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Level 99—Anatomy of a Classic
There was a time when women in the U.S. wore dresses. Not much else … just dresses. They looked great, sure. But with dresses day-in, day-out came certain restrictions, limitations, sacrifices and added fuss. Then there was a time when women wore dresses … and “slacks” on the side. Now (thankfully) a woman wears whatever she wants. And, to say jeans are a “popular” look or varied in their options is an understatement. Since the 1960s when women started really getting ahead and going for it, jeans have pretty much become the “uniform” of the day. They go where we go; they can withstand some harsh resistance; and they face the day with a cool grace.
With such a high wearability ranking, this is one of those things that you want to get right. You want a flattering fit and a durable fabric. You want different looks from day to day. Sophisticated-casual clothiers Level 99 is helping women get their comfort classics one stitch at a time. Since 2004 they’ve offered quality jeans made with cutting edge textile trends and techniques. The chic brand offers a lot of different fits (loose and casual, form-fitting and tailored) and style ideations. With a little help from Level 99 all women can dress with confidence and ease, channeling Charlotte Gainsbourg’s minimalist wisdom or Rachel Zoe’s personalized boho mastery. Charlize Theron, Olivia Wilde, Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker and Miranda Kerr are fans of this fashion house, and the brand’s already been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, InStyle, Nylon, Cosmo and more. We love what they do with linen, twill, leather and faux suede, too.
Admit it—the jeans in your closet work hard. Like, really hard. They go from an errand-filled Saturday morning to an oyster-slurping Saturday night. We throw a pair of dark skinnies in with our blazers and pumps for abbreviated work trips—just in case—and make sure our best boyfriends are washed and ready for the weekend at the lake house. It’s comforting to know a great pair of jeans could last us years … maybe even decades. Like wine or cheese or other little luxuries, your favorite denims only get better with age—with each wash and fold and Friday night this unsung hero of fashion becomes only more lived in and more your own. So next time you wax poetic about some of the more colorful or glam clothing articles of life consider this: What is American style without the simple jean? Take a glance back in time and then study today’s possibilities. We’ve come a long way, no?Read More
Jessica Alba: Tolani Super Fan
Jessica Alba, we salute you! You are a shining example of beauty and brains on the West Coast. You are a busy mom and talented actress who also happens to be involved in numerous charities that promote healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Beyond all that, you are also the visionary founder of The Honest Company--a brand which promotes convenient, affordable products that are good for the body and good for the earth.
Oh yeah, you’ve got some solid style skills, too. We’ve noticed.
It’s no secret JA loves her scarves. But what many people don’t know is that the Little Fockers polished-but-feisty “Andi Garcia” is a huge (super?) fan of the Tolani collection and Tolani scarves in particular...even in hot L.A. Alba’s love affair with the Tolani scarf was first documented way back in 2007 when People StyleWatch noted her brand loyalty as she sported Tolani’s Honeycomb model.
More recently, we can’t help but notice the glowing entrepreneur looks very Old Hollywood when she dons the Tolani Leopard Infinity Scarf with a neutral top, skinny jeans and shades.
Tolani scarves and Jessica Alba. Might they be the new peanut butter and jelly?Read More
Rails Hunter Button Down
Comfort is Calling
Never venture into the woods without the right supplies. Make sure you’ll have a roof over your head (either nylon tent or glass-walled cottage nestled deep in the trees). Appropriate footwear, of course. Some edibles (take-out menus will suffice at some venues), survival supplies (ropes, knives, fishing poles and things) and lots of books. The next part is key: when communing with nature it is imperative one pack lightly, but well. Wool socks for warmth. Your best nubby sweater. A shirt that couldn’t feel more natural ... in which case, the Rails Hunter Button Down might be just the ticket.
This is the type of shirt you unapologetically frolic in, live in, lend out, perpetually look for and love. The Rails Hunter Button Down comes in all sorts of great plaid color combos like Ultra Violet, Coral/Navy, Midnight/Forest, and the ever-classic Red/Black Mini Check. Even fashion gurus Gisele and Kourtney Kardashian (pregnant Kourtney and not pregnant Kourtney, mind you) were spotted wearing the finely crafted Rails Hunter Shirt with its fold-over collar and jaunty patch breast pocket. It’s a wearable style that offers a more casual option for breezy summer nights on the beach or sitting around a fire for a while in the woods. Its long sleeves and button cuffs are sure to ward away the chill.
Rail shirts stand out from the pack with their vibrant colors (mentioned above), loose weave and ultra soft texture. The fit on the Hunter is super relaxed. Just hand wash and hang dry for a shirt that won’t shrink on you or do other strange and unwelcome things.
For daily wear, you can’t go wrong pairing this lovable top with a quilted vest and your favorite, boyfriend jeans. Or, layer it beneath a roomy anorak with grey skinny jeans and buttery brown leather riding boots. To venture into territory a little more unexpected--the single-layer, 100 percent Rayon Rails Hunter Button Down Shirt would wake things up under a leather jacket; or cap off a black skirt and tight black crop. How creative can you get?
Rails Clothing’s motto is “relaxed but always refined”, and this shirt certainly fits that philosophy to a T. Creator Jeff Abrams started his business back in 2008 with a single hat. Rails has now emerged as a lifestyle brand with a distinct focus on comfort, careful tailoring and of-the-moment designs--like this beaut of a long-sleeved, buttoned-up, plaid-as-plaid-can-be shirt.Read More
Born to Design: A Story about Lines
Although Donna Mizani is barely in her 30s, the avant-garde designer knows exactly who she is. The rising star with long, dark hair and intelligent brown eyes is making a name for herself in the business of cutouts, front slits … and a little thoughtfully executed mesh. And so far the bird’s eye view of her work is breathtakingly cool and collected. When you think “Donna Mizani Clothing” think racerfront tops and crops that do justice to gorgeous abs. She is also known for her sleek skirts and mod dresses with sweet cap sleeves and sassy hemlines. You’ll notice some of her stuff featured in the pages of People StyleWatch, Cosmopolitan and In Touch Weekly. The Donna Mizani Clothing Facebook page showcases young celebs and an inviting, editorial fashion sense. She recently had a “Who Wore it Best” with Giuliana Rancic and Mara Teigan in a simple white mock-neck crop top. Rancic paired the top with a pretty print skirt and white pumps, while Teigan kept it basic with a white slit skirt (also Mizani).
So? Who is this newbie, dealing in fresh fashion? And how does she get it so right?
Mizani is a native New Yorker who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown L.A. Her goal: create all-new looks that would “enhance and flatter the female physique”. Mizani debuted her first Ready-to-Wear collection in 2009, and now she and her sister run the biz in L.A.’s Garment District, where each piece is manufactured with care. She says she is influence by her urban lifestyle, travels to Europe, Asia and Latin America, and her close-knit Family. Mizani also has a deep love for drawing and art—and it shows. She is nothing if not faithful to her vision.
These are clothes with strong lines, created for women who don’t mind standing out in the crowd. Donna Mizani Dresses can be playful or structured. She often toys with asymmetrical lines and see-through fabrics, and her skirts follow suit. Perhaps most popular is the Donna Mizani Midi Skirt—with its shapely lines and classic Mizani touches here and there.
In this collection you’ll find a Donna Mizani Dress or skirt has tons of mix-and-match potential with the right shoe, top or jewelry … which is just what women want: a comfortable, high quality item that can easily go anywhere. This line is an A+ for women who are bold, confident, style conscious, and always on-the-go.Read More
A Pretty Plaid for Anywhere
This shirt reminds me of a confident “city girl” who always keeps her country roots close to her heart. She’s full of life, living it up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and riding the L Train into Manhattan every morning with her fellow stylists, bloggers, researchers, call center mavens and marketers. A carload of folks doing the daily grind and, every now and then, making dreams come true. The daytime is all business and street style. But when she returns home in the evening the laptop hits the floor. This girl rolls up her sleeves and goes to town making a London Broil and a batch of Guinness cupcakes for her roommates. She strategizes which weekend, exactly, she’ll pack up her pickup with pup Nigel and head back to her chestnut Appaloosa and chicken coop on a little patch of land in Somewhere, Virginia.
When you spy this extra sweet Rails Britt Button Down Shirt, in a myriad of pretty color combinations (we’re partial to the Pink/Marine) and 100% Rayon, your first instinct may be “toss it on over cutoffs and grab the hobo bag”. That works. Of course it does. But now look a little closer: this easygoing button-up with double chest pockets will go almost anywhere you go. The tender, rolled short-sleeve adds panache (and we love what a good cap sleeve does to our arms!) while the semi-relaxed fit paints a sophisticated silhouette for an ensemble that can traverse urban boulevards or down-home country lanes.
Lifestyle brand Rails Clothing has made the radar of fashion bloggers and celebrities for years now. Mila Kunis wore the Rails Britt Shirt when she had little Wyatt Isabelle in utero. And Kourtney K. (a devoted fan of Los Angeles native Jeff Abrams and his tailored designs) sported the Britt while filming on Keeping Up.
Fashion bloggers seem to be in love with the easy wearability of Rails and this sinfully soft topper in particular. Throw on an A-line skirt over the top of the Britt, step into some short suede booties, and don your aviators and fave fall bag ala Arielle Nachmani of the haute blog Something Navy.
This is one of those pieces that manages to be classic and comfortable. A timeless top that feels good to put on over and over … and over again. Once again, wearable proof that a little simplicity can feel so rich.Read More
Nation Ltd. Clothing is a fun, laid-back brand on a mission. You can see it in the precise perfection behind every Nation Ltd. dress, Nation Ltd. tank and of course, Nation Ltd. t-shirt. Nation’s founder, Jen Menchaca, claims that after studying PR in school, waitressing in NYC, and working for Hollywood in LA, she finally segued into the fashion and design biz (naturally) by looking to recreate her dad’s uber soft, white (in theory), v-neck tees. So she toiled and toiled until she got it just right. A noble pursuit indeed. Because let’s be honest, like a modern-day Cinderella, we are all looking for our own ‘perfect white tee’.
Menchada says the 100% cotton jersey Classic V-Neck Fall tee is “the shirt I’m most proud of … my friends say it’s like Dad’s old tee shirt (minus the yellow underarm stains and smell of Pierre Cardin).” Hm. Sounds (smells?) like success! And this baby is machine wash and tumble dry so that makes life a tad easier, too.
It doesn’t end with shirts, though. Nation Ltd. dresses keep the theme of comfy goodness going in dress format, too. The Cassidy Dress short sleeved mini with its deep-v and ruched sides is 38% cotton and has a burnout wash. This one comes in heather gray, marsala or moss. Cassidy would no doubt be awesome with booties and bracelets ...maybe a long, warm wrap sweater over the top.
I can’t get enough of a Dolman silhouette and the Nation Ltd. brand has those, too. The Ginny Dolman Mini makes for a super comfortable option to wear for drinks and dinner at someone’s house or decked out with jewels at a nicer restaurant. Always appreciate the longer sleeves paired with a short, sassy skirt.
Nation Ltd.tanks are good, solid staples in everyday neutrals. The Lulu Tank is one of those you’d be bummed to find in the dirty clothes pile because it would get so much wear alone or underneath a blazer.
In short, Nation makes a v-neck you can feel really, really good about. The brand’s vibrant website, instagram, etc. tell the story of a fun, fashionable company that has tons of good intuition and even better goodwill vives. Check them out for behind-the-scenes fashion shoots and to learn about the company’s use of eco-friendly fabric and blends.
Viva la v-neck!
Are You Still a Little Bit Wild?
A little leopard is always in style! Last season it was leopard ballet flats. The season before that it was LP fur swing coats. The leopard print-du-jour is this generous Tolani infinity scarf . Consider it the perfect vehicle for a sophisticated animal print. Like all Tolani scarves, it is crafted with quality fabrics and an eye for detail. And apparently, Jessica Alba and Vanessa Hudgens are already big fans...they wear it everywhere (paired with neutrals, natch)! The tan, brown and dark brown Tolani Leopard Print Infinity Scarf is handmade in India with a soft silk blend.
Giant infinity scarves are the best because 1) You know you won’t lose it should one end get caught somewhere (God forbid). 2) You don’t have to worry about which method of the gazillion methods you will use to tie your scarf (if you’re kind of lazy like I am). 3) Infinity scarves always looks perfect with a messy top knot (again easy) and 4) They can go loose if you’re feeling easy breezy or tight if you’re looking for a little warmth. Just wrap it up two times or three. Wrap your Tolani scarf four times if you’re a thrill-seeker who is always on safari for a good time.Read More
We’ve all considered:
How do I accessorize this amazing dress without feeling weighed down?
How am I going to secure tonight’s essentials (phone, wallet, keys, lip stain) without the spinal commitment? (After all, I did just lug around a giant tote all day long).
How can I compliment this playful blazer and heels combo I’ve got going on without looking over-done?
Answer: Sometimes a great clutch is the only reasonable solution.
Designers at LA-based JJ Winters have caught on with the versatility of this must-have accessory that was at one time super-formal. Now, thankfully, you can have a clutch that is not dripping with beadwork, lace or other dainties. You can in fact find clutches with a perfectly attractive (and optional) chain strap, chic design, and even surprisingly generous storage capacity (this is a shout-out to you, fold overs!!)
JJ Clutches stood out recently on the pages of People, InStyle, Lucky and Lash mags. The Chain Croco Miley Clutch was one of Rank & Style’s “Ten Best Winter Clutches” … winter candy, indeed. Heidi Klum dubbed her bag a “Red Carpet Essential” on her fashion/lifestyle site, and Kourtney Kardashian was snapped in her signature blazer-shorts combo cradling a large tan JJ Winters clutch. Love or hate the Kardashian ladies, Kourtney’s style is always spot on!
JJ Winters clutches are pretty much so good and so versatile you could eat them up. (But why would you do that? Seriously.) A large snakeskin clutch makes the perfect home for your tablet and smaller sundries while the simple Bree Chain Clutch (which also doubles as a cross body with a gold chain) does the job at 4.75 inches high and 11 inches wide with a magnetic snap closure and interior pocket/card slot. The Nikki Clutch is a cinch for special outings. With is streamlined details and unfussy shape you never have to despair about hauling a clunky handbag to a wedding or dinner again.
Some JJ Winters clutches feature an “optional handle” which is actually a super cute detail and pretty clever. Slide your hand into the handle to give the pits a break when you want to go sans shoulder strap. The Sherry Clutch (in Brite Blue Croco, Yellow Croco or Black Cobra) has the
handle, as well as a silk/satin lining. All JJ Winters bags are made in the U.S. with Italian imported leather.
It’s pretty obvious the clutch is having a major moment. Proves once again simplifying can be so satisfying.Read More
Here’s the Long and Short of it
It’s easy to dress in your best when the dress you’re in checks all the boxes. We suggest you don’t give up quite yet on the summer dress stock-up until you’ve had a good look at the new merch Blue Life Clothing has to offer. The California-girl brand has a talent for making the perfect piece to match up with a memorable occasion. They pull out the big guns in particular when it comes to stitching daytime dresses. You’ve got painfully cute minis and beautiful, free-flowing maxis. Sometimes they throw in a super high slit, and quite often you’ll find hand-created tie-dye designs. Caution: There is a lot to love here.
So really, all you have to do is make sure you have enough places to wear these delectable frocks! Are you headed to the jam fest down the street or a picnic beside the waves? The Blue Life Exile Dress is so fun with its different variations of colors and patterns. Take your pick. The short tie-dye number features a hi-low hem and V-neck in a lightweight fabric. It has a very beachy, easy-going feel and flavor. Pile on necklaces and wear with boots/booties or all manner of sandals. We love this dress in its stripe variation, too.
Maybe you’re headed to that rooftop bar with the great band and after-hours taco truck. The ¾ sleeve bb dress in “Margy” gray mixes a comfortable, form-fitting shape, deep V-neck and back cut out for that little something-something. It would be great on a date paired with heels and ideal for daytime brunch with a pair of canvass sneaks.
And then you have The High Tide Maxi dress. Just look at it—what more is there to say?? This would be g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s for a night out. It’s got that kind of Grecian elegance to it that’s begging to be paired with a rare gemstone necklace and silver cuffs. What you’ve got here is a very low-cut neckline and very high slit. You can choose from a light citrus color or blue tie-dye …. or a great black floral. For some reason this feels like something you would mambo in until the wee hours of the evening, no?
On the next dress hunt remember the checklist. Is it comfortable? Is it flattering? Is it versatile? But most of all…do you love it??! In our humble opinion life’s too short to settle for anything less than “check, check, check aaaaand check.”Read More
JJ Winters Handbags
We love our bags. A carefully chosen, well-loved satchel is definitely one of the easiest ways to transform the day’s look. Consider the power of contrast: Ripped jeans and a comfy neutral tee classed-up with a flawless, structured bag in a standout color. Or an all-white ensemble paired with a sleek, black envelope clutch. Congratulations—you’ve managed to take your look from incidental to editorial. What could be simpler? (Or more fun??)
Los Angeles brand JJ Winters understands the power of the perfect accessory to set the right tone from season to season. The LA-based brand offers a generous selection of lovely investment pieces that you are sure to covet. Designer Keila Carmer kicked off her luxury line of gorgeous JJ Winters handbags, purses and shoulder bags in spring of 2004. Each piece in the collection is constructed with fine Italian leather and manufactured in the U.S.
The first detail that caught our eye was a playful dose of fringe. The brand demonstrates over and over … and over again … that this boho trademark need not be relegated to festival grounds. Take a cue from JJ Winters bags like the beautifully blue Vanessa mini for a more refined fringe. The very lady-like Emma Messenger cross body with black fringe is in a class of its own with a little brushed gold detail. With its easy-wear and ideal size, this little gem would be a daily go-to for sure. And the Jane Messenger with its soft, elephant gray suede and braided handle is perfection.
JJ Winters Clutches are sure to get a lot of play, too. Alessandra Ambrosia recently paired a JJ Winters clutch with strappy sandals and a sweet off-white, satin dress. Brittany Snow did up her black clutch with a black top, red blazer, red and white patterned pants and black flats in a ready-to-wear ensemble.
Stars Blake Lively, Adriana Lima, Alexa Vega, Amanda Bynes, Zooey Deschanel are all devotees of JJ Winters.
Carmer doesn’t stop at hobos, clutches and cross bodies; she also offers chic leather backpacks for those days of trekking around town or stashing a night’s worth of essentials.
The most recent JJ Lookbook features even more unexpectedly clever totes, flavorful hobos and wearable clutches, one with a very ‘mod’ violet pop of color.
Now is the time to muse just how, exactly, to punctuate that new fall back-to-school/back-to-work/back-to-basics outfit. And with bags like these, we betcha can’t ogle just one.Read More