Did you know you can use your FSA dollars towards Warby Parker prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, and eye exams? Don’t let your flexible spending account (FSA) dollars go to waste! Spring is the perfect time to refresh your look, while taking advantage of Flexible Spending Account funds.
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I recently had a lovely chat with someone who needs her hands free to work with her service dog, and avoids carrying even a backpack because of memory problems related to her disability. She usually wears cargo pants to carry her essentials, but longs to have other options.
I, myself, have been on the hunt lately for a chic, durable, affordable backpack. I consistently have a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, and it's aggravated by a tote bag– not to mention with my narrow my shoulders, I have to keep a hand on the strap to keep a bag in place. I'm curvy below the waist, so sporting a fanny pack or wearing cargos disrupts the sleek style lines I try to maintain, waist-down. Oh, to be hands-free!
Plenty of brands make travel-worthy clothes that pack easily and won't wrinkle, but still somehow expect you'll be packing a wardrobe of bags as well. Thank your lucky stitches, there's hope beyond cargo pants.
My uncle had introduced me to ScottEVest years ago, when they offered just one style of gimmicky but brilliant travel vest with an infinite number of pockets. Lo a bunch of years later, they now have a well-rounded line of women's garments as well.
I'm skeptical about the jersey skirts, which by their nature are drapey and stretchy and perhaps not ideal for loading up with pockets, but the tops are impressive. I love the chambray Charlotte, which would get heavy rotation in my wardrobe regardless of location.
ClothingArts is a brand I found in my research, again making an impressive showing with women's apparel after having success with men's pocketed travel apparel.
Based in Brooklyn, which is evident from their styling and branding, these are a few degrees further away from the outdoor apparel model. The wrap skirt is a nice achievement, and the dress is definitely on my wishlist, although it appears to be light on pocketing.
Another brand brought to my attention via a search, Clever Travel Companion focuses on jersey pieces for layering, foundations, or athleisure, rather than the more polished, business-casual-appropriate styling of SCOTTeVEST or ClothingArts.
Active and outdoor clothing also tends to feature more pockets, if it fits your personal style and lifestyle needs, although as I mentioned, these brands (and the ones featured above) tend to be designed for an athletic (i.e. not curvy) physique.
Marketplace is a fair trade brand I've admired for years (so does my mom!) and I've included them in my inspiration and shopping guides for fans of Judi Dench's wardrobe in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I love the Raipur tunic, so I was so excited to take the Sheila Shirt for a street test. I put together what I thought was a great outfit for a trip to the Connecticut shore on a bright autumn afternoon.
The Sheila Shirt is a more traditional European shirt style, with a button front and cuffs, made more feminine with a band collar and pin tucks across the front panels. The super soft cotton is a light tan with a great, abstract floral print in black.
Since a light color like this tends to make me look washed out, I layered a boxy, short-sleeved sweater in a black marled yarn.
Again, to balance all the volume on top, I wore fitted jeans. And my gray leather high-tops pulled it together comfortably for walking in town and at the park.
With slight shaping on the sides, and the more formal construction, this shirt would also do nicely for workwear– try it under Marketplace's Cocoon Jacket with slim black pants.
By far my favorite thing about the Sheila Shirt is the hand-embroidered, contrasting yoke. I am a complete sucker for unexpected details like this:
Marketplace is a fair trade brand I've admired for years (so does my mom!) and I've included them in my inspiration and shopping guides for fans of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
We decided to work together this holiday season because so many of you Analoguettes were looking for Best Exotic-inspired pieces, and Marketplace has a beatiful Holiday collection that you need to see– stay tuned here for the next installment.
Marketplace is a non-profit organization that offers modern apparel made by employee-run artisan co-ops using traditional textile techniques in India. The enterprise is not only maintaining cultural traditions, but empowering women and their families by providing enriching and supportive education and social opportunities in addition to paid employment. Read more about their history and model of economic development here.
For the brisk fall weather, I layered the 3/4-sleeve tunic over a long-sleeved blouse, and topped it with an upcycled Army vest. Then I channeled Stevie Nicks, and tied a big square scarf into a narrow, drapey style by using just one corner and letting the remaining length drift on the breeze.
I balanced the fullness on top by wearing fitted jeans, punctuated by a chunkier shoe– my trusty leather Converse high tops. I'm really over knee-high boots by now, but I would also wear this with a great bootie or calf-high boot.
Everything I'm wearing with the indigo Raipur is thrifted or otherwise secondhand, to boot! Yes, even the kicks!
I chose the indigo color option for the possibilities for pairing with denim and chambray. Subtle hand-embroidery in red on the bodice offers enough contrast for styling with more color and pattern, or let it speak for itself. It also comes in a brighter Lapis colorway.
The 3/4 sleeve makes this a great year-round option, easily layered for cool weather, or on its own in spring and summer. In 100% cotton, it is sooo soft.
The length is well past the hips, offering great coverage– tucks in the bodice make it fuller at waist and hips than it seems on the hanger, so don't worry if you're more ample below the waist (like me). I'm 5'6" and I'm wearing a Misses' medium. It also comes in a full range of Misses' and Womens' sizes.
On the other hand, if you like to have more waist definition, the Raipur top could be cinched in with a wide belt or a scarf tied obi-style. Or even wear it with a fitted vest!
This alpaca is also named Allie.
Exclusively for readers of the Analogue Chic Blogue,
My original post on the styles of Best Exotic has gotten so much love since the first film came out– and the producers graced us with its sequel this year! It's been a huge inspiration to women everywhere: the South Asian-inspired costumes worn by Judi Dench and Co. in the film looked so elegant, comfortable, and flattering.
Lots of readers wanted to know where to find the tunics, scarves and jewelry, and I put up a few links to retailers that I know and trust. But pages move, styles sell out, links break.
So, here's my go-to guide to shopping online for your very own Best Exotic style! I've focused on ethical and fair trade producers, so you can support skilled artisans with your purchase. I'll try to keep the links as up to date as possible. And please let me know if you're looking for something particular, or if you know of a great source you'd like to share!
In no particular order:
Flax– Another cult brand! Based on linen in classic shapes. Also find your local (US) store with this link.
Deva Lifewear – natural fiber apparel produced via a cottage industry, made in the USA. The beloved brand has been rescued and revived by a former contractor! Canadian & international orders require a money order.
For more general inspiration on this style, be sure to check out my Pinterest board!
Over the past couple of years, I have not been able to help my UK readers shop the looks from Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and it's been quite frustrating for us all!
Not having an Analogue Shopper on the ground there, I can only offer some generic advice that is, admittedly, far less convenient than a link to an online brand:
Best results would probably come from a tailor in a South Asian neighborhood in a city near you. Show them pictures of the kurta you want to replicate, and they can likely make something very similar, to your measurements. I have no idea what kind of investment that would be.
If you don't want to put in the effort or funds for a custom piece, try the Indian and Pakistani shops for a readymade option, or an imports/hippie shop in an artsy neighborhood. :)
Surprisingly, I did not find any Etsy sellers in the UK that offer tunics or kurtas. But I did find a Burda pattern, style #8501, which you may want to purchase (or at least note the style number) and have a local seamstress make up for you.
UK Analoguettes, what resources can you share to help your fellow readers feel comfy and beautiful? Please add a comment, or send me a message, and I'll compile a list.
If you've been reading this blogue for a while, you know I don't give a hoot about awards shows or celebrity worship of any kind (except for our patron saints, Saint Carole, Saint Katharine, and Saint Lauren, amen).
But occasionally, some fantastic lady who happens to be famous will wear something I really like.
This time it's the Golden Globes, and we need to talk about Melissa McCarthy.
Melissa (and/or her stylist– she's a busy lady, we're not judging) reportedly hacked together this dress from separates she already owned!
It's a playful, menswear-inspired twist on a formal gown. AND SHE WORE RED SHOES! I mean, come on!
It's a time-tested formula, and she rocked it for her petite-plus shape. She kept all the interest above the waist, pared down the jewelry, and smoothed out her lovely lady lumps with a long, tiered skirt.
Honorary Analoguette Checklist:
black and (almost) white (OK, it's blush pink.)
Melissa has hinted at creating her own fashion line in the past, and it seems like it's in the pipeline for this fall! She apparently started courses at FIT, but dropped out to do stand-up, and the rest is history. So this celebrity fashion line will be the real deal, not just a licensing deal. Can't wait!
Meanwhile, I put together some resources if you want to try this look for yourself.
This blouse at Lane Bryant was the closest thing I could find to Melissa's satiny blouse. It has an interesting ruffled collar and flattering 3/4 sleeves. And it's from Pendleton = better quality than the usual LB.
Yesterday I found 2 amazing examples of objets made from vintage jewelry.
This person on Ebay apparently makes floral/botanical collages on velvet. This floral bouquet is gorgeous. So Victorian.
Here's the thing about Rebecca Purcell. I have owned her book Interior Alchemy for almost 2 decades now. I think I bought it at Barnett Books, this overstock book store in Wallingford… I was so entranced with her style of decorating, her use of vintage objects, and layering of materials. Years later, I found out that the book has cult status and ABC Carpet is a big deal. Eileen Fisher's Pinterest account just posted a series of her necklaces composed of vintage jewelry. Delve into Rebecca's world— and keep an eye out for her upcoming book.
Analoguettes, I'm very pleased to presentFaire Collection's new fall / winter '14 line, Midnight Collection, inspired by the French Belle Epoque period (1890-1910)– one of my absolute fave eras, for fashion, art, and eccentric characters.
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