It’s in The Bag

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

img_5639

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Fashion Week Lake Charles

 

mardi gras2

Many things come to mind when south Louisiana is mentioned, Mardi Gras, Creole cuisine, Spanish moss, Voodoo and their world-famous laid-back attitude top the list.  Fashion is not generally one’s first thought, but Julie Branden and her dedicated team of fashion professionals are making fashion week a reality in Lake Charles, Louisiana, April 13-17.  In true Louisiana style, FWLC is packed with a gumbo of events such as a design competition, two days of runway shows and a variety of parties to keep you on your sartorial toes.

woman reclining

There will be appearances by special guests Saints hall of famer Tyrone Hughes and American Horror Story (season 4) actress Ania Spiering at the launch party on Thursday, April 14. Ms. Spiering is wearing a few hats during FWLC, serving as a judge and a model coach on top of hosting duties.

Amongst the featured designers: Lake Charles-based clothing line Quad Clothing by Indrea Gordon, Nigerian designer of head-turning fascinators Iniziobella, Koko Shantal, purveyor of funky accessories and unique apparel, and many more. You do not want to miss the wrap party on Sunday, April 17 where local designer James Porter will delight attendees with a fashion show of his gorgeous swimwear.

The mission of FWLC is two-fold, to highlight special talent in the fashion industry and to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF). Thus, in this case, fashion is much more than skin deep. Come one and come all to southwest Louisiana, for this smashing inaugural fashion extravaganza that is sure to light your fashion fire and leave you with a heaping helping of creative inspiration. Buy your tickets today!

Zelda Zonk Consignment – West Seattle

IMG_0582I am fairly new to Seattle (just over one year), and even newer to West Seattle (11 months).  I have always prided myself with being a great shopper, and, in particular, being a savvy bargain shopper.  My previous home, Dallas, TX, is not only a mecca of wonderful shopping but also a gold mine of consignment and second hand shops.  So, it was my great delight to discover Zelda Zonk Consignment on California Avenue in the Admiral District of West Seattle on a recent drive by. The shop opened in mid-June of 2015, culminating a long-time dream of shop owner Carrie Zimney to have her own boutique.

IMG_0586Once I stepped inside, I knew I had found one of my spots.  The racks are stocked with quality brands like Vince, Tory Burch, J. Crew, Halogen and DVF in near mint condition. Carrie is friendly and helpful, yet not at all pushy or sales-y.  Much of the space utilizes recycled materials, going hand-in-hand with the consignment concept of clothing recycling.  Carrie recently opened up the back room of the shop, which upon my most recent visit was well stocked with designer jeans and jackets. Overall, the shop is well organized, which if you have shopped at consignment shops as much as I have, you know is not always the case.

IMG_0576I recently consigned with Carrie, and she makes the process easy. She sets an appointment for you to bring in your clean, current items, and she lets you know what she is taking and where she is pricing it while you wait. You can track your sales and credit online, and whatever does not sell by the end of your consignment period is donated to a worthy non-profit organization unless you otherwise arrange for pick up.

IMG_0579

Carrie is currently accepting items for spring, which means the fall/winter inventory is being marked down. Now is the time to jump on great deals for next season! Here I am on Instagram modeling a couple of stylish layering pieces I spotted on my last visit. While these items may no longer be available, you can be assured Carrie has many things in-store that are covet-worthy. As always, if you would like assistance finding pieces that are right for you, I am at your service. Happy bargain hunting!—Bethany Siggins

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.

The Classic Dresser & The Natural Dresser

To avoid delaying this study of the 7 most common style personalities any further, I am going to cover the last two in one post: the classic dresser and the natural dresser.

The Classic Dresser is drawn towards neutral colors, traditional prints and simple styles.  She prefers semi-fitted and tailored clothing, quality fabrics and a coordinated appearance.  She does not generally follow trends, although she adopts trends once they become a classic.  She does not take unnecessary risk with her appearance and she prefers to be noticed for her elegant manner rather than for her wardrobe.  Her makeup is neutral and her hairstyle is well-managed, and she rarely makes changes to either.  She likes conservatively-styled bags, shoes and jewelry.  The Classic Dresser’s wardrobe is somewhat formal, as well as polished, timeless and sharp.

Here is a set I created on Polyvore which I believe captures the look of the Classic Dresser:

Classic Dresser

The Natural Dresser keeps her look simple and organic.  She enjoys her own beauty to shine through with little embellishment.  She favors a relaxed fit and natural fabrics.  Comfort is very important to her.  If she wears pattern, it often replicates one found in nature.  She also prefers “nature” colors or neutrals.  She is not greatly concerned with her appearance, and she spends little time on her hair and makeup.  She likes easy care fabrics.  The Natural Dresser appears relaxed, and her wardrobe shuns complexity.

Here is the set I created on Polyvore to demonstrate the look of the Natural Dresser:

NaturalAs I said in the first post, you can be a mixture of these personal styles or perhaps you give your style a completely different name from the ones I have featured.  For instance, my style recipe is feminine, dramatic, unexpected, artistic.  If you look across the personal styles I have featured, I believe my personal style most embodies a blend between the modern/chic dresser and the dramatic dresser, but I have chosen for now not to give my style the modern/chic title.  Maybe later.  We’ll see.  That’s the beauty of one’s personal style.  You can call it anything you like as long as you know what it looks like to you.

If you need help discovering your style recipe/personal style, call me.  I’d be delighted to help you solidify your brand.  Thanks for reading.  Have a wonderful weekend!

The Elegant Dresser

I am covering the most common style personalities to assist you in identifying your unique personal style.  First, I profiled the Modern/Chic Dresser.  Next, I presented the Creative/Artistic Dresser, followed by Feminine/Romantic Dresser.  Earlier this week, I gave you the Dramatic Dresser.

Now, let’s discuss the Elegant Dresser. The Elegant Dresser has very expensive, refined taste.  Her clothing is made of fine fabrics like cashmere, silk, buttery leather and fine wool.  Every piece of her clothing is tailored to perfection.  She favors lighter neutral colors like champagne, beige and camel, and when she wears color it is generally a solid.  She favors designer brands and most of the styles she wears have a classic, timeless quality.  Her hair is controlled and her makeup is neutral.  Her jewelry includes genuine pearls, diamonds and other precious gems, and she loves the best handbags and shoes.  The Elegant Dresser appears rich and poised.

I created a collage on Polyvore to show you how I see the Elegant Dresser:

ElegantYou may know an Elegant Dresser, and chances are she is either a very successful business woman, or she has no need to work at all.  I do not consider myself to have this style, but I do covet a few of the accessories in this collage.  Do you know an Elegant Dresser?  Are you one?  Do tell.  Have you found your style in these profiles yet?  Thank you for reading!  Have a happy weekend!

Bethany’s Favorite Spots for Summer Sale Season

Sometimes I am asked, “When are the best times to shop?”  For spring/summer, the time is NOW.  Actually, it is a little late in the sale season now.  Sales have been going for at least a month or more; however, we are now in prime time for final markdowns, which is when you find your best deals (but there is also less selection).

The other question I am occasionally asked, “Where do you like to shop?”  My broad answer to this question is “everywhere.”  I pick up finds at vintage shops, boutiques and “regular” mall stores.  I also enjoy shopping when I travel because when I purchase pieces outside of Dallas I have a greater chance of having things no one else will have in their wardrobes.

To be more specific, here are my top four spots for clothes shopping in Dallas:

(1) Nordstrom Northpark is where I pick up work basics like cardigans, pencil skirts and trousers.  Ask for Jennifer Parsons to assist you.  She stays very busy, so if she is not available to assist you, she can set you up to shop with one of the store’s other personal stylists.  Shopping with a personal stylist is a service offered free of charge by Nordstrom, and it is a service I highly recommend.  It is a great time-saver, and their stylists have the eye for what looks good.

(2) Tootsies is where I like to pick up pieces that are one step beyond basic like printed TootsiesFindsjeans, colorful blouses and funky jewelry.  Ask for Pat or Betsy to assist you.  They are fun and knowledgeable about the store’s merchandise, and they are also honest about what looks good and what pieces can be tailored to fit well.  Here are my finds from this week’s consolidation sale, which ends tomorrow: J. Brand printed jeans (love!), three dots white tank top (a basic I needed) and a Lulu Guiness cosmetic case (I had been looking for a new case for my handbag for months).

(3) Elements is where I shop for cool wardrobe treasures, pieces I know I will have for many years and love wearing because of their unique design.  Elements carries lines you may not have heard of, but you think you should like Mackage and Plein Sud.  Ask for Stevie.  She’s a brilliant stylist, always spot on NotifyJeanswith what works for you, and she’s just plain cool.  Here I am wearing a pair of high-waist, white flair jeans by Notify I snagged at their final markdown sale last August.  When Stevie said I look like Olivia Newton John in these jeans, I practically threw my dollars at her feet.

(4) Forty Five Ten is a shop you may be afraid to go into because they carry the top designer goods, and they are repeatedly featured in fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.  However, if you have all of your wardrobe basics covered and you would like to start adding designer pieces to your “collection,” this is the place to go.  Their final markdown is the time to go if you have a limited budget (as I do).  Here I am wearing a Comme des Garcon skirt I purchased at this year’s final markdown sale.CommeSkirt

Lastly (but certainly not least), I would like to give a shout-out to Lou Lou, located across the street from Elements on Lovers Lane.  They carry all kinds of fun shoes and great handbags at prices that won’t break your bank.  The owner Molly Thayer Justman, a fellow Louisiana girl, has the eye for what we’ll love having in our wardrobes.

To close, I must brag on my finds from Gap this week.  I haGapFindsve enjoyed my cotton pants I’ve bought there the last two summers, so I decided to go in this week to see if I could get another pair for a good price.  Well, I not only found another pair of cotton pants (in cobalt blue, no less), but I also scored three tops and a pair of hot pink shorts.  All five pieces rang up for a grand total of $67, including tax.  Wow!

So, there you have it – Bethany’s shopping haunts revealed.  Nothing too exotic or crazy is on the list, as you can see.  The key is knowing what you want and need, and being sure of your brand and what pieces will best communicate it.  If you need help, let me know.  I’d be delighted to assist you!

Breaking Your Own Style Rules

do not passWhat style rules have you imposed upon yourself?  Perhaps you think you can’t wear a particular color or a certain shape or maybe you are still of the mind that one can’t wear white after Labor Day or before Easter.  We all have rules we like to follow, but as the saying goes rules are made to be broken.  I surprised myself this week by breaking two of my rules in one outfit.  I wore a “jean suit,” a fitted medium blue jean jacket with black skinny jeans.  I told myself I would never wear two pieces of denim in an outfit, and here I’ve done it.  And I sort of liked it.  I never enjoyed the fact that my jean jackets could only be worn with a limited number of pieces.  Sometimes I just wanted to throw on a jean jacket with my *gasp* jeans!  So, I finally did it.  Will I make a habit of it?  Maybe not.  But I’m glad I broke my rule, which frees me to break it again if I’m so inclined.  The key to wearing a jean suit is to be sure the two pieces of denim are different colors, depths or tones, and if possible, it helps if the denims are different weights so that it does not look like you are trying to wear a denim suit.

The second rule I broke in this particular outfit was I wore skinny jeans, which I have always sworn are completely wrong for my body shape.  I am a slender person, but I do not have slim “model” legs.  My legs are the muscular sort, shaped by years of dance, weight lifting and running.  A straight leg jean is better for me, but these jeans are black, which are slimming and are much more forgiving than a skinny jean in bright yellow or stark white.  Are skinny jeans my best shape?  No, they are not.  However, now that I am a mom to adorable twin toddlers, skinny jeans make sense for the toddler-type activities in my life like playing on the floor, chasing them in two different directions or pushing them on the swings in the park.  Skinny jeans look a heck of a lot better than yoga pants or gym shorts, which I strenuously believe belong in the gym.  Skinny jeans are my stylish compromise.

How about you?  What style rules are you ready to break?  Give yourself permission to get out of your style box from time to time.  It opens your eyes to greater opportunities to wear and enjoy your wardrobe in different ways you had not previously considered.  If you need help seeing the possibilities, call me.  Outfit making with my clients’ wardrobes is one of my favorite things to do.  Have a fun, stylish weekend!

Seeing Double

As some of you know, on December 30, 2010 I became a mother to the most beautiful twin babies in the world, Nathan & Vivien.  Ever since their arrival, I have been seeing double, literally!  Double diapers, double laundry, double bottles, etc.  All this double vision got me thinking about style (only me, right?).  The past year of my life raising twin babies has been a little overwhelming.  Yet it has been manageable with the right guidance and support.

I encounter clients all the time who feel overwhelmed when they shop.  They may as well be seeing double when they walk in the store. The next time you feel as though you have too many choices and you want to walk out of the store, take a deep breath and remember this advice:

(1) Look at mannequins.  It is true things don’t always look the same on a ‘normal’ body as they do on a mannequin, but often you can get your starting point of inspiration from a mannequin.  Looking at mannequins helps you zero in on the area of the store where you can find items you like.  Simply ask a sales associate to show you where you can find the blouse, bag or whatever it is that is catching your eye.

(2) Consider the color.  Stores are full of color choices from bold to rich to pastel to dull to non-existent (black).  If you know the colors that are most flattering on you, you can immediately rule out at least half the store and skip over the items in colors that do not personally enhance you.  If you do not know your best colors, see me for a personalized color analysis.  Your personalized color fan is a time and money-saving tool you will enjoy for many years!

(3) Remember proportion.  Are you petite?  Don’t waste your time in regular missy sizes.  Vice versa if you are not petite.  Are you a Women’s size?  A missy 16 is different than a 16W.  For instance, at least two extra inches are added through the bust of a 16W jacket and blouse. 

(4) Remember your age. Are you over the age of 21?  If so, stop shopping in the junior department.  I know, the prices of junior clothing are tempting, but junior clothes are not made for the curves of a woman’s body.  Besides cheap accessories, you are going to find little (if anything) that suits you in the junior department.

(5) Shop the catalog first.  If all else fails, simply pick up a store catalog or look online before going to the store so you can take your time in the privacy of your home.  Then when you are ready, find a good sales associate to help you locate the items that caught your eye.

If all else fails, call the expert – me!  I’d be happy to help you navigate the maze of the mall and pinpoint the items that are best for your shape, your lifestyle and your personality.