Inside my shoe closet...

Inside my shoe closet…

Hi, my name is Erin and I’m an ESFP.

I’m addicted to aesthetics.

“ESFPs have a very well-developed appreciation for aesthetic beauty, and an excellent sense of space and function. If they have the means, they’re likely to have to have many beautiful possessions, and an artfully furnished home. In general, they take great pleasure in objects of aesthetic beauty. They’re likely to have a strong appreciation for the finer things in life, such as good food and good wine…” and, in my case, good clothes, accessories and beauty practices.

We ESFPs are also not particularly modest either…

My friend Ada Polla, the founder of Alchimie Forever, knows what I’m talking about (she went to Harvard where they make everyone take the Myers-Briggs test at some point). She has known me and my closet full of clothes for a while now. Even so, I can pretty much promise she’s never seen me wear the same thing twice.

When I saw her a couple of weeks ago in Geneva, she asked me how she should wear a pair of nude-colored, peep-toe pumps, or if she should even be wearing them at all. That led into another question or two about style… and then the following day I received an email from her asking for a list of all of my rules for style (and beauty) for her column in the Huffington Post.

Since this is the topic I love most, I happily obliged, typing out 23 rules on my laptop as my husband drove us down the highway to the South of France, the sun shining, pointy Provençal trees arching in the wind and centuries old, dust-colored mas farmhouses sitting motionless in green fields as we sped by.

I tend to work efficiently when surrounded by beauty…

Without further ado, here are my 23 tips for style on the Huffington Post:

Fashion:

1. As Diana Vreeland once said: “Too much good taste can be boring.” To offset this truth, I often find myself using leopard as a neutral. There is a fine line between being vulgar and interestingly chic. That said, never take your clothes too seriously. A little touch of humor — or extravagance — can make an otherwise uninteresting look seem instantly smart.

Leopard coat

2. Keep it neat. If you are going to wear something oversized on top, keep the bottom skinny. If you are going to wear billowing trousers, tuck in your top to show off your waist or opt for something that is closefitting or waist-skimming, otherwise you risk looking messy.

3. Dress for your body type, not for the latest trends. A cropped top and high-waisted trousers is a current look I like… but that doesn’t mean everyone should wear it.

Learn to work with your body, highlighting the parts you like. Belt a small waist. Show off your shoulders. Camouflage the parts you are uncomfortable with. Narrow shoulders and no boobies? A deep V creates some shape up on top. My best friend thinks her hips are too big, but she has a tiny waist, so her favorite proportion is a full skirt with a high waist. Poof! Her hips are hidden under a swish of fabric, only her tiny waist left behind to be admired. I’ve also adopted this look for myself, but for the opposite reason: my hips are too narrow and I like to give the illusion of a more hourglass shape.

Natalia Vodinova in American Vogue 2004

Natalia Vodinova in American Vogue 2004

If you don’t like your arms, don’t wear sleeveless tops, even if you love the top. You aren’t going to feel comfortable wearing it, your arms constantly on your mind. If you don’t feel great, you don’t look great.

4. Lulu Lemons are wonderful and flattering, but they are intended for the gym and, at a stretch, grocery shopping on your way home from the gym. Try to wear real clothes when you are not working out.

5. A boat neck is always flattering… and elegant.

6. My mother taught me to always buy high quality coats, shoes and handbags. They are the things you use everyday and the things everyone will notice first.

7. It’s almost spring: show off your ankles. Trousers that hit just above the ankles are always chic… think of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Pair these trousers with flat sandals or college loafers for day and choose an elegant pump or high-heeled sandal for evening.

Audrey Hepburn in trousers

Which brings us to shoes:

8. Just say no to big platform pump. I don’t care how short you are, there is no excuse for looking like a stripper. If I see another actress walking the red carpet in a pair of these uniformly colored hooves, I’m going to start a petition.

If these kinds of shoes are hidden under a floor-length gown, fine — no one can see them. But if you can see them? No. Absolutely not. If you need height opt for a sculpted wedge or an over-the-top, Miu Miu, proclamation platform or a shoe with a subtle, hidden platform, but if you think a two-inch platform is invisible because it’s the same color as the rest of your shoe, guess again.

I’d sacrifice an inch or two of height in the name of fashion any day.

9. Everyone should own a nude shoe. Because the shoe matches your skin tone, there is nothing highlighting where your leg ends, which helps to give the illusion that they go on for much longer than they actually do. I’ve never heard anyone complain that her legs look too long.

nude Valentino

Whether it’s a flat sandal, a simple pump or high-heeled sandal in the perfect shade of nude, you can’t go wrong: they go with everything. I usually pair mine with floral prints or bright colors… nude and red is a classic combination.

10. The black pump. It seems obvious, but there is nothing more useful than a black, closed toe pump. Elegant and timeless, this shoe adds quiet elegance to any look. A slight point to the toe is more modern and helps to add elongate the leg.

11. If you feel your outfit is a boring, the best way to make it more dynamic is to dress it up with an embellished shoe. Leopard print, gold or beaded and embroidered are among my fancy shoes of choice.

Other accessories:

12. Just like on Wall Street, more is never enough. A little gold letter on a chain around your neck isn’t going to change your look, but a huge cuff on each wrist? Or a shining statement necklace or oversized Eddie Borgo tassel necklace peering out from under a white button down? Kind of brilliant.

“Too loud?” you say? Open up any J. Crew catalogue and ask yourself again. Prodigal is the new preppy.

13. Don’t be scared of a fancy cell phone cover. A golden gate motif, a bejeweled peacock, a Chanel perfume bottle on a chain, or a cover entirely encrusted with pearls? Why not? Cell phones are already kind of obnoxious. Embrace it.

Giovanna Battaglia with the iPhone cases she designed for Case Senario.

Giovanna Battaglia with the iPhone cases she designed for Case Senario.

14. Pearls never go out of style. Never. I’m a big fan of wearing them in a more sensual or slightly punk way — never too literally. I love a pearl choker, a Dior pearl “piercing” or one of Ana Khouri’s pearl ear cuffs. I leave the tidy, boring single strand to my mum.

15. Handbags are another great way to add some character to a look. Never buy a boring one. If you go for a classic shape, why not buy it in red or kelly green? That said, it is difficult to wear a color everyday, so you will inevitably resort to a black, brown or nude everyday bag — we all do.

This “everyday” handbag is the one you will wear most, so while it may feel boring — it has to go with everything — make it special. Let this bag be the one you spend the most on. Go for luxury. Hermès is obviously the ultimate choice, but perhaps not the most realistic. Look for a bag by your favorite designer or brand and make sure it’s not an “it” bag… one that you’ve seen in every magazine or on the arms of all of your girlfriends. You want it to last, not look dated by next season. You also need to make sure it is big enough to hold all your stuff and has a shoulder strap. Being dominated by your handbag isn’t chic, but being able to maneuver your way through the day with both hands definitely is.

If you the bag passes these tests, hold you breath and blow the better part of your paycheck. This is an investment piece.

Mira Duma with an Hermès Constance. Photo by Tommy Ton.

Mira Duma with an Hermès Constance. Photo by Tommy Ton.

Beauty:

16. Take care of your skin. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. The worst thing you can do is to constantly change your beauty routine. You’ll aggravate your skin. I like a gentle cleanser, a lightening serum, a light moisturizer with SPF for day and something a bit heavier at night. Find an eye cream targeted to your “issues”: dark circles, puffiness, fine lines. I also use a gentle, at home, tri-weekly peel to keep my pores clean and my skin glowing.

17. A light foundation hides a multitude of imperfections. Even skin tone is a must. Find a great foundation that perfectly matches your skin. (I like “invisible” formulas like Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Make-Up and Koh Gen Do Manifanshi Moisture Foundation). Apply with your fingers or a foundation brush and then cover up any residual spots and under eye circles with a cover-up (I swear by like Kevyn Aucoin’s The Sensual Skin Enhancer).

18. Mascara or discrete eyelash extensions are really all you need to finish your makeup look for day. Healthy-looking skin and long lashes can take you quite a way…

19. If you need more, a bronzer or taupe/brown eye shadow brushed in a straight line and blended under your cheekbones adds instant definition. A bright pink or apricot blush on the apples of you cheeks makes you look fresh and awake. Like you just ran a 10K.

20. Try to keep your nails neat. If you don’t have time to paint them, cover them with a clear coat of shine. This will also add an extra layer of protection against splitting and chipping. If you do have time for color, I’m partial to the classics, only using reds, almost invisible pinks and the occasional beige.

I go wild with jewelry, but nail art terrifies me.

21. Hair. Hair is a tough one. I’d love to get a blowout every other day, but that’s not realistic (more like once every three months). Keep a travel-sized brush in your handbag or car and run it though your hair when no one’s looking (preferably not in public) and you’ll look like you just walked out of a salon… until the wind hits you, then game over.

22. I might get some flack for this, but don’t dye your hair unless you have to. Chances are your natural color looks pretty good, even if you find it boring. Un-chemically treated hair often looks healthiest… and it won’t go brassy or green after a few months. If you do need to color, opt for a natural, vibrant shade and then take good care of it. Nothing looks worse than dried out locks, ratty roots and artificial color.

23. I once met a countess who told me she always wears her long hair up in a chignon when she went out in the evening. That always stayed with me and a standard I often follow. But since my husband really likes my hair down, I break this guideline for him… sometimes.

Chignon

 

A few years ago, when her company was relatively new, I did a post about my friend, the handbag designer, Sara Battaglia. (Yes, that’s really how she looks. She’s a little bambolina… which means “doll” in Italian.)

I wrote the piece way back when her bags were not as easily recognizable as they are today, but they were definitely just as attention-grabbing. Whenever I wore my Acheora, fringy leather tote in a myriad of beautiful green tones from her first collection, people would stop me left and right to ask me who designed it. I said, with great pride, “My friend Sara!”

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Here is a piece I wrote for Shrimpton Couture’s CURATE this week… How making an old brand “new,” while staying true to it’s aesthetic roots, sometimes takes more than just one innovative creative:

Fashion houses are being re-vamped left and right this season. Jeremy Scott went to Moschino. Alessandro dell ‘Aqua went to Rochas. Marco Zanini, formerly of Rochas, went to Schiaparelli. Nicolas Ghesquiere went to Louis Vuitton… and there are apparently ten new somebodies to Courrèges.

Courrèges recently hired not one new designer, but a new design team to dream up their autumn 2014 collection. I use the word dream lightly: Courrèges is such a unique and iconic brand that it is quite important that they keep their collection very, well Courrèges: square, but in a very cool, white way.

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Sometimes you need a reason to run.

My most recent excuse was that it was winter. Winter in the Alps, where we live. Running in the winter has never been something I’ve chosen to do. Never. I also don’t run on treadmills. I don’t do a lot of things, secluded here in the winter.

A few weeks ago I realized I needed to stop making excuses. I was sitting on my bed with my laptop on my lap. I was planning a family trip to Paris on March 1st, when our kids would be on their winter holiday. It also overlaps with fashion week, which is great because I’ll be able to see a lot of friends I don’t often see anymore, but kind of annoying because I’m not working like I used to, therefore I have no reason to go to a million shows… and then to parties… and to be too tired to take care of my kids the next day.

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Inga Savits wearing boots from her a/w 2014 collection.

 

Inga Savits Hanon is tall, blond and beautiful. The Estonian-born, Milan-slash-Venice-based model, mother, wife and shoe designer has undoubtedly turned a few heads in her life. Her flaxen head draws you in, but it’s her coolly clad feet that will leave you wondering… Who made those shoes?

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Maison Martin Margiela 2014 couture looks - tattoo jacket

 

Cherie from the sublime vintage boutique, Shrimpton Couture, just asked me to write a short piece for her CURATE blog about the sheer amazingness of Maison Martin Margiela’s 2014 Couture notes. Below I have the words I wrote for CURATE, but be sure to click through to see the notes alongside the looks from the show… Reworked “vintage” at its absolute best:

 

Show notes, the pieces of paper or little folders that are lying on your seat when you arrive at a fashion show, are not a uniform thing. For me, someone who used to make her living reviewing shows, they were usually quite useful, sometimes even saving me a trip backstage for a quick interview with the designer. Other times the notes were so abstract, they left me no choice but to go back for a proper explanation in layman’s terms.

Show notes will sometimes give you details about fabrics (sometimes not), tell you what influenced the designer that season (or maybe not), who styled the show (usually not), with special thank-yous to whoever did the hair and makeup, etc.

But never have show notes been as clever and straightforward as they were at Maison Martin Margiela’s recent 2014 couture show. With details about the provenance of the vintage materials that were transformed to make each piece, the hours it took to make each piece and the artist who designed the fabric prints he often re-used, the Maison raised the show notes bar to a whole new – well, frankly, noteworthy – level.

Below we dive in deeper to Margiela’s show notes, reprinting them with their corresponding looks in order to show you, firsthand, the amount of time and extraordinary detail that went into each piece…

 

Stefani Padilla

Stefani Padilla

I first met Stefani Padilla when my friend Erin Fetherston commented that my husband’s hair was looking a little “young Republican.” (Which he totally is, by the way… I just don’t want people to automatically assume anything by looking at him. That’s too boring.)

This was a few years ago. Erin, who is now married to Gabe Saporta, the lead singer and founder of the band Cobra Starship, suggested that Stefani, Gabe’s hairstylist and someone who also often styles Erin’s hair as well, come to our apartment to cut my husband’s hair. Even Brook, who had had the same hairstyle for a decade, was super excited.

Stefani cut his hair and made a subtle, but potent difference. She didn’t turn him into the lead singer of a synthpop band (that wouldn’t be right either), but she managed to transform him from a young Republican into something cooler and slightly messier, but still very neat, if that makes any sense. She made his hair a little choppier and added a paste that gave it some texture. Et voilà, he still has the same haircut today.

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A Little Lanvin History…

January 22nd, 2014
Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, 1935

Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, 1935

From an piece I wrote for Shrimpton Couture’s Curate (click to see lots of historical images… as well as many other great vintage fashion stories):

As you may or may not know, Lanvin is France’s oldest fashion house. And, as you may or may not know, Lanvin is celebrating their 125th year this year. To commemorate, the house will be freely educating the fashion masses via various social media outlets, unveiling, day by day, photographs from the archives, videos, drawings by Jeanne Lanvin and Alber Elbaz, as well as noting other benchmarks from the fashion house’s past.

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Martine

I’ve been obsessed with this (click above) sexy, moody song since I heard it on this short film for Yves Saint Laurent’s 2012 cruise collection a while ago. The only hint of what song it might was at the end when music was credited to Martìn Gutierrez, but when I went searched to find him or her, (it wasn’t clear; the vocals were undeniably feminine, yet Martin is a man’s name), the song was nowhere to be found. Not one of his/her songs on iTunes either.

So I Shazamed the video, no luck. The song didn’t seem to exist. I looked up every possible title I could think of for the song: Silver Tongue, Tears from a Gun, We Goin’ Bigger than Before, Shootin’ Up the Floor, Be My Love, Put Your Hands Up, Don’t Cry, My Love, You Shot Me Down. Nothing.

I became obsessed, playing the song over and over. I started typing the lyrics into a Google search and finally found the song on Bandcamp.com. But I still could’t download the song and add it to my mercurial writing mix I so desperately depend on to get me “in the mood.”

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Sylvia Toledano

Sylvia Toledano

I “met” Sylvia Toledano over Instagram. We silently exchanged emoticons under each other’s photos and then, seeing that she designed beautiful, crystal encrusted clutches, as well as amazing jewelry that recalls her childhood in Africa, modernized by her chic, Parisian roots, I had a long look at her website. I fell in love with her aesthetic. 

I had Sylvia’s website up on a tab in my browser for about a week, reminding myself that I needed to feature her on this site, when the latest issue of French Vogue (this was back in December) arrived in my mailbox.

There was one fashion story that I particularly liked. It opened with a heavily bejeweled beauty hanging out on a terrace high above Paris, grey rooftops serving as her backdrop. Then we went into her opulent apartment, where she lounged covered in gold lamé, finely dotted tights and forties hats. The story spoke to me. The softness of the girl, the clothing, the romance, being transported to Paris. But what I really liked, and could incorporate into my own style, was the way the jewelry was styled. I’m a “more is more” kind of girl – I pile my jewelry on whenever I can, but it needs to look organized. I’m not into an “arm-party,” I just like one or two bracelets… on each arm. A necklace or two. And earrings. I’m naked without earrings.

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