 Grand Avenue

First, a bit about the store. My Sister’s Closet has two locations in the Twin Cities–one in St. Paul on Grand, and one in Minneapolis on Hennepin. They offer high quality clothing, shoes, and accessories–both vintage clothing and current designer brands–without the expensive prices.

We visited the St. Paul location today and were impressed by their diverse collection and the number of well-dressed, bargain-hunting women looking around the two-story store. Their ground level  is devoted to contemporary clothing–you’ll find lots of items from staple brands like JCrew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor–as well as discounted high-end designer items. For example, we saw cute designer handbags in great condition (and each for $70 or less) from Coach, Gucci, and Prada.

I love to mix and match vintage and contemporary pieces, like this vintage '60s dress and contemporary Banana Republic cardigan (both items at My Sister's Closet). All you need now is a cute belt and, of course, some shoes!

Look for a spectacular selection of vintage items on MSC’s second floor. We saw several beautiful ’60s dresses, many with recognizable name-brands. One dress had a tag that read “The Dayton Oval Room,” which, as all Twin Cities gals will understand, really took me back (Oh, Daytons. You are dearly missed).  There were also a few wedding gowns, so if you’re a bride on a budget, be sure to check this place out.

Sigh. If only Dayton's was still around...

Now, on to our booty. I may have walked out with far too many items to mention here. But, the highlight of our bargain-hunting was two amazing pairs of designer shoes. The first is a classic pair of Ferragamo “Vara” heels in a deep navy suede:

I love the signature Ferragamo Vara bow and buckle. If you want to put money on one item in your wardrobe that'll still be in style a decade from now, these shoes are a sure bet.

Ferragamo has been issuing versions of the Vara Pump season after season since it was first created by Ferragamo’s eldest daughter, Fiamma, in 1978. As a kid, I remember admiring my grandma’s favorite pair–a vivid cranberry that looked so regal with the brass Ferragamo hardware. In case you’re wondering, the Fall 2010 collection features a black leather version:

Ferragamo's Vara shoes, Fall 2010. Same demure heel, same ladylike bow, same ballet inspired shape.

These shoes retail for $395.  But, at My Sister’s Closet you would have seen them listed for $36–already a steal–then, with an additional 50% off all items for MSC’s Summer Clearance, they were $18. All said and done, that’s 95% off!  And you can’t even tell that this pair has been worn. They look even better on my feet, if I do say so myself:

I'll always think of my Grandma when I wear these iconic shoes, and my wonderful mom, who bought them for me.

The second amazing find of the day were these darling peeptoe slingback demi-wedges (that’s a mouthful!) by Miu Miu:
I think the best feature (if you had to pick only one) might be the demi-wedge:

See the little scoop bridge of the demi-wedge? Love this retro touch.

Miu Miu shoes sell for anywhere from $400-$1000+, but this pair was listed at $148 at My Sister’s Closet. Then, the 50% off for the Summer Clearance brought them down to $74. When I mentioned how much I loved them my bea-u-tiful and generous Aunt Jacqueline insisted on buying them for me (ok, ok, I confess, she didn’t have to insist too much). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Dear mom and Jacqueline, you’ve made a poor grad student’s fashion dream come true.  The Vara pumps will accompany me on every interview I do this year (and hopefully give me the poise and eloquence of my mom, aunt and grandma!) and the Miu Miu pumps will accompany me every other minute of the day, even to bed. Kidding, kidding. But I do love them that much, and for starters, they will go perfectly with the dress I’ve been planning on wearing to an upcoming Bar Mitzvah on Labor Day weekend.

To the women who gave up these shoes up for consignment–without ever wearing them, it seems–I thank you. May the consignment shopping good karma that you deserve come to you soon!  In the meantime, rest assured that your Ferragamos and  Miu Miu’s have found a happy forever home.

And to the rest of you reading this who live in the Twin Cities, I’m confident there’s a Happily-Ever-After Shoe Story waiting for you, too, at My Sister’s Closet. If you get a chance to check them out, check back with Good Taste and let us know what you find!

On the Jedi Mind-Tricks of Luxury Leather Goods–and the Luxury Man-Purse–all brought to you by Coach

13 Jul

Like many people, my little brother John is looking for a job. He’s a recent college grad, he’s going to lots of interviews, and he’s trying to use all the tips, tricks, and voodoo that he can to get hired. In the past few weeks John’s revised and re-revised his resume, and he’s polished his interviewing skills. He’s more than qualified. But he needs to stand out–in any way he can–from other candidates. This calls for some Jedi mind trickery.

If you ask me, there are few things that can perform Jedi mind-tricks on people better than luxury leather goods. Think about it. When you see a woman with an iconic Hermès Birkin Bag, what happens? You immediately know things about her–like, she’s wealthy. She’s successful. She’s X (insert powerful adjective here). This is what I mean by Jedi mind-tricks.

Who would ever think that saltwater crocodile or goat skins should symbolize status, wealth, and success.

So, I’m on a mission. John needs a wallet and a briefcase, and he needs them to say, “You know you want to hire me.” This is how I suddenly find myself on Coach.com.

Why would I look at Coach, you ask–aren’t they just for women? Well, not anymore. Coach’s most recent step in taking over the world is Coach for Men, their first men’s-only store located at 370 Bleeker Street in New York City’s West Village, which opened late this spring. If you can’t make it to the store check out their website, which offers store exclusives.

I found myself drawn to this little beauty, called a “Transatlantic Flap Business Brief.” Doesn’t this bag make the mannequin look like a top-notch job candidate? That’s what $498 will buy you.

I like the versatile carrying options this one offers–and I think Coach is smart to style it on the mannequin in the fashion of a messenger bag–it’s very “Young Professional.” However, the hardware and the distinguished look of the flap keep the bag from being overly youthful.

Looking for a less expensive option, I stumbled upon this one–called a “Bedford Portfolio Envelope”–it’s a hundred dollars less at $398.

What’s nice about this choice is that it has a business card holder and credit card slots inside, which might eliminate the professional requirements that call for a new wallet, in addition to a new briefcase. But, I’m afraid that as far as my brother’s tastes are concerned, our Bedford Envelope friend may tread in dangerous “man-purse” waters. It does somewhat resemble a giant clutch. So, even though there’s lots about this choice that I like, I’ll leave him for another, more fashion forward man.

You may be wondering, where is the line between a business brief and man-purse? Well, if you’re a man shopping at Coach, the line is somewhere between the Bedford Envelope and this option:

This is called a “Coach Op Art Leather Medium Business Tote,” and goes for $498. The detailing on this bag definitely gives it more personality than the standard brief case. I like the signature Coach “c” pattern, the glovetan leather trim, and of course the efficient, all-purpose tote shape. I would definitely use this at work–but, I’m a woman. I imagine this bag isn’t for every guy–it’s more likely to appeal to a man with sophisticated taste who many already have brand-loyalty to Coach.

Even if you’re not a fan of Coach’s man-purse, I think there’s a lot to appreciate in their new expanded men’s line. Besides luxury leather goods, other products offered range from footwear to outerwear, watches, fragrance and special pieces, like a dog collar for Man’s best friend.  And, since we’re talking about business “accessories” here, it seems appropriate to mention that Coach for Men can only benefit Coach’s business model–in other words, (sorry, I can’t help myself) the expanded men’s line is certainly expanding Coach’s bottom line.

In fact, according to Morningstar, an independent investment research company, Coach’s diversification into new market segments like Men’s luxury goods will fuel the company’s growth in the next 5 years. To be specific, Morningstar estimates Coach will grow 16% in the next 5 years. Let’s put this into context–Morningstar estimates that the Luxury Goods Industry itself, over the same 5 year period, will grow only 13.7%, while the S&P 500 will grow 10.7%.

Next 5 Years’ Estimated Growth% Forward P/E PEG Ratio
Stock 16.0 14.2 0.9
Industry 13.7
S&P 500 10.7

data taken from Morningstar, Inc. Quicktake report generated 7-12-10 for Coach stock (COH)

So, long story short: I’m going to advise John to invest in a good briefcase–his professional wardrobe will thank him later. Meanwhile, I’m going to invest in Coach’s stock!

Accessory Trend Alert seen in Eclipse: Moonstones

3 Jul

I admit it!

This Wednesday I saw the new Twilight movie, Eclipse, when it opened. And I have to report it was as-promised: almost two hours of teenage angst, sexual tension, and undying (undead) love.

The audience with me was fantastic. Whenever Jacob appeared without his shirt there were enthusiastic “OW-OW!”s. When Edward promised to love Bella forever, an audible “Awww,” filled the theater. However, best of all, this was followed quickly by someone shouting out “GROSS!” when Edward referred to Bella as “Mrs. Cullen.”  LOVE IT!

Now on to how Twilight relates to this blog. Not sure if anyone else noticed, but Bella’s closet, as far as I saw, comes almost entirely from American Eagle. Whenever she stalked awkwardly and angstily away from first Jacob, then Edward, then Jacob, then Edward, the audience got a great view of AE’s easily recognizable denim sign. What an awesome product placement deal for them to land.

The only other constant feature of Bella’s wardrobe was a an accessory that she wore in almost every scene of the movie–a Moonstone ring:

credit: Eclipse movie

Why Bella, how on-trend you are! Clearly whoever is styling Bella knows that moonstones are poised to be the biggest accessory trend this year. Many top fine jewelry designers included them in their spring 2010 collections, and I suspect that it won’t be long before the trend spreads far enough for Bella to be able to buy a moonstone ring at her beloved American Eagle.

Designers love moonstones for their soft, muted shimmer–moonstones possess a sensual, feminine aura that is earthy and unfussy. There’s also a lot of intriguing mystique and mythology surrounding the stone that gives it a special charm. For example, the moonstone is thought to owe its name to the traditional belief that one could see the crescent and waning phase of the moon contained inside the stone. In India, it’s thought to be a magical “dream stone” with the power to bring the wearer beautiful visions at night. Finally, in Arabic countries women often wear the moonstone hidden in pockets or seams of their garments, as it is thought to increase fertility.

So how can you wear the trend? Here are a couple of examples I love:

a bit of moon just for you

If your pocket is burning with cash and you want to make an investment in a Moonstone piece, chose these Rainbow Moonstone 18-Karat gold earrings from Marie-Hélène de Taillac’s, available on Net-a-Porter.com for $3190. A small acquamarine stone dots the center of each earring, giving it a certain daintiness.

moonstone earrings for $140 by Melissa Joy Manning

A more affordable version are these lovely Rainbow Moonstone earrings by one of my favorite designers, Melissa Joy Manning. The simplicity of the craftsmanship here gives these earrings an attractive, understated elegance; I love the delicate 14 karat gold loops and the faceting of the stone.  Very minimal, and yet ladylike!

ask your vampire (or wolf shape-changer) love of your life to buy you Bella's ring--a steal at $45

If you’re interested in acquiring a ring like Bella’s, check out this hand-made replica available on Etsy for $45.  Part of what makes this piece affordable is the band–it’s sterling silver–but more significantly, the quality and quantity of the stone.

One more Moonstone FYI for all you shoppers out there: be aware of the type of Moonstone you purchase. The Bella replica ring showcases a “regular” or unidentified Moonstone gem, rather than Rainbow Moonstone, as Marie-Hélène de Taillac’s  and Melissa Joy Manning’s pieces does–what’s the difference?  Moonstones come in a variety of colors, but Rainbow Moonstone is the rarest and most valuable variety because it is clear and colorless, giving it a higher quality shine that is more desirable. Good hunting!

Designer to Watch: Melissa Joy Manning

29 Jun

If you’re into the bohemian luxe look, Manning’s jewelry is for you.

Manning makes beautiful and unique pieces using semi-precious and precious stones like geodes, moonstones, druzy, and ocean jasper. Each piece has the feeling of a handcrafted, organic, one of a kind treasure.

You may have noticed Manning’s pieces in In Style’s July 2010 issue this month, featuring Cameron Diaz (check out p. 172-183).  I particularly liked the gold necklace with charms in the look on p. 177, which was photographed by Michaleangelo Di Battista and styled by Rossela Tarabini:

fashion with edge

Unfortunately, Manning doesn’t currently offer this piece on her website (where shipping is free when you spend more than $100), but I’m dreaming about this one, a Jasper Slice Ring in 14k gold for $375:

this is on my wish list

I love that this ring is sweet and playful, yet with a little roughness around the edges. The hand-hammered band has a lovely delicateness to it which is contrasted with the oversized prongs. The variegated colors and textures of the semi-precious stone draws the eye in. Nothing about this piece is straightforward–exactly what I’m looking for in a gorgeous, dramatic statement ring.

DIY Down by the Sea Hair Accesory or Gift

29 Jun

Nothing says summer better than nautical.

There are lots of ways to make waves with this trend, beyond the iconic red or navy striped shirts you see everywhere. For example, I adore these red striped cloth buttons featuring a delicate, tiny brass anchor and teeny tiny bubbles made of faux pearl beads. These darling embellishments set the red stripes at a diagonal, which freshens up the traditionally horizontal look and has an energetic movement that draws in the eye.

darling details

You can buy these on Etsy–$9 for 4 buttons–and the designer will make them to order so you can select a different color and request more or fewer bubbles. I added one button to a simple black Goody ponytail holder but snipping the hairband, threading on the button, then hot gluing the band back together.  Let it dry for 24 hours and it’ll be a fantastic, one of a kind accessory. In a couple of weeks I’m taking a weekend trip to the Cape with my girlfriends and I plan to give one to each of them.  What could be better than the effortless wavy hair you get at the beach? This darling DIY sea-themed hair accessory.

down by the sea