It’s in The Bag

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Anne Sylvain isn’t just any handbag company, and Patricia Raskin isn’t just any creative director. Anne Sylvain, born of many years of careful thought and education, along with several years of testing to find the right U.S.-based manufacturing facility, turns out beautiful one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted handbags of ostrich, python and American alligator.

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Patricia, a corporate lawyer by trade (17 years to be exact), has always enjoyed creating beautiful things, and she comes from a long line of artists on both sides of her family, including painters and a concert pianist. So, while her company is a mere five years old, being the creative director of Anne Sylvain is very natural, what she was born to do. Patricia knew she wanted to create something to augment a woman’s everyday life. As she explains it, no matter what you are feeling on any given day, carrying a beautiful handbag makes you happy. I agree.

img_5656Anne Sylvain bags, accessories and home products are made by hand with careful attention to details such as turned edges (rather than edges which have been cut and painted), and, whenever possible, she uses continuous pieces of material, greatly increasing the value and durability of her products. Anne Sylvain bags are classic shapes, which stand the test of time. The inside of the bag is just as carefully created as the outside, often in a contrasting colored leather for a nice “pop.” The side view of a clutch is also considered, using the prized belly of the python, for instance (photo above). No detail is overlooked. For these reasons, Anne Sylvain bags and products are authentically luxurious.

In 2017, Anne Sylvain is launching a home collection including coasters, boxes and catch-alls. Patricia is also turning out smaller personal items such as zip pouches, notebook covers, eye glass cases, card holders, men’s accessories and women’s cuffs.

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On December 10-11, Turner Helton Antiques & Interior Design is hosting Anne Sylvain at a preview launch party for the Anne Sylvain home collection. The event will also feature the full fall and holiday handbag collection. You don’t want to miss it!

Enjoy the slideshows featured in this post, and trust me when I say each piece is more lovely than a photo is able to capture. Any Anne Sylvain piece would make a special holiday gift for a loved one.

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Not to be overlooked, Anne Sylvain offers bespoke! The options and combinations are almost limitless. Your product can also be stamped with initials or numbers (like the catch all in the slide show above).img_5662

All photos by Bethany Siggins.

Note: The large black bag at the beginning of this piece is Anne Sylvain’s newest addition to the family, the Artemis. It features a 2 way zipper, 2 exterior pockets and 3 interior pockets. In short, it is the perfect bag for your next adventure!

Edie’s Shoes – Seattle’s Capitol Hill Mainstay

IMG_2359For 16 years Edie’s Shoes has served up the sophistication of Europe in a relaxed shopping atmosphere in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Founded in 2000 by Erin Dolan, the shop offers men’s, women’s and a select few children’s styles, in addition to hats, handbags, jewelry and men’s accessories. On a recent visit, I found an enticing selection of merchandise, including lovely wall art for sale. As I have learned since moving to Seattle, comfort is key, and Edie’s serves it in abundance. Yet style is never compromised. These are on-trend shoes for the fashionable, discerning client.IMG_2310

IMG_2347Erin knows her stuff and is very hands-on with her customers, offering educated advice on what works and why.

As the saying goes, it is a small world. My daughter could not stop talking about a boy she likes (in a friendly, not a romantic, way – they are only five) in her class at a West Seattle school. It turns out, he is the son of Erin.

IMG_2348Edie’s Shoes offers a welcoming, relaxed shopping environment, and I recommend you stop in soon. They are running an anniversary sale until June 9! Now is the time to invest in a cool pair of shoes no one else will have at a price that won’t break your bank. Happy Shopping!—Bethany

Seattle Street Style – “Fun” Neutrals

Whoever said neutrals are boring didn’t know this lovely gal. Meet Niusha, new to Seattle from Dallas, TX, who was kind enough to allow me to snap her today on the street in Bellevue Square.  She has a great love of fashion and style, and she also happens to be a brilliant MBA with a background in advertising and supply chain. Seattle is lucky to have her!

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I love how she mixed a variety of neutrals in her outfit, and they all work beautifully together.  Plus, the bright white at the top of her sweater brings the focus up to her gorgeous face. With the addition of the zippered handbag and stylish sunglasses (plus her radiant smile!), she’s totally pulled together and quite a head-turner. Thanks, Niusha!

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Stay tuned for more Seattle street style!

Tory Burch “In Color”

ToryJessicaTory Burch, known as much for her love of the color orange as for her sporty flats and dreamy caftans, has released a gorgeous coffee table book today, “Tory Burch: In  Color” about her 11 favorite colors: orange, blue, green, purple, pink, red, yellow, white, black, natural and gold.  I was blessed to meet Tory last week and have her sign the book, which is being released today.  Last Friday afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas, Tory was joined by her friend Jessica Alba (actress and founder of The Honest Company) to discuss the book and other topics of interest including how she balances motherhood and a career, and the roundabout path she took in starting her namesake company.

Tory considers herself a late bloomer having only started her wildly successful company 10 years ago.  Tory departed a career on the rise with LVMH to stay at home with her three young boys.  Four years later, she started her company because she felt there was a need for high-quality, affordable clothing and accessories.  She certainly hit the mark!  However, she said she was not an overnight success, spending many of her first two years on the phone with her Hong Kong operations until 3:00 a.m. her time.

Tory was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania with three brothers.  Her parents Buddy and Reva (for whom Tory named her first flat) who would leave Tory and her brothers with family to take six-week worldly vacations, returning with various exotic souvenirs.  In addition, Tory’s childhood home entertained many “overnight” guests who invariably would stay long past their expected departure dates.  As as result of this unique upbringing, Tory’s aesthetic reflects an appreciation for diversity, one that is decidedly multicultural.

I greatly enjoyed the event, hosted by American Express, and I am very appreciative to my dear friend Peg Baird for allowing me to be her plus one!  Pick up a copy of the book, even if you are not familiar with Tory or her company.  I think you will find the content, including many beautiful photographs, to be highly inspiring and a lovely addition to your library.  Tory sees the world in color, and I think we all should!

How To Create a Wardrobe Shopping List

HangersSizesThere are at least two approaches to creating a smart wardrobe shopping list. One way is to assess your wardrobe for basics versus personality pieces.

Why do you need a shopping list? For starters, most purchases are impulse buys. And let’s face it, it is difficult to have a wardrobe that works for you if it is full of impulse buys. Any guilty parties out there? Tags still on oodles of items in your closet? Yep, that’s what I thought. Stop it. Make a list and stick to it.

First, assess your wardrobe for basics. These are the foundational building blocks of your wardrobe. You might also think of wardrobe basics as classic pieces, the items which are always available (in some version) year after year.

Basics/Classics include:
a white cotton shirtClassic Dresser
a blazer (or cardigans)
quality, well-fitting t-shirts
a few skirts (in lengths & shapes that flatter)
dark wash, straight leg jeans
flat-front pants
a few blouses
a day dress
a cocktail dress
a leather handbag
a leather pump
flats
quality bras (in the correct size) and
good underwear

How did you do? Write the missing classic pieces on your shopping list. Next, list them in order of priority. You cannot build a home with no foundation. The same is true for your wardrobe. These foundational pieces help to create well-balanced outfits. However, you may not need every item on this list. If you never attend cocktail events, skip the cocktail dress. If you are a skirt girl, skip the pants or vice versa. Tailor this list to your taste and your needs/lifestyle.

Of the classics/basics you own, are they in good condition, do they fit and are they representative of your taste and style? If not, toss them and purchase new ones.

Second, assess your wardrobe for personality pieces. Do you have any? What are personality pieces? Perhaps they are pieces you gravitate towards in the store that you are not sure you can pull off. Of course you can! Go for it! Often a personality piece is a twist on a basic or a classic. It has a slightly different design, color, texture or pattern to it.

Personality pieces may include drop earrings, cocktail rings, printed scarves, patterned tights, colorful handbags, over-sized sunglasses and so on. These pieces show others who you are. Personality pieces are mixed with classics to make interesting, well-balanced outfits.

WardrobeSpiceIf personality pieces are sorely lacking in your closet, write “personality pieces” at the top of your shopping list. The next time you shop, if you gravitate towards a basic/classic, but you know your highest priority is to find personality pieces, step away from the classic.

Some of us are classic girls, and some of us are personality piece girls. And some of us are both (guilty)! Too many classics makes for a lackluster wardrobe, but too many personality pieces make it difficult to create well-balanced outfits.

Happy Weekend, everyone, and thanks for reading. Make a smart wardrobe shopping list and stick to it!  Most of all, stay fabulous.

Amp Up Your Career Style

womanstrongmakeupI was recently asked by Polish Dallas, an organization that connects young professional women to discuss career and faith, to write a blog post.  Since my subscribers may not have seen it, I wanted to share the post with you here on my blog.  Enjoy!

It has probably happened to you on countless mornings. You drag yourself to your closet, and you stare blankly into the abyss of clothes, uninspired and uncertain what to wear. Chances are when you started your career, you purchased the basic work wardrobe required for your job. The trouble is, that basic wardrobe does nothing to excite you, and it most certainly does not communicate your personal style.

There is hope!  Here are my top 5 tips for adding pizzazz to your hum-drum work look.

(1) Start with color. Admit it, your wardrobe is a sea of black, brown, navy and gray, isn’t it? Make a concerted effort to look for colorful tops to wear under jackets. A raspberry heel, a cobalt blue handbag or a turquoise necklace would also do the trick. Wearing something colorful to work brings a smile to your face and it makes those around you happy, as well.

(2 Look for pattern. This one goes hand-in-hand with color. An outfit that lacks pattern is a real snooze. Stop playing it safe by purchasing only solid colored pieces for your closet. Patterned tops and shells look outstanding under basic work jackets and cardigans.

(3) Add eye-catching “third” pieces. A third piece is my word for blazers, jackets and cardigans. No work look is complete without one. You may not wear it all day, but at least you have it on hand for meetings, luncheons and events where you wish to look smart and credible. When buying a blazer, steer clear of the banker look. Look for shapely cuts, an intriguing texture or creative details.

(4) Seek out interesting shapes and details. In other words, look for classic pieces that go beyond the classic formula: pick a leopard pump over a basic black pump, try a printed sheath dress if all of your work dresses are solid colors, or experiment with a-line skirts if you principally own pencil shapes.

(5) Let your accessories do the talking. Accessories are the “soul” of your outfit, and they tell your story. This is where your creativity and personal style is best expressed at work. Even if your closet is full of wardrobe basics, your image takes on new life with fabulous shoes, handbags and jewelry. So even if you would rather play it safe with your clothing selections, you can still look like a woman with a strong sense of her own style with the right accessories.

So, get out there and start sprucing up your wardrobe.  If you need help, call me. I would love to assist you!

Cake & Icing

A well-balanced wardrobe includes what I call cake and icing. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? The cake of your wardrobe are the wardrobe classics. These are the pieces that are available in some version year after year. They include a white cotton shirt, a blazer, a cardigan, quality t-shirts, a pencil or a-line skirt, jeans, a leather handbag, a pair of pumps and a pair of flats or loafers. The design and fabric of these pieces change a bit over the years, but you will always be able to walk into a store and find them.

The collage below, which I created in Polyvore, shows you two types of dresses, one is a wrap style, which is fitted through the waist, and the other is a shift style, which flows over the waistline. Every woman regardless of her age and her lifestyle should have one dress that fits her well and makes her feel like a million bucks.  Not to be overlooked in our list of classics, one should own either an overcoat or a trench coat.  The coat in this collage is something of a cross between a classic wool overcoat and a trench coat.

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While wardrobe classics are great, they often lack flair.  This is where the icing comes in.  The “icing” in the collage below (created in Polyvore) may not be your flavor, but the point is,  the icing includes the pieces that show others who you are.  The icing most accurately communicates your personal flair and style. These pieces mixed with classics create interesting outfits.

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Some of us are cake girls, and some of us are icing girls.  And some of us like both!  Guilty!  We may find ourselves with too much cake and not enough icing or vice versa.  Assess your wardrobe for cake and icing.  If you are lacking basics and classics, it is difficult to create outfits, as an outfit often begins with basics.  On the other hand, not having the icing to give your look its flair will leave you feeling like your outfits are boring.

If you identify an imbalance, make a wish list and start shopping.  The spring and summer deals are heating up.  If you need help assessing your wardrobe, call me.  We’ll determine your best pieces and make a shopping list together.  A well-balanced wardrobe is a must!

Alternative to Shorts

Some of you face a dilemma this time of year.   The temps are creeping up, but you are not a “shorts” person. What is a gal to do?  Allow me to suggest an alternative, which is universally flattering.  Enter the circle skirt.  This skirt has ease around the hips because of its slight a-line shape.  This is great for the gal with more down below who needs a bit of room for comfort, and this is also great for the gal who lacks shape to give her the appearance of curves.

The ideal length is to the knee (either just above or just below).  I realize the midi skirt is very popular right now, which goes to mid-calf.  However, this length is extremely difficult to pull off if you are not particular tall or thin as stops in an odd place at mid-calf (much like the Capri pant), creating a shorter leg line and visually widening the wearer.  The last time I checked, no woman has ever told me she wishes she looked shorter and wider!

I created the following set in Polyvore to provide you with a couple of ideas for wearing this skirt.  I paired both skirts with a button front shirt, which looks a bit more dressed up than a simple t-shirt is able to accomplish.

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Two pieces of advice on the top: roll the sleeves and make sure the hem of the top ends around your hip bones.  If you do not tuck your tops, and the top is too long, ask your tailor or dry cleaner to cut it, a very simple alteration.  Rolling the sleeves is heightening, and it certainly makes sense now that the mercury is rising.  Finish the outfit with your favorite sandals, bag and jewelry, and you are done.

So easy, right?  Hop to it!  Happy Friday and thanks for reading!

Bad Combos? Pink & Green and Orange & Black

One of my wonderful readers said he dislikes pink and green in combination and orange and black. I agree, those are difficult color pairings which are best avoided in most cases. However, since I’m not one to say “never” in most cases, I set out to create two Polyvore sets with these colors together. What do you think? Are they a hit or a miss?

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To be fair, I think the pink & green he was referring to was petal pink with apple green. That does sort of take me back to being five again.  In this outfit, the pink is just about purple and the green is sea foam.  It is quite a lovely color pairing to my eyes.  What about yours?  The orange and black outfit works because the jeans are charcoal rather than jet black, and the orange of the blouse is sheer and it is broken up by a plethora of white polka dots.

Throw another forbidden color combo at me, and I’ll see if I can crack it.  Thanks for reading, and thank you for your comments and shares!  Have a happy Wednesday!

Alternative “Neutral” Colors

girlplaidI suppose one definition for a neutral color would be a color that pairs well with most other colors.  When we think of neutrals, our minds generally go to cream, black, white, gray, taupe and so on.  But what about mustard, periwinkle and royal blue as neutrals?  Hmmm…  Once you start to think about it, there are a wide variety of colors one could pair with the colors I just mentioned.

The problem is, most of our wardrobes lack color which makes it difficult to test-drive our theory of using colors as neutrals.  Frankly, well-designed pieces in dark and light neutrals are easier to find.  However, as we enter spring when well-designed colorful pieces are a bit easier to find, let’s make an effort to bring much-needed color to our mostly neutral wardrobes.

As I show you here, colorful pieces are not as difficult to work with as you may initially imagine.  I am using both forest green in the first set (created on Polyvore) and dark red in the second set to show you how they act as “neutral” and pair well with a variety of other colors.

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So, look at your wardrobe a bit differently in the coming weeks.  Mix colors together, in ways you have not previously.  When you start to do this, you have a much greater variety of combinations in your closet, saving you lots of time and money.  If you need help seeing the possibilities, call me.  I’d be delighted to spend and hour or two in your closet showing you new combinations.  Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!