How Black is Your Halo?

I think it was fate.  I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to simplify my life and wardrobe... my "style cleanse".  Then last week - lo and behold - Laurel Berman, the owner/designer of Black Halo, happened to be making an appearance at my local Neiman Marcus.  

I had to meet her, obvi.  I couldn't pass up the chance to meet the woman who created the iconic "Jackie O".  This is a dress that can instantaneously make any woman look and feel sophisticated, sexy and like she owns the world... pretty good for one dress, right?!

This is exactly the type of chic, simplified style that I have been aiming for... a perfect palette to then add the accessories and shoes to make it your own.  Most importantly it is easy.  Slip into a dress and run out the door.  There isn't much time or thought that is required - perfect.

This dress is still an investment (retailing right around $345), but it is a well-made, timeless style.  It can be worn to work, to a bridal shower, or even out with some sexy shoes, earrings and a leather jacket.  You can achieve that Victoria Beckham look without taking on a second mortgage.

The Jackie O

Easter-worthy Jackie O's (both available at Neiman's)...

Amazing dress, aside, Laurel Berman is an inspiring woman as well.  After working hard her entire life, she was able to start this L.A.-based brand where everything is designed and made in-house.  To have that much control over your business is so rare these days.  Not only does this ensure quality work, but this is what made the Jackie O possible.  

This (now famous) dress started as a high-waisted pencil skirt.  Laurel used to wear it with silky tops that always came untucked.  Out of frustration, she sewed a tank to the skirt... and voilĂ , the Jackie O was born.  This dress spent a season or two as a mixed media dress, and has since transformed into the various versions pictured above.

What I found most interesting is how she deals with what she calls being stuck in "the dress box".  While very thankful for the success of the Jackie O, it is challenging to get past that... it is what you are known for.  I likened this to my quest of finding "my look".  

She knows her customer is working woman, a mother, someone who is out and about attending meeting and events.  However, it is not just about being prim and proper.  There is a little edginess in her designs as well.  Hence, the name Black Halo.  Everyone's halo is a bit tarnished isn't it?!

As Laurel continues to design for this woman, she has begun to add colorblocked styles, peplums, fuller skirts, and evening wear.  While keeping her same aesthetic, she has begun to add additional looks that are still easy and sophisticated, but give her customers other options to express their individual style.  

After chatting with Laurel, I realized that creating "your look" can only come after you have defined your style.  Expressing your personality doesn't have to come through perfectly matching those leopard and floral prints, but from the details in a well-made dress, a perfectly chosen bracelet or an edgy pair of shoes.  Easy ways to express yourself while maintaining a chic - not overdone - style.

More food thought while trudging through the "Style Cleanse"...

                                                                                                                     - Allison                                                                                  

*Photos courtesy of neimanmarcus.com, glamour.com and shopbop.com.


The Style Cleanse

Wow, it's been a long time!  As this whirlwind we call life, seems to be picking up speed, I have been trying my darndest to streamline my day, stay focused and declutter.  The goal being to actually enjoy day to day happenings and get back to things that I love (i.e. my blog).  

Along with trying to recycle about 20 trees worth of old magazines that I was saving for one reason or another (I think we are over styles from Spring 2011, right?!), I decided that my wardrobe also needed a cleanse of sorts.  

I am not talking about your typical purge, but more of a style cleanse.  For several years now, everything has been about mixing and matching, pairing the unexpected... "J. Crewing" up your look (if you catch my drift).  Well, as fun as this creative exercise can be, it is a time zapper.  Plus, I am feeling that the norm now is to look perfectly mismatched - have you seen the obsession with outrageous street style lately??  

Yes, some people have fabulous innate style.  I do appreciate seeing this personal expression on display, and it can lead to great inspiration.  However, for most of us, trying to get this look down pat takes forever.  Who really wants to spend hours getting dressed and still look like a frazzled hobo when you were really trying for boho-chic??  

With the return of Spring, and a renewed focus on minimalism in the fashion world, this is literally the perfect time to reassess "your look".  Obviously this is a very personal process, but I would just like to give you a little food for thought to get you started on your journey.

The Style Cleanse

First - think about your life, your schedule, what types of clothing you are comfortable in, and which looks make you feel good/sexy/powerful? 

Second - Who do you look to for inspiration?  Who are your style icons?  What was it about their looks that made them so famous?
Third - Focus yourself.  Collect images of looks you like.  Write down what you want "your look" to be.  Make a list of key pieces that would make up this look.  Start shopping in your closet for ensembles that fit in you look.  

Very important - Give "your look" a test drive before taking it to the next level.  Do you like the result? Does it fit into your daily routine?  Do you feel like "you"?  If yes, then start to purge old pieces that just don't work anymore, and only purchase new pieces to fit into this new, redefined style.  If not, reassess.  Figure out what isn't working and make some changes.  No one said this was an overnight transformation.

Personally, I have been working on my cleanse for awhile now... I seem to have to many "fashion personalities".  However, after reassessing many times... I have started to refer to this process as "getting back to basics".  This has helped me focus quite a bit.

I felt as though I had gotten so caught up in trying to mix & match and be unique, that I had forgotten how fresh a crisp white button-down looks with just about anything.  Or, that a perfectly tailored dress can be quite chic... all on it's own.  Even the perfect pointy toe (paired with a skirt, pants, jeans... anything) always adds an element of sophistication.  Maybe my new motto should be to "keep it simple, clean, minimal".  Hmmm...

Some images that I have been using for inspiration...

Audrey Hepburn - clean lines, tailored, simple and classic.

Who can forget this Gap shirt & ball gown combo that Sharon Stone wore to the Oscars?  A classic, sophisticated way to play up personal style.

Victoria Beckham might just be the modern day Audrey Hepburn.  Her style is very similar to that of the beloved icon.  Although she doesn't seem to stray much from her "look".  She has created a fashion empire based on her clean, tailored aesthetic.  It's all in the details...

Who do you look to for style inspiration??

                                        - Allison

*Photos courtesy of justjared.com and google.com.