Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Note: this post is number 5 in a series where the Bitches attempt looks from the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style using clothes from our own closets.

Bombshell is a look that really doesn't require a lot of explanation.

Thanks to Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Sophia Loren, Betty Page, and dozens of other cinematic beauties of mid-20th century, the very word "Bombshell" is synonymous with sexy women. Classic Bombshell is pretty much exactly what you're picturing right now.

Just because the bombshell icons that come to mind were in their glory at least 50 years ago does not mean that there aren't some modern bombshell beauties out there

Witness, Dita Von Teese:

and Scarlett Johansson:

I probably also don't need to tell you that the classic bombshell look is all about boobs and butt: the fashions emphasize a curvy, womanly figure with fitted tailoring, sweetheart necklines, cinched-in, high-waisted skirts and trousers, sparkly things, corsets, leopard print, and high heels. Sexy, girly things.

It used to be that women who dressed sexy or wore snugly fitting clothes were viewed as promiscuous because of the potential for sex-appeal, but that's not the case anymore. Bombshell is a look that's worked its way well into our fashion vernacular. Modern bombshell clothes are empowering, confident.

Let me be clear on this point: I did not start out as a girly girl. I am a feminist. Growing up, I was a tomboy. I am still, in many ways, a tomboy. But for some reason, I seem to have a closet full of this stuff. Oh yes, Bombshell I can do . . .

Leopard? Check.

Michael Kors leopard print booby dress, Jessica Simpson heels in tomato red.
Why, yes, I do feel like Raquel Welch when I wear this dress.

The perfect bombshell jeans? I got 'em!

Karen Millen Corset belt from a blouse that didn't work out, BCBG cropped skinny jeans, Sisley white shirt, Steve Madden leopard print Mexican pole dancer shoes. Yes, I wear the hell out of those shoes.

Pencil skirt and tie-neck blouse? Checkity check!

Tie neck blouse from French Connection, J Crew black pencil skirt, BCBG Ivanka heel.

Naughty secretary outfit? Hells yes.

Zipper embellished top, high-waisted tweed pencil skirt with asymmetrical flounce, and color block court shoes from one of my favorite designers, Karen Millen. She seems to have just the perfect blend of fashion and fetish for me.

Bustier? I have several.

Boot cut Kors jeans, bustier and laser-cut peeptoe heels from Black House/White Market, a clothing store that seems to specialize in Bombshell.

How a tomboy ended up with a closet half-full of clothes designed to emphasize womanly features is obvious when I think about it. The older I've gotten, the more comfortable I've become with my femininity, and the less afraid I am of getting noticed—and these clothes are all about getting noticed. These pieces stay in the closet year after year because they fit and are flattering, no matter the season. The better I look in my clothes, the better I feel about myself, the longer I'll hang on to that bustier . . . and the perfect fitting pencil skirt . . . and those heels that make me feel like my legs are a mile long . . . Many of the bombshell pieces are classic pieces that work with other looks and are timeless to boot.

So, uh, girls? Don't be afraid to show off your girls. It doesn't mean you're a man-stealing trashy so-and-so (unless your job description happens to be "man-stealing trashy so-and-so"). It means you feel good about yourself and you're not afraid to show the world you are comfortable in your skin. As Jessica Rabbit said, "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Looking California, Feeling Minnesota

California Casual. I should be able to do this in my sleep, right? After all, it's how most of us, even without realizing it, probably dress. Although it references a particular geography, California Casual is the Everyman of the fashion world, the ability to dress casually and comfortably but still stylishly, and in so doing, subvert class in favor of lifestyle. Regardless of economic means, just about anyone can afford a well-fitting pair of jeans, a tee shirt, a jacket, or a cardigan.

California Casual fashion icons include Farrah Fawcett:

Goldie Hawn:

Her daughter, Kate Hudson:

Lauren Conrad:

Cameron Diaz:

And Jeniffer Aniston, who for me epitomizes the all-American beach babe, throw-on-a-pair-of-jeans-and-a-tee-and-a-jacket sensibility that has infiltrated American fashion to the point where you can't tell a CEO from a waitress just by what they're wearing on their off hours.

Key California Casual pieces include: gladiator sandals, stacked heel boots, tee shirts, button downs, flutter sleeve tunics, slouchy dolman-sleeved knit tops, cut off shorts, blue jeans, khakis, a-line and wrap skirts, denim and corduroy mini skirts, sun dresses, structured blazers, windbreakers, and aviator sunglasses. Anything that would look right at home on a surfer girl attending a Malibu beach bonfire party or a mommy-with-money antique-shopping along Ventura Boulevard.

Here's what I came up with:

Gap boot cut jeans, DKNY Jeans top, vintage Famolare Sandals,
vintage heirloom locket

What I wouldn't give for Famolare to make these Hi-Ups again. Soooooo comfortable!

Ralph Lauren cotton top, Eddie Bauer washable suede a-line skirt, Gianni Bini Campus Boots, thrifted scarf, el cheapo Mother of Pearl bracelet

Territory Ahead jean jacket, YaG Couture jersey dress, Anthropologie belt,
Steve Madden gladiator sandals

Cielo cotton jersey bat wing top, Banana republic scarf, Gap skinny jeans,
Gianni Bini lug-soled boots

Next on the agenda: Pirate lets loose with her inner Bombshell and I see if I can conjure up, like, Mod.

Monday, October 4, 2010


What was I thinking? I was thinking this Euro Chic thing would be super easy. I like Euro, I like Chic. I could throw together some random pieces from my closet and just coast for a week. I got this, thought I.

That is, until I started reading the fine print.

Style icons for Euro Chic:

Catherine Deneuve

An accomplished French actress and model (she was the face of Chanel for many years), Catherine Deneuve continues to be an inspiration of grace and style. Truly, she doesn't seem to be aging much at all. Many people remember her for the film Belle Du Jour, a moral tale in which she played a woman with a scandalous day job, but I love best a movie she did in the 60's that was an Academy Award winner, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, an odd musical with a jazz score, all in French—which she sang beautifully. I love it so, even though it makes my husband cringe.

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger, aside from being married to that rock star dude, represented a whole era of wealth and excess: wearing Halston, swanning around Studio 54, and hanging out with Andy Warhol. Nowadays she's a human rights activist with a colourful past, and still plays the part of a very expensively dressed socialite lady.

Princess Caroline of Monaco

Princess Caroline, the first born daughter of Grace Kelly, is the Princess of Monaco, where even the homeless people (if there were any) have better label acumen than I. Is there really more that needs to be said about her fashion reputation? I relate far better to Caroline's wild-child younger sister Princess Stephanie . . . but that is not the challenge at hand.


I love fashion. I get fashion. I have shopped in really expensive stores all over the world, and I know the difference between hot sale and haute couture, but these are some big shoes to fill. These are women who embody timeless classics. These are women who would probably never be caught wearing denim, certainly not shredded.

But let's read on anyway, shall we?

The signature look for Euro Chic includes lady-like jackets, expensive fabrics, and structured handbags. The key pieces include a big scarf, a well-proportioned oversize blazer, an elegant day dress or sheath, and a silk blouse. The colors are creams, blacks, greys. The heel heights are all sedate—nothing too high or too gaudy. The Lucky Guide seems to assume that these things are all theoretically in every woman's closet. In short, the look is all about rich old lady clothes. Think: Hermes, Lanvin, and Chanel.

I took a deep breath. I said "Versace!" three times and clicked my heels together:

I'm rich, beeyotch!

BCBG jacket from Moi's closet, BCBG big girl wrap scarf, BCBG silver silk blouse, 3/4 length trouser, and red slingback peep toe patent pumps by Nine West

This has all the Euro Chic elements: lady-like jacket that mimics the shape of the classic Chanel boucle jacket, a big fancy scarf, and a silk blouse. The colours are classic black and silver with red accents. If my wool trousers had been back from the cleaners, I think they'd have been a better choice than these cotton trousers, mainly because they were more expensive.

Closeup of silk blouse and giant scarf. The scarf is huge, vast, and the perfectly Euro Chic. Also, it's really big.

I'm loving the big scarf thing, it's a great alternative to trying to pick out exactly the right jewelry.

Day 2, I hum some jazz, and land on this.

jCrew black pencil skirt, jCrew Outlet pearl grey silk ruffle blouse, BCBG pinky-silver python kitten-heel mule.
(Note that I've acquired a second photographer, a patient co-worker who humors me if I buy her a Starbucks now and again.)

I got many complements on this outfit, which I was not expecting. I'd been wearing the ruffle front blouse paired with cargo pants and heels, and forgot that it was actually a really dressy piece. I found these shoes languishing in the back of my shoe pile. One of my first forays into heeled shoe purchases, they feature a modestly low heel and are made from some expensive looking reptile.

Note the J-Lo chain jewelry from Moi's closet: very Euro Chic in look, very not expensive to buy.

Princess Stephanie probably has a bajillion little day dresses and classic cut sheaths with pin tucks, but I bet hers don't look wrinkled the second she puts them on.

Marimekko for Anthropologie sheath dress, almond jCrew Juliet patent heels, pearls.

I love this dress, it has a flattering cut with an interesting pattern that doesn't overwhelm, and it hides so many flaws. I seem to get compliments every time I wear it. Sadly, it seems to be made of the most wrinkly cotton blend in existence, and thus, spends much of its life unworn. If it didn't look like I slept in it, I might wear it more often.

I burned a few brain cells to pull this Euro Chic thing off, but don't look too closely. Anyone who knows anything about labels would probably see right through my attempt at looking like I drove my gold-plated yacht to work. This is a look that can be parodied with less expensive clothing, but not achieved convincingly with the kind of labels I can afford.

I admit that the look did make me feel like a real grown-up for a week, and was particularly useful for client meetings. I would totally do this look again, even though I dislike using the term "lady-like."

Next up: Moi does California Casual. In her sleep . . .