Monday, October 24, 2011

Head first back into the Milwaukee fashion scene...

Last Friday night offered me the perfect opportunity to jump head first back into the Milwaukee fashion scene. After a few months spent adjusting to a new job, the Run Up to the Runway event at the Milwaukee Art Museum overwhelmed my fashion senses. Me and 1000 potential shopping buddies packed into the Calatrava to view the Mount Mary College student design competition, runway shows from a handful of local designers, and Ra'Mon Lawrence's 2012 Spring/Summer collection. With the possible exception of the fainter two people to my left, the crowd was excited and appreciative of the designers and the event itself. I had to marvel at the local talent and creative energy in our community. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

This week we get to celebrate a holiday that is all about dressing up...Halloween. I'm taking the opportunity to pull together a vintage 1960's look inspired by my newest guilty pleasure show, Pan Am. Watch for pictures next week. Is your costume fashionable, flirty, fun? If you have a great idea - share in the comments so we can all look better!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For the Man in Your Life

Every many looks his best in a nice suit that has been tailored perfectly for his body. Women know this. Men are clueless. Mostly. Which is why many of us have had to drag boyfriends and husbands out shopping to ensure they have an appropriate wardrobe. With this specific situation in mind, I stopped by Harleys, The Store for Men, on Oakland Ave in Shorewood to chat with Jeff Brand. Jeff has been with Harleys for ten years and is the store buyer, ensuring they have the best merchandise in Milwaukee. Jeff also survived high school with me, so he already has street cred in my book.

Harleys is celebrating its 63rd anniversary this year (check out their accompanying sale this Saturday) selling fashionable and exclusive clothes for men. As I roamed around the store, in addition to the expected button-down shirts, silk ties, and pinstripe suits I found an impressive jeans collection and stylish outerwear.

While suits remain their staple at 60% of business, they do not appeal to the executive set only. Jeff believes the clientele is actually trending younger, especially since the store moved to this new modern location. As summer teases us, sales shift to include more sportswear. I spotted a lot of Hugo Boss, Cole Haan, Citizens of Humanity and Ike Behar. Harleys is also the exclusive Wisconsin retailer of Ermenegildo Zegna.

Formal wear is also a large piece of Harleys business. They provide suit and tux rentals for weddings, galas, and proms as an Elite dealer of Jim's Formal Wear. I was not surprised to learn they receive a fair amount of referrals from area event planners.

Harleys, unlike some competitors, survived the recession unharmed and the staff are seeing sales growth this year. Jeff attributes this resilience to keeping a fashionable and exclusive merchandise offering. I'm confident the excellent customer service has factored in too. While I was in the store, the customers were addressed by name and given the full attention of the staff. Pictures of well known and respected Milwaukee business men and loyal customers were hanging throughout the store.

Need another reason to stop by Harleys? Their in-house team will even tailor your (ladies) clothes. Ask for Jeff if you stop by and tell him I said hi!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How I Love the Sun

How do I love the sun? With sunscreen! Yesterday was the first really beautiful day of the summer and I spent over five hours of the afternoon outside golfing. It was glorious! And I don't have an inch of sunburn to regret thanks to copious amounts of my favorite products.

Every time I have washed my face in the last fifteen years I have lathered on Neutrogena lotion with SPF 15. I still get carded fairly regularly in my mid-thirties and I believe I owe that to this particular routine.

More importantly though, I hope it will keep me healthy. I already know two too many people who have been touched by skin cancer. I strongly encourage you to lather up in the morning as part of your routine and to keep a travel size in your purse in addition to extra protection for outdoor activities.

Enjoy the sun this summer (I will) safely with your favorite sun screen. Do you have a brand you use and love? Please share it in the comments.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cannes Not

My obsession with the fashion spectacular at the Cannes Film Festival continues this week. I've seen so many stunning gowns on equally lovely women. I've also seen some dresses to scoff at or even scorn and compiled them here for your enjoyment. The designers will remain anonymous for their own protection.

Jodi Foster: Worst accessory
I can admire loyalty as much as the next girl, but Jodi is dangling precariously on the limb furthest from the trunk...over a cliff...above rapids...leading to a waterfall.

Claudia Schiffer:
A dress can be too 'flattering'. With that cut, the lace, and transparent pieces, she has made the long journey from couture to Elvira.

Melanie Laurent
This dress looks like a nightgown Bernice wore when Grandpa was out of town. And it wasn't hemmed properly.

Dasha Zhukova
She did it better; the color is eye catching and she has a waist. Still it comes across dowdy. I want a little skin. A short skirt maybe, or make the top a halter?

Bryce Dallas Howard
Was she in France promoting a movie version of Little House on the Prairie? Nope, doesn't even work then. Lace again, too! It can be done right. Who will join me in a ritual burning of that skirt?

Brook Shields
How does this dress do so many bad things to her figure? Boxy torso, hippy, her boobs even look uneven. Why wasn't this tailored properly? It is too small and pulling through the front and the detail work is not hitting her natural waist.

I challenge you to find better examples of Cannes Not's. Post them in my comments or tweet them to me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cannes Star: Fan Bingbing

Happy Cannes Film Festival! It has already been a wondrous week of fashion. While I was browsing through red carpet highlights this afternoon I became more and more obsessed with Chinese mega-star, Fan Bingbing. In addition to her chiseled features and porcelain skin, she seemed to do no fashion wrong. Shockingly, I wasn't able to find a comprehensive article about her Cannes 2011 looks. I can't imagine how this is possible in our over-saturated fashion blog world, but I decided to fill the void my 30 second Google search couldn't. So here we go...

Atelier Versace organza gown at the Wu Xia premier. Sadly, it looks like the car ride added some wrinkles and possibly even a crease or two.

Elie Saab Couture 2011 at the 'My Way' photo call. Dramatic, but hiding her petite figure.

Another Elie Saab later that day at the movie premiere. She could be a different woman, right? Well, a different Movie Star. I don't think she could be confused with us regular X chromosome carriers.

Entering the festival opening ceremony like royalty in Chris Bu (Bo) Kewen. I can't even complain about the four inch bouffant hair because it balances out the heavy dress bottom perfectly.

Second Ateleir Versace to 'The Artist' premier.

Have I convinced you to worship the ground her gowns drag across? I want to see her glamour and drama once a week, not once a year. While I have been unable to pick a favorite, please share which look you like best...or hate the most.

Thanks for all your patience as I dealt with a few scheduling and technical (damn blogger) issues this week. I should be back to a normal schedule now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fashion Behind the Fashion: 2011 Met Gala

If you are anything like me, once you'd had your fill of Royal Wedding coverage you started pouring through pictures of the Met Gala fashion. This is the one night that fashion exists for its own sake and the goal is to be artistic and push the envelope...not cater to the minivan moms at home who buy People. Most media outlets have covered the looks from head to toe, literally. If you've missed the photo extravaganza, I would suggest and for comprehensive coverage.

While pouring through these pictures, do you notice the people behind the stars too? My girlfriend, Mandi, smartly suggested I do a post about the fashion behind the fashion. So, let's spend some time judging and criticizing the average Jane's who wrangled a ticket to fashion's biggest night for double price, begged their personal shopper to find a 2010 couture, and then Spanked their size 6 bodies into sample sizes for an entire evening.

Behind Kelli Hilson in white and yellow: I'm afraid that is Liv Tyler in Givenchy. Without working a pose, the odd angles in that skirt are not flattering. That dress looks so amazing in her actual pictures, but it needs to work in reality too.

Behind Madonna: this anonymous lady is on-trend with the feather wrap and neutral shade, but the whole look is ruined with the unflattering skirt length/hideous shoe combination. Even if you can't deal with stilettos for the evening, brown-sling backs should only be worn to the office on a lazy, rainy day. Not the Met Gala!

Glance past the egos in the foreground and check out the blond with the sheer skirt just behind Gweneth. I like this look. It is eye-catching and sexy without trying too hard.

We can do double duty with this photo of Ginnifer Goodwin, but lets ignore Giselle in red for the moment. On the right side of the background is a statuesque blond in a white Grecian-styled column dress. It could have been elegant (and a bit safe). Instead the viewer gets an eyeful of bicep wrapped in an unflattering pale, sparkly yellow. Is it a shrug? Is it connected to the dress? Is it a skin condition? Is her arm a mechanical appendage, recently retrofit for superhero duties? I can only hope.

Behind Frida Pinto: elegant and elaborate fan purse. Best accessory of the night.

Designer muse Blake Lively easily overshadowing a mustard yellow belted dress. I'm going to go out on a limb here and call that one as the same Alexander McQween dress Pippa Middleton wore just last week to her sister's wedding. Compare here. Different color, add a belt, am I right? They were honoring McQueen at the Gala.

I had to include this picture because it reveals the impracticality of some high fashion. Here Beyonce needs help from two people to ascend the stairs into the event. What is that assistant wearing (not JayZ in the white tux)? I don't care if you are only there to sweep the street between limos, at least wear all black to fade into the background. I'm embarrassed for him. Or her.

Cristina Ricci brought all her steeze to the Gala. Lady in boring white column dress has missed a golden opportunity to really stand out and make use of that stunning figure. What a waste.

I hope you enjoyed critiquing the fashion behind the fashion from the 2011 Met Gala. It was a lot of fun for me. Thanks Mandi! This might become a regular ritual here at Bernice.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pictures and thoughts from Prague

I found the fashions in Prague to be less edgy than in Berlin, bordering on summer-y (it was almost 80 degrees). It wasn't hard to pick out locals among the swarms of tourists. Below are some of my favorites. The first picture makes the list because it is so easy to see the story behind the photo. Plus, I love a man in a suit.

I dragged my sister through back streets below the castle in search of this particular designer's store. Closed because of the Easter holiday. Sigh.

Street style in the Jewish Quarter? Actually, I think this was a real shoot.

Again with the leggings under jean skirts or shorts. I only saw it work on the girls who needed to shorten their legs and add some heft to their figure.

Cute tunic on the Charles Bridge.

Very typical Czech gal. Cute, no?

I'm finally back home and recovered from my trip. I learned several lessons while traveling. First, BlogPress is the bomb. So easy to use. Second, free wifi isn't a concept that has taken root everywhere. Third, general style trends seemed to uniquely reflect the personality of the city. I'm going to think about how to define the group style of Milwaukee this week while getting my fill of fashion porn from the Met Gala and the Royal Wedding. Thanks for your patience while I escaped.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stylish Damen

Two typical stylish damen at hauptbahnhof train station.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wedding dress in Prague

Romantic wedding dress seen in Prague on Friday.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Style Scene in Berlin

Flashback to flashdance.

No. Just no.

Too cool!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Pack for a Long Trip

I began packing tonight for a ten day trip to Europe (lucky me!). Packing for this trip is particularly challenging due to the schizophrenic spring weather. My fingers are crossed that Germany, Czech Republic, and Slovakia are all slightly warmer and dryer than Milwaukee, but I still have to plan for a damp 35 degrees as well as a humid 75 degrees.

I have a theory on how to pack for long trips (longer than seven days). First, I literally pull out every item I might want to bring with me. Shoes, pants, shirts, sweaters, work-out gear, belts, everything.

Above you will see all the shoes and clothes I pulled out. I then sorted into piles; must take, want to take, and can live without. Once sorted, I start filling my suitcase with the must take pile. Then I evaluate. Is there room left?

Sadly, no. My full suitcase, above, did not include anything from my want to take pile. I realized I will probably need to leave my gray blazer (a recommendation from the sister), tiny jean shorts, and white capri jeans at home. At this point, I also realized I didn't pack any underwear. Since the chance of anyone commenting on my wrinkled panties is low, I just stuffed them in the corners.

I usually try to set aside my travel outfit separately from the suitcase pile. Now I know my favorite striped cardi will be with me on the plane. I just must remember to grab my scarf on the way out the door so I won't be mistaken for an American tourist.

Above are the clothes that didn't make it into the suitcase. Since they will miss out on all the fun in Europe, I'm letting them enjoy the company of my comforter for the evening. I have to admit, I'm not satisfied that I have everything I will want while traveling. I will, however, have access to my sister's closet in case of a fashion emergency.

I plan to post street style photos from my travels while away - so check back over the next two weeks for fashionable looks from Eastern Europe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bernice in Berlin with a Scarf

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Berlin, my obliging sister agreed to contribute to the blog and simultaneously help me pack. She used her keen observational skills to pick out hot street styles in her town. Naturally, it is important I be as equally stylish in Berlin as I am here in Milwaukee. God forbid someone could identify me as a tourist. (Tracy, remember when the sunglasses salesperson thought we were local New Yorkers? We were so proud!)

The sister says scarves. Everywhere in Berlin. Patterned and light purple. I have plenty to choose from - but which to pick. It would probably be best if I brought options, right?
The sister also says that I should be prepared for fashionable women to wear black tights under tiny jean shorts...and a scarf. Sadly, the week I have left before I head to Berlin is not enough time to mentally psyche myself up for this look, clearly borrowed from the Man Repeller. While I can not promise to bring this Euro-trend home with me, I promise to find an original and post it as evidence. (I will actually be attempting to post European edition street style while on vacation.)

The sister says that the chicest Germans are layering like they are running out of closet space. Always including a scarf. But also including button down shirts in small patterns and cardigans or blazers with three-quarter length sleeves. Jeans are of the skinny or boyfriend variety. Shoes are ballet flats and open-toed booties. Here is a great example of this look from 'Rough around the Edges' on Fashion Blanket:

I'm comfortable with these guidelines. I have a great gray blazer I can throw in my suitcase, black ballet flats which will be comfortable while I try not to look like a tourist, and a closet full of scarves. I might even try to wrestle my cleavage into a button down shirt. A special thanks to my sister for providing me with Bernice-worthy Berlin style suggestions. I promise to diligently plan my wardrobe so that I look like I, "just threw this outfit together but still look incredibly stylish...with a scarf." Later this week I will be posting my large trip packing theory, so stay tuned to see what makes it on the plane with me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Style Icons - V1, Spring 2011

I am currently lusting over these celebrity style icons. These are the women for whom I will click through the link to find out what they are wearing. I will buy a fashion magazine just because she graces the cover. Each consistently looks amazing and cultivates a particular style that I admire.

Carey Mulligan
Carey has a lovely, demure aesthetic to which she always remains true. Even her fashion blunders are feminine. Below are several of my favorite Carey looks.

Emma Watson

Emma is now a sought-after fashionista, making waves just by signing on to represent Burberry and Lancome. Unlike many of her peers, she has never been caught in trashy, slutty, or underwear-bearing threads. While staying true to her youth, she is always sophisticated and a half step before the trend. I want this dress...and the bone structure to pull off that pixie cut.

Anne Hathaway
Anne could make this list based on her 2011 Oscar fashion alone, but there are ten years worth of great looks to choose from. We must credit her trusted stylist, Rachel Zoe, with much of her success - but Anne knew enough to seek great advice. I believe her secret to success is always dressing to best accentuate her body size and shape.

Diane Kruger

If I had to pick just one style icon, it would be Diane. She always looks comfortable and confident, edgy and fun, while still appropriate for a women in her mid-thirties. She also has access to one of the world's best accessories, Joshua Jackson. Diane does her own styling and perfectly attires her adorable boyfriend as well.

Who are your style icons?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Found: Vintage Bolts

I made a stop Saturday afternoon at the Buy Local Bazaar specifically to check out an adorably unique area gem, Bolted Milwaukee. Michelle Eigenberger is the creative entrepreneur behind the company. She has a passion for vintage clothing and materials, nurtured by childhood shopping trips (vouched by mom who was there to help). She clearly is unable to resist a great find and has developed an extensive and varied collection of vintage fabrics initially intended for her own use.

Before she drowned in her fabric shopping passion, Michelle channeled that creative energy into a vintage fabric and sewing supplies business. Her wares are available at stores around town, local bazaars like this one hosted by WMSE, and on Etsy. They are perfect for the designer, like Michelle, who cares about reusing quality materials without sacrificing style or beauty. While she seemed slightly disappointed that Bolted success leaves less time for her own designs, she loves that she is starting to see her fabric on clothing worn around town.

If you are looking for fun, vintage fabric or clothing I encourage you to check out Bolted Milwaukee. I have no sewing skills myself, so all that fabulous fabric would be wasted with me - but buy up so I can strike a deal with Michelle to take home one of her awesome antique suitcases which are clearly perfect for storage while looking sophisticated and whimsical.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Now that it is April, what to wear?

Winter in Milwaukee is long and cold and snowy. This week April begins and we have officially been enjoying spring for ten days. Hard to tell, isn't it? While we are ALL tired of the weather, I suspect many of you share my winter clothes exhaustion as well. For instance, yesterday my winter white work coat was banished to the back of the closet. I can't look at it any more. I'll put four layers of fleece under Babs (my trench) if I have too, but I'm not wearing it again until November at the earliest.

How does one balance a rainy 42 degree day with your desire to wear spring fashion? Here are my suggestions:

Fingerless mittens. You know you still need something on your hands in the morning to scrape the ice off your car. Plus, so easy to text! I've seen these everywhere from to Urban Outfitters, but found two great options; long gray mittens from Michel Kors and hand-made mittens by StellasKnits on Etsy:

Layer a sweater or jacket over a summer dress with tights. Here's a great look from Anthropology.

Pull out your leather jacket. Its not just for fall. How great is this Steve Madden Faux jacket?

Wear scarves in bright pastel colors in lighter fabrics. It will still keep you warm. Try ShopStyle for options. Add a hat (of course, I suggest a fedora). Look how Anne Hathaway pulls off both. Please credit appropriate pap for photo.

Or, lounge on a beach in the sun because sometimes you just have to get away. Hopefully these suggestions will help you make it until July, when the temps move from the 50's to the 80's.