Sunday, December 29, 2013

Just A T-Shirt And Jeans

As you know, I like me a bit of whimsy, and embellishments certainly fall very squarely into that category. The embellished trend has been around a few seasons now. Like so many trends in fashion, embellishment-mania was likely ignited by herself, the Universal Arbiter of The Stylish, Miuccia Prada. Prada's embellishments for her Miu Miu line in the fall of 2009 exploded onto the scene, and subsequently onto the skirts, sweatshirts, and socks of the fashion crowd.

Lucky for me, you can now find various permutations of embellished everything in just about every high street retailer, for very reasonable prices. Let's face it, most of us are not going to wake up every day and reach for a fully-embellished, tailored suit. It's just not practical. For those of us who are not fashion editors, embellishment is more of a fun, statement piece to be worn under something, or even by itself. Another easy way to look interesting even when you are just in a t-shirt and jeans.

This chiffon snake-print tee was on the clearance rack at River Island in Glasgow. I'm digging it. It's easy to wear, drapes beautifully, and adds a bit of texture and interest to anything you put it with.

 River Island chiffon tee similar / thrifted Armani jeans, similar / 14K London Blue Topaz ring (old), similar / Hot Diamondswatch (old), similar / Kelsi Dagger booties, similar

This post was happily shared with Not Dead Yet Style's Visible Monday

Embellished Tees.  Make it Happen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ski Chic

I recently read an article in Vogue UK titled "Vogue's Guide to Ski Chic".  In said article, author Emily Sheffield gives us advice on how those of us who like to hit the slopes can do so with great panache and style, a feat that is apparently achieved most effectively by not ever going skiing.
How to be ski chic? Well, the quick answer to that question is "don't ski". The outfits are puffy, the cold plays havoc with your skin - never mind the chaos of your hair - and struggling with skis and poles akimbo is not as easy a pose to carry off as lying on a beach, elegantly covered in a wrap.

Yes. All of these things are true. The gear can be cumbersome and the outfits puffy; not like the oft fantasised-about "ski bunny" outfits that consist of a pair of skintight leggings and a fur-trimmed silver parka. Last year, I actually saw a girl on the slopes in a very high-end ski outfit that resembled just that. She looked great, but all I could think about was that she could not possibly be warm enough in that outfit...I mean, it was was she not dead?

Your makeup, if you are brave enough to wear anything other than sunscreen, will likely come off. You will need a hat, or even a helmet. That's right...a helmet. You'll clomp unglamorously into the chalet for your lunch in your Frankenstein-esque ski boots, peeling off layers along the way, your hair pasted to your head, And of course, there is always the very real possibility that you might fall on your ass, skis and poles scattering the pristine landscape, a particular move otherwise known as the "yard sale."

Yet for those who are inclined to ski, or do any other "unglamorous" sporty activity for that matter, the idea of missing out on an opportunity to participate for reasons of flat hair, dry skin, and unflattering clothing seems absurd. Perhaps if you are a celebrity, with a rear-end insured for five million dollars and a string of paparazzi following your every move, you might have to worry about such things (certainly there are those who go to places like Gstaad or St. Moritz simply to see and be seen).  I like to think that the rest of us recognise that the flat hair and windburned cheeks we are sporting look exactly like the flat hair and windburned cheeks of every other skier in the chalet.

If you ask me, there is nothing less chic than existing in a constant state of anxiety over what one looks like every waking moment. We've all known that person, and she's a right pain in the keester.

To be fair, Sheffield's article does go on to provide some actual tips for dressing for the slopes. Or more accurately, hanging-around near the slopes: moon boots, simple colours, and classic ski knits are all good advice. I take issue with her assessment that all one-piece ski suits are passé. The entire population of ESF instructors (École du Ski Français) wears them for the warmth, and there are some modern options out there that are far-removed from the graphic neon atrocities of the eighties. Her recommendation of being prepared for cocktails and black tie depends wholeheartedly on where you are going and with whom.  Personally,  I prefer a casual ski holiday.  After all, the main attraction is supposed to be the mountains, is it not?

Make it happen.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas. Now Run for Your Lives!


This is what I'm doing right now. No, I mean, it's not me making the wind.....I'm not Mother Nature, or Zeus, or whatever your thing is. I just meant hunkering down. We're all hunkering right now here in Scotland, and if I do say so myself, we're getting quite good at it. 

Not the best weather for photo taking either. My Christmas outfit of the day plans have been blown out to sea, along with a lot of other flotsam and jetsam; hats, toupees, umbrellas...all sorts. So instead, we'll take a Christmas walk down memory lane. Highland Fashionista is about to turn 2 this year, and I can't believe how time has flown. Enjoy this, the first-ever post I did when the blog was brand new.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bad Weather Inspiration: Texture

On a recent trip, I brought with me the backlog of magazines that have been piling-up at home. As much as I love technology, I still like to get the paper copies of my favourite fashion magazines in the mail; it's a bit like Christmas every time I hear one make its distinctive thud when it falls through the mail slot. Plus, I love the way they smell. I know, weird, right? But those perfume samples, the little cardboard blow-in cards, the thick, glossy paper...they all blend together to make a unique smell. If Demeter (the folks that brought us fragrances like popcorn, frozen margarita, and laundromat) made a "Fashion Magazine" fragrance, I would be all over that. An old school paper fashion magazine is a tactile and olfactory assault that lends itself  to a visceral experience that you just can't replicate with an iPad. My iPad smells of hand lotion, easy-peel tangelos,  and spilled latte. Which come to think of it, might be good too. Demeter, call me.

These are some of my favourite images from Vogue USA and Elle UK from everything from the massive September issue right through the current issue. I am particularly dying for that Tom Ford zebra dress in the middle, although my innate pragmatism (not to mention my wallet) would just not allow me to go there. Remember, I live in the Highlands.

These images represent for me the perfect inspiration for dressing for the typical, apocalyptic winter weather we are experiencing here in Scotland right now, as I'm sure many of you are experiencing where you live. Except those of you who are perhaps in the more southern climates (hello Floridians, Arizonans, and my southern Mediterranean readers). We northerners are resenting you for your light jackets and cotton blends right now, so you'd best keep a low profile while we discuss the best way to go outside in this weather without dying. For us, mixing interesting textures, whether they be tactile textures or visual ones, is a great way to add interest to an outfit without adding too many fussy elements that will just get ruined by the weather. This week, I am all about texture. Here are some of my picks. For more, you can visit the This Week's Picks tab at the top of the page.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Le Non Smoking

You'll have to forgive me these photos. It's raining. Again. In Scotland. Enough said. 

Let's talk about my look.  This is my budget Highlands version of YSL's iconic 1966 "Le Smoking" female tuxedo; the sartorial shot heard round the world that changed everything about how we look at eveningwear.  Having been a working professional musician for years, I am certainly no stranger to the wearing of a tuxedo. Really, I took it for granted, thinking of it as the official uniform of the underpaid wedding dance and bar mitzvah. But that was then. 

I now have a much deeper appreciation for a simple tux now that I am no longer required to wear one regularly. Funny how that happens. These days, there is less of a need to blend in with the boys in the band when I choose a tuxedo or dark suit type of arrangement, so I like to deconstruct it a little and not worry so much about sticking to the classic white shirt and a tie thing, although you really can't beat the classics. 

I wore a slightly more rock-and-roll version of this look to a work's night out last night. I wore the top as you see it here, cinched-in with the leather obi belt, but wore a pair of skinny grey denim jeans on the bottom with my grey Vince Camuto sparkle cap toe booties.  Any excuse to wear the sparkle cap toe booties, I'm there. And you know, I felt pretty awesome in my budget Highland Le Non Smoking tux. I felt kind of powerful, like a well-tailored badass secret operative; a one-woman island of chic austerity surrounded by a sea of sequins, bandage dresses, push-up bras, and velvet. A less is more approach to standing out in a crowd. A look that says "yes, I may be understated, but don't mess with me...I may or may not be packing heat under this obi belt."

Thrifted Hervé Bernard Jacket, similar /  Armani cotton tank / Edun straight cut black denim trousers (no longer available), similar / Stuart Weitzman patent pumps / ASOS leather obi belt, sterling silver and topaz ring, similar

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Man Gifts: 2014 Edition-Part 3

Let's get right to it, shall we? Time's a wastin'! This, the final two suggestions from Man Gifts 2014 will focus on the pragmatic. Luxury can still creep its way in though, don't you worry. We haven't become completely uncivilised here at Highland Fashionista. Happy shopping everyone!

Some Fancy-Schmancy Shaving Stuff

I often read interviews with Tom Ford, who always says that when it comes to a beauty or grooming routine, it should be luxurious and ritualistic. I completely agree. When you think of how much time a guy spends shaving, it makes that aluminium can of Barbasol and that Bic razor seem kind of...well, barbaric, doesn't it?

A Box

Okay, maybe I should elaborate a bit more. In my house, there are always piles of stuff which I lovingly refer to as piles of "man mess": coins, receipts, bits and know, stuff.  I would have no issue with this, were it not for the fact that every once in a while, other things get sucked into its vortex: cufflinks, kilt pins, the one key that opens that lock on that thing....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Lady Loves a Bargain


It's true, I do love me a bargain. With the final run up to Christmas upon us, there is a veritable tsunami of discounts sweeping the internet. The days of waiting until January for a bargain are over. Whether you are still shopping for others or taking my preferred "one for you, one for me" approach to holiday shopping, do not be lured into a panic-induced, full-price smash and grab. Today I have amassed some of my favourite, and in my opinion most useful, discount links on the web. Here, need to elbow your way through the sweaty masses. Unless you're into that kind of thing. I don't judge.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Small Statements

Not all days are meant for full speed ahead print mixing, riotous colour displaying, accessory dripping, neon dip-dyed craziness. Some days you just want to make a small statement.

This simple look was inspired by a gorgeous merino blend sequin collar sweater I had tried on at J. Crew while I was in the States.  I was standing there in the dressing room, thinking to myself how I had to have this amazing sweater, while simultaneously trying to justify my budget in my head. The sweater itself was a simple heather grey crew neck, like so many that I already have (I like the way they look with my hair). My ruminating led me to the realisation that it wasn't so much the sweater that I was so in love with, it was the embellishment. Feeling better, I put the sweater back, and concentrated on accessories.

A statement necklace instantly elevates a look (particularly a jeans look), and adds depth and dimension to your existing wardrobe pieces. I got this particular one on Ebay, but there are so many out there is's dizzying. This is how I like to dress for everyday. Nice enough to go someplace, but not so overworked that you are trying too hard. And of course, I couldn't resist adding a pop of colour with the shoes (the photos do not do them justice, they're a bright neon coral) and some shocking fuchsia lipstick. Forget what I said earlier about me not wanting to wear colour on some days. Who was I trying to kid?

 This post has been happily shared with for Visible Monday!          

Make it Happen    

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Man Gifts: 2014 Edition-Part 2

Welcome back everyone. I hope that if you've been out battling the crowds Christmas shopping this weekend, you are currently lying in a sudsy bath with your iPod in your ears and cucumber slices on your eyes. Here is part 2 of 3, two more suggestions for the perfect man gift this season.

Cases For his Gadgetry

Perhaps he is the type of guy who painstakingly researches iPhone cases on the Internet for hours, coming-up empty handed.  Or perhaps he just tosses his iPad into his suitcase and leaves everything to chance. Whatever the case (ahem) may be, there are options aplenty out there this season.

Cashmere Everything

Cashmere is synonymous with the holiday season. Even if you live in a warmer climate there is a plethora of socks, t-shirts, and pajama-type arrangements to choose from so that you might give him that wee slice of luxury. Just be sure to test the quality first. There is a lot of cashmere floating about this time of year that is a bit...peelie-wallie (as they say here in Scotland). Feel the fabric, and check the ply. Generally, the bigger the ply, the more luxurious the cashmere.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Man Gifts: 2014 Editon-Part 1

It's that time again. The eggnog is in the stores (so gross),  we are starting to sees houses festooned with lights in Clark Griswald-like fashion, and the holiday music ear worm has been successfully implanted for another season. Naturally, our thoughts turn to gift giving. Gifts for men have always been a bit of an enigma. Sure, you can just do the pragmatic thing and ask him what he wants and be done with it, but I like a little suspense in my holidays. So with no further adieu, here's the Man Gifts 2014 shortlist, part one of three. Just two simple ideas per post as to not overwhelm. Because let's face it, holiday gift shopping is nothing if not overwhelming.

A Man Bag

Yes, I know that this was on the list last year, but here it is again. This is one of those gifts that for most of us, is both grounded-in and inspired-by reality. Reality as in, being in the airport, and having to wait for him to set down his carry-on bag and dig through all the loose papers and socks and whatnot to get to the boarding passes. Again. He says he doesn't need one of these.  Yet a good man bag has a designated space for a laptop, iPad, phone, pens and pencils, books, a lunch, and yes, a boarding pass. He needs it. You know it, he knows it. 

Lounge Pants

Sure, this falls firmly into the non-glamourous category, but be honest, he will use them. So I figure either you can look at him padding around the house in that same pair of skeevy, marinara-stained sweatpants for another 12 months, or you can choose something lovely, maybe even with some cashmere or silk. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Naturally, Now It's All On Sale!

It never fails. When you spend a lot of time thinking, writing, photographing, and wearing clothes, you inevitably see the stuff that you absolutely had to have earlier on in the season go on sale. It reminds me of why I hardly ever pay full price for anything. Excepting a few things on this list. But never mind. My recklessness can be your gain. Remember some of these looks from my posts over the summer? Like them? Well, you can now get all of these things for a lot better price than I did. Merry Christmas. Don't say I don't ever do anything nice, however begrudgingly.

Clockwise from upper left corner 

 Sofft Boone "Chukka" boots $159.99 $59.00  

J. Crew Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater  $248.00 $169 - $199 

Gap 1969 Always Skinny camo ankle pants (pink only) $69.95 $39.99 / £26.99

 Clarks Boots "Heath Woodlark" (limited sizes and colours) $119.00 £45.00

Sam Edelman "Lorissa" pumps (limited colours and fabrications) $225.00 $157 - $159

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I would love to be able to claim that these photos were shot inside in order to take advantage of the windowpane theme, cleverly incorporating the windowpane motif of my top with the French doors inside our house. The reality is that it was so cold and rainy outside, even if I could have stood it long enough to take a photo (nope), the wind just simply wouldn't allow me to do so. I had hair stuck to my lipgloss the instant I walked outside. That's a great look. Such is the fate of the personal style enthusiast who lives in Scotland.

I found this Narcisco Rodriguez for Design Nation top last June while I was home in the U.S. on a thrifting mission, and have been meaning to show it to you for a while.  I forget how much I paid for it, but it would have been pretty cheap.  It is 100% silk, and I love the cropped, boxy shape and the windowpane trim. It even came with a silk camisole built-in, which I love, because I find sheer items to be kind of a pain in the ass sometimes;  you often have to put just as much thought into what goes underneath the sheer top as you do the entire look, if not more. I tend to shy away from sheerness for that very reason. I like things that are easy to wear. I tend not to reach for them otherwise.

In addition to its ease of wear, like so many of my printed and textured wardrobe items, this top is an accessory unto itself, and requires very little in the way of accompaniment. Perfect for getting ready in a hurry.

Thirfted Narcisco Rodriguez for Design Nation silk top, J. Crew mohair cardigan, thrifted Armani A/X jeans, Nine West boots 

Make it Happen

Thursday, December 5, 2013

FarFetch + Bompas & Parr

This evening,  I had the pleasure of taking part in Farfetch's Google hangout featuring culinary designers Bompas & Parr. If you are not familiar with Bompas & Parr, check them out here, you will not be disappointed. Last night was the penultimate instalment in a series they have been doing for Farfetch exploring food, fashion, and festive illuminations.  

Bompas & Parr have also done an edit on the Farfetch website of pieces that reflect their colourful, joy-laden ethos (one for women and one for men), and the print and colour lover in me couldn't be happier with their picks. Their edit represents everything I love about fashion; it is a joyous riot of colour and pattern, mixed with some structured foundational pieces that are very modern and edgy. As they state in the website's interview, colour and pattern work really well when you are working with food, as you tend to get it all over you. This sounds remarkably like something that another iconic print-wearer used to say; Lilly Pulitzer used to favour prints while working her orange juice stand in Florida, later giving birth to the empire that we know it as today. This bright, citrusy, calamitous joy is contagious, and I am going back there after I publish this post to have an even closer look. If there is any aftermath, you'll see it soon enough. In the meantime, here are my favourite highlights from their edit. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Winter Uniform, Revisited

I know I'm always banging-on about my winter uniform for Scotland, which is always some permutation of skinny trousers, a sweater or shirt with ease, and a cropped jacket layered on top. I also usually add a scarf, although I thought this particular jacket was better without one. This year is no exception to my usual winter fare, except I am trying to keep the colour going. The next time you're out and about this winter, have a look around at everybody. You will most likely see a sea of black and other muted, "fall/winter-approrpiate" tones. While the dark, cold weather certainly makes you want to hibernate in dark colours, I am resisting the urge.  Colour also serves a more pragmatic function as well; my husband will be able to spot me easily in a crowd when we go shopping in the city.

Make it Happen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What to Wear When You Kinda Hate What You're Wearing

We recently got new uniforms at work. In the interest of keeping one's job, I'm not going to go over the gritty details of said uniforms beyond the above arty-vague photo, but let's just hypothetically say that when I put it on, I feel a little piece of my fashion soul die. 

I am no stranger to the wearing of a uniform. Quite the contrary. I have successfully worn many different uniforms over the years without incident. More than I can show you in one sitting. I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur.  Consider exhibit A.

See? Uniforms.

It must truly be Karma repaying me for my vanity that a person who loves clothes and fashion as much as I do would have to spend so much time wearing various permutations of institutional-grade clothing. The joke is not lost on me. I get it Karma…you're a bitch. Yet the question remains, how does a person who holds self-expression through fashion in such high regard live with herself when she is forced to wear something so….nondescript?

There is certainly not a fixed solution for everybody, but here is what I try to bring to the sartorial table as I toil my day away, pulling up my trousers every 15 minutes or so (note to uniform pant makers….it's either a drawstring or an elastic waistband. Not both. They do not work well together).  Here are a few of my survival tips.

Give yourself a waistline any gosh darn way you can

if you are wearing a shirt that can be tucked-in successfully, do it. Even better if there is a belt in the equation. If tucking-in is not an option, make sure your shirt fits well, and isn't baggy. Get it tailored if you must. If it is a cheap, terrible, flimsy, un-alterable fabric that just kind of lies there (like mine), invest in a cardigan if you're allowed. Choose one that is a quality fabric, but that you can wash in the machine, like a lot of the merino or cotton blends out there. Find one that tapers and hits right at the waistband. If you want to look even more streamlined, button just the middle button or two to draw the eye inwards and create the illusion of a waist. This is what I do, and it works. Come to think of it, it's a good all-around tip for layering. Added bonus, the cardigan hides the unconscionable fabrication of whatever might lie beneath if you feel the need to minimise the damage.

Wear High Quality Jewellry & Accessories

You would be surprised how often people notice your accessories when you are wearing a uniform. I suppose it has to do with the fact that you are essentially a walking blank backdrop. The trick is to keep it balanced and appropriate for the type of uniform you're in (in other words, loads of bling and camouflage …not so good). You also have to find that balance of what's allowed per your uniform policy and work within the constraints. I have been known to push the boundaries on this one a wee bit in the interest of creativity and sartorial flair, but you have to pick your moment. This comes with experience. To me, wearing high quality accessories with your uniform hints to the world at your exceptionally good taste, despite the fact that you may be wearing flame-retardant polyester with an elasticised waistband.

Fresh Socks

I know, this sounds like the advice your mother might have given you, akin to wearing clean underwear in case you get into an accident (also true, trust me).

 I should also state here that I am not a wearer of socks outside of my work environment. I very rarely wear them, even in winter. For me, they are for work, and for wearing with boots. However,  in a uniform, they are de rigeur.  While I'm not bothered with finding the silkiest, most luxurious silk or cashmere socks to wear to work, I am always on the lookout for something fun. Just to give me a lift. Again, you have to work with your uniform policy. If you are in an environment that requires something specific, you're kind of tied to that. If you can get interesting ones for work, do so. I never thought of myself as a fun socks person until I accidentally bought some once, and then found myself reaching for them every time I got ready for work. Because I rarely get to sit down at my job, it's kind of like a subtle wee surprise when I do, with this little flash of polka dot or fair isle (or whatever) sticking out the bottom of my pant leg. Call me cheesy, but somehow it makes you feel better, because you picked it out.

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