Why Not Try...making New Year's resolutions for your wardrobe?

After about five consecutive years of failed New Years resolutions, always the same ones - join a gym, write more letters, drink less coffee - I'm done. After all, life is far too short to kid ourselves into ridding ourselves out of all our guilty pleasures, no?

I do think there's something to the whole concept of resolutions, however - the idea of starting anew, taking steps towards becoming a better version of oneself, and so on. So rather than boycott the tradition altogether, I've decided to apply it to the one area of my life where I always welcome change and growth - my closet.

Everyone has some bad habits to break when it comes to fashion, and there's no better time than the new year sales to put these sartorial missteps to right. And an added bonus of focusing resolutions on something as frivolous as fashion? At this time next year, I won't be feeling guilty for not quite managing to kick that Marlboro Light habit...

I Resolve...To Think in Technicolor
One of the consequences of living in London and New York for most of my life is that 97% of my wardrobe is in some shade of black or grey. I've always talked myself into thinking these non-colors give me a sense of je ne sais quoi, but seeing all of the jewel-tones and primary colors in stores now has sort of made me feel like the only one dressed in normal clothes at a costume party. So this year, I resolve to only buy black clothes if I also buy something in pop-art color - taxicab yellow, Barney-the-dinosaur purple, sapphire blue - even if it's just a pair of tights or shoes...

Spijkers & Spijkers Silk Pencil Skirt, http://www.ninaandlola.com/

Chris Benz 'Jenna' Top, http://www.netaporter.com/

Karta Jewel Inset Dress, http://www.intermixonline.com/

I Resolve...To Wear Mostly Dresses
I no longer live in a city that is cold and rainy ten months out of the year - therefore, I have no excuse not to kick my skinny jeans and knee-high Frye boot addiction. I mean, really, dresses are so much easier and have so much more character - and they give me yet another excuse to feed my hosiery addiction. Am thinking these are a good place to start (and hey, I didn't say I was giving up black cold-turkey...)

Diane von Furstenburg 'Rhythm Mondrian' Dress, http://www.intermixonline.com/

Hannah Marshall 'Batwing' Dress, http://www.ninaandlola.com/

Twinkle 'Girl's Night' Dress - http://www.elleh.com/

I Resolve...To Only Shop Independents
Shopping at Forever 21 or H&M in a city like LA, where there are thousands of independent boutiques full of personality and charm, is kind of like going to Pastis and ordering toast. I guess you could, but doesn't it defeat the purpose? Enough said.

The Sales, Continued...

Am sure that by now, you've all got my recent guide to the post-Christmas sales taped to your dashboards, addresses dutifully plugged into your TomToms and bank accounts sufficiently depleted. In case you still have a nagging balance to use up on your Visa, I've got another tip for you, perhaps the most exciting one yet.

My all-time favorite midtown shopping destination, Scout (7920 W. Third), has announced a sale on everything in store. There are discounts of up to 50% to be had on pieces from Sonya Rykiel, Arielle de Pinto, Clu and more - and, best of all, if you're a member of their mailing list you're eligible for an extra 10% off.

If you're still undecided as to whether you REALLY need yet another stripey Sonya top, consider this: JC Report has, er, reported that due to the weak dollar, European labels may be hard to come by in the new year, as many retailers report they're cutting back on brands that deal in Euros and Pounds. I don't know about you, but I know what I'll be doing New Year's Eve...



In the middle of packing to visit my parents for a few days, I came to a realization - nothing I was throwing in my suitcase had seen the outside of my closet since I moved to LA. Button-down shirts, cashmere v-necks, my once trusty Paper Denims, all staples of a preppified Northeastern wardrobe that don't quite fit in with the look I've gravitated towards out West.

The more I thought about it, I think I'm a victim of multiple personality disorder when it comes to fashion. Not only do my home clothes work in LA, but neither do most of my London clothes, and vice versa. For instance, this is a typically dull outfit for me when in upstate NY:

And this is one for LA:

And this overaccessorized, all-black ensemble is something I would have worn in London:

Is it just me, or does anyone else not really have a signature personal style, but different styles for different aspects of their lives? I'm not talking about beachy clothes that you only take on vacation, or chunky reindeer sweaters that you reserve for ski trips, but completely separate wardrobes, and maybe even different attitudes to match? I guess I might be a bit more schizophrenic than most, since I've lived all over the place and am jetting back and forth every few months. Either way, am thinking that Shopaholism may have met its match - perhaps I should become the first therapist in sartorial addictions...


Talking Shop: Post Christmas Sales

Right, so I hope my four readers have avoided breakdowns without me over the past few weeks...have working on a big story for Ocean magazine and haven't had much time to think about anything else.

With that said, I hope everyone had a relatively pain-free holiday and that you're ready for what I think is the most exciting thing about this time of year - the post-Christmas sales. I've thrown together an area-by-area guide to markdowns across L.A., so you can plan your strategies for spending those $20's Grandma put in your Christmas card - or, more likely, exchanging that unfortunate pastel pink cardigan from Mom...

Melrose Ave.:
-Creatures of Comfort (7971) : 30-50% off labels like Alexandre Herchcovitch, APC and Karen Walker
-Violet Grace (7021): 40% off labels like Chaiken, Rebecca Taylor, Walter
-Ron Herman (8100):
-Madison (8115): Up to 50% off labels like Matthew Williamson, Diane von Furstenburg, and Anna Sui
-Bird (8428): Up to 75% off clothes and jewelry from Lara Bohinc and Molly Jackson - Best for Jewelry Shopping
-Betsy Johnson (8050): Up to 50% off frothy party dresses

West 3rd. Street:
-Satine (8117): 30-50% off labels like Jenni Kayne, Vanessa Bruno, 3.1 Philip Lim, Thakoon & VPL - Best for New Year's Eve dress shopping
-Hillary Rush (8222 ): 25% off everything in store, including Samantha Treacy and Erin Fetherston
-Petro Zillia (8218): Everything 25% off, including own-label merchandise, Colcci shoes and Wilster frocks
-Polkadots & Moonbeams (8367): Up to 50% off on selected items
-Malgosia ( 8336)): Sale on items from Ranna Gil, Miriam Ocariz, and Rajesh Pratap Singh

Robertson Blvd:
-Lisa Klein (136 S.): Warehouse Sale with up to 70% off labels like Elijah, Paul & Joe, and Manoush
-Kitson (www.shopkitson.com): Web Exclusive Sale, with up to 70% off things like Dolce Vita shoes and Junk Food tees
-Intermix ( 110 N.): Big discounts on Stella McCartney, Norma Kamali, Thread Social, and more

La Brea:
-Bleu (454 S.): Up to 75% off labels like Theory, Boudoir and Generra
-Presse ( 326 S.): 50-60% off labels like Ric Owens, Proenza Schouler and Vena Cava

Beverly Hills:
-Harmony Lane (189 South Beverly): Up to 70% off labels like American Retro, Earnest Sewn and Development
-Saks Fifth Avenue (9600 Wilshire): Up to 70% off labels like Chloe, MaxMara and Dolce & Gabbana - Best for Haute Designer Offerings
-Neiman Marcus ( 9700 Wilshire): Extra 25% off sale items from the likes of Manolo Blahnik, Alexander McQueen and Fendi
-Barney's / Barney's Co-Op (9570 Wilshire): Sale on labels like Graham & Spencer, Marc by Marc, Trovata

Abbot Kinney:
-Brick Lane ( 1132): Up to 50% off labels like Betty Jackson, Nougat and Ted Baker
-A + R (1121): Up to 15% off design-led home & accessories

Santa Monica:
-Blonde (2430 Main): Up to 40% off labels like Cynthia Vincent, Ella Moss, and Kettle Black
-Michael Stars ( 1233 Montana): Up to 40% off cashmere, dresses and tees
-London Sole (1331 Montana): Sale on ballet flats - up to 25%

Orange County:
-Elle H (1833 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach): Up to 75% off fall & holiday merchandise from the likes of Eritokritos, Lauren Moffat, and Eva Franco
-Adele (735 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach): Up to 50% off labels like Rodebjer, Society for Rational Dress, and Ashish N Soni
-Haute Culture (5628 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla): 20-60% off labels like Kara Janx, Odyn, and Julie Haus


One to Watch: Marquis & Camus

My personal philosophy on jewelry is that there's no point in wearing it if it doesn't make a statement. I think I got this from my grandmother, who had a massive collection of costume jewelry - heavy beaded clip-on earrings that would have looked at home on member a remote African tribe; bright pink marbled reading glasses; and as many chunky gold bangles as her wrists could possibly bear.
So perhaps because of this, I am always attracted to jewelry that starts conversations, makes people ask questions - and why I've become a little obsessed with Marquis & Camus, the new collection from New York based jewelry label Potion, Inc. Each piece in the collection is made from bits and pieces of antique jewelry and found objects - everything from keys to pocket watch gears to chandelier crystals.

True, you can walk into just about any Urban Outfitters and find 'vintage inspired' jewelry, but there's something that's so much more authentic about these pieces. Each one has a story behind it, like the earrings above, which look as though they were made from a man's watch strap - you can actually picture a strapping New York banker wearing this to work every day decades ago. And the fact that each piece is limited-edition by nature (as designer Sarah Kang actually picks each object by hand from flea markets and estate sales) means you won't spot another girl at your knitting circle wearing the same thing.
Not surprisingly, Kang cites history as the inspiration for the collection - "our granmothers' necklaces and embroideries, our grandfathers' suspenders" being just a few elements. Even though my grandmother's necklaces were often made from plastic and I'm pretty sure she never touched an embroidery needle in her life, I have a feeling she would have liked these pieces too - simply because they're sure to make people stop and stare.

Euro Invasion: McQueen in LA, Chanel to Robertson

WWD has reported that Alexander McQueen is finally going to be setting up shop in LA next April - and, in my opinion, it's about time. Although his flair for the dramatic does clash slightly with the laid-back West Coast aesthetic, his creations are perfect red carpet material. Here's hoping that his arrival will inject a bit of excitement and controversy back into the Hollywood fashion scene, which has been feeling stale for far too long...

WWD has also announced that Chanel and D&G will be opening outposts on Robertson Blvd. in the coming months. A tabloid favorite, the street's boutiques are constantly being namechecked - here a Nicole Ritchie toting her baby weight in Kitson bags, there a Christina Aguilera buying cashmere diaper covers at Bel Bambini, and over there a Lindsay Lohan stocking up on $200 t-shirts at Lisa Kline. Is a smart strategy in terms of increasing column inches, but it does beg the question - who are these labels trying to appeal to? If it's Us Weekly readers, then great - but the brands might end up losing the interest of clients who value exclusivity and the cache of luxury. That is, if they haven't lost them already...


Fash Bash: Deck the Halls, Skip the Malls

One of the things that surprised me the most upon moving to LA was the area's independent retail scene. I never really expected there to be so many vibrant little boutiques, selling so many interesting things and attempting to re-define the boundaries of art, fashion, music, commerce, etc.
Which is why I was so startled to read in the LA Times last weekend that several of the most pioneering on the scene have recently made the decision to shut down. Iconology, Filly and Lily Savitch have all shut their doors this year, citing the major department stores' shift towards avant-garde fashion offerings (think Barney's Co-Op) - not to mention their ability to offer deep discounts in an economy where people are wary of spending - as a major factor.

For anyone here who's at all interested in fashion, this is seriously disheartening news. More so than even local designers, retailers like Iconology et. al. are one of the main reasons why LA has gained so much credibility as a fashion destination over the past several years. Without them, the city wouldn't be much different from any other large, yet uninspiring one across the country.

So, with that in mind, I'm hoping that the shops of West 3rd Street get a good turnout for their annual Holiday Shopping Block Party tomorrow night. For those who aren't familiar with the city, West 3rd has perhaps the best concentration of exciting independent boutiques in the city, with shops carrying hard-to-find designers both local and international - and it's no secret that it's by far my favorite place in the city to shop.

In an age where holiday shopping has become a bit of a chore for most people, this is a fantastic way to bring fun back into it. Not only will you find really unique things that you can be sure the recipient doesn't already have (and clued-up sales people that aren't 15 years old to point you in the right direction), but there will also be food and bevvies and live music and a lack of soccer moms fighting over the last pair of Old Navy PJs in size medium. I sadly have plans for that evening so can't attend, but will definitely be making my way down to the area next week - and reporting on the great things I find, for those of you who can't make it down tomorrow either.


Quest for the Ideal Handbag: Junior Drake

Everybody's got irrationally high standards about something. For some, it's food; for others, it's men; for me, it's bags. I've been looking for a new bag for over a year now, to no avail - I have no interest in paying thousands of dollars for something hundreds of other women will have (or will have a fake copy of), but still want something with a bit of luxury - in the material, detailing, etc.

So I've decided to begin chronicling my quest here, in hopes that I might be able to offer some suggestions to other picky bag buyers - and also, hopefully, some of you might be able to tip me off to a few good brands as well.

First up is Junior Drake. It's an LA-based brand inspired by the legendary actress Patsy Brown, who used Junior Drake as her stage name. Drake's most famous quote,"It's not the dress, it's the girl," serves as the basis for the brand's ethos - one of individuality, spirit and class.

The main thing that attracts me to the bags is their attention to small details. Things like braiding and pleating give them a luxurious element, and their range of non-traditional colors - like apple-red and burnished pewter - make them perfect for those who want to stand out from a sea of black and brown totes. My favorite is the Andie, pictured above. It's big enough to fit a few large-format style magazines - massively important for me - but at only $448, it doesn't have a price tag to match.