Rest Your Eyes on This – Ruby Red Pumps

In “Rest Your Eyes on This,” Commandress takes a mini-vacation to spotlight something that is lovely and delightful – regardless of its practicality or its price.

Wow – all it took was a three-day weekend to make it insanely hard to get up on time to bring Bonnie to school this morning. There’s no place like home – and there’s also no place like my bed.

Wizard of Ox - Ruby Slippers

A few of the happy thoughts that crossed my mind while abusing using my snooze alarm were: (1) Dorothy’s amazing ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz (which I saw a bit of yesterday); (2) how wonderful it would be to tap my heels together three times and stay in bed a little longer; and (3) these pretty French Sole Mondo Flats in Burgundy crackle leather – which would certainly be worth getting up for.

French Sole Mondo Flats - Burgundy Crackle Leather

So perfect for a modern Dorothy! The Mondo flats are available in Burgundy or Pewter from Nordstrom for $199.95. They’re also available from Simply Soles for $228 – but you can save 15% and get free shipping with promo code WELCOME.

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And if you’ve ever dreamed about finding ruby red shoes that you can wear to work, check out these polished and professional Kate Spade New York Abott Pumps in Ruby textured patent leather ($278 from Nordstrom; also available in Black).

kate spade new york abott pumps - ruby textured patent leather

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom and Simply Soles.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Roses & Ribbons Cardigan

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about. 

Here’s a feminine, floral sweater that you could easily work into an office wardrobe.

Roses & Ribbons Cardigan

The Roses & Ribbons Cardigan ($128 from Sundance; washable) would look pretty – but not too sweet – paired with sleek office basics like pants or a pencil skirt in navy, charcoal or black.

The cardigan also looks great with dark jeans for a business casual office - although I would pair it with a less casual top for work,  like this Eileen Fisher Ballet Neck Tee (Made in the USA & $98 from Nordstrom) or this Classiques Entier Drape Neck Silk Blend Jersey Top ($128 from Nordstrom).

Eileen Fisher Ballet Neck Tee - Made in the USA

Classiques Entier Draped Neck Silk Blend Top - lovely layering shirt for work - chic office style

Oh, and there’s another detail that looks fabulous in the picture above: the Love & Virtue Necklace ($188 from Sundance Catalogue) featuring grey pearls with red jade is a beautiful – and perfectly modern – pearl necklace.

Love & Virtue Necklace

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom and Sundance Catalogue.

Class It Up – How to Choose Handbags & Portfolios for Job Interviews

In the new Commandress feature Class It Up, contributor Amy (Bergsma) Schwarzenbach draws on her legal industry experience – including some of the mistakes she saw along the way – to share ideas for taking your work wardrobe to the next level. 

Most professional women are well-aware that a suit is the default interview outfit. But what does an interview candidate carry into their interview? After all, the employer expects candidates to bring copies of their resume and other application materials. And, of course, candidates have necessities like wallets, car keys, and cell phones to consider.

The reader is correct to answer a bag, of course! This sounds simple enough, but in practice it is not.

As the person who used to coordinate a law school’s on-campus interview program, I observed many women who chose the wrong bag for this famously conservative profession.

Whether it is a big, bright, and blingy oversized handbag or a frayed and overstuffed backpack, these accessories send the wrong message to potential employers. Job interviews are also not the time to show up carrying a $1,000 purse – that is, if one truly needs a job.

The message these choices convey is this: the candidate does not pay attention to details and does not display good judgment.

Tory Burch Tote - NavyProfessional women with job interviews in their future want to make a statement with their accessories – simply by communicating good taste, refinement, and restraint.

Shown here: You can’t go wrong with this classic navy tote from Tory Burch – also featured below.

By investing in accessories that are simple in appearance and conservative in color (navy, black, or dark brown), job candidates can successfully navigate this potential landmine.

For a job interview, professional women can choose either to carry a tote large enough to hold a folder or to carry a small handbag and a portfolio. Here are some of my favorite examples of each of these accessories.

Option 1 – A Tote Bag

As for totes, the key is to select a tote bag that is large enough to fit a manila folder, but not so large that it can be misconstrued as an overnight bag.

Tory Burch’s Small York Saffiano Leather Buckle Tote fits these criteria perfectly ($245 from Nordstrom). I recommend carrying Black, Navy or Dark Walnut for an interview.

Tory Burch Small York Saffiano Leather Buckle Tote - Navy

My second recommendation – but not necessarily my second choice – is Brahmin’s Medium Asher Tote in Pecan ($255.00 from Nordstrom).

Brahmin Medium Asher Tote - Pecan

Last, but certainly far from least, is Dooney & Bourke’s Lexington Pebble Grain Collection Water Resistant Pebbled Leather Shopper ($198 from Nordstrom). I love this bag’s conservative yet sporty look.

Dooney & Bourke Lexington Pebble Grain Collection Water Resistant Pebbled Leather Shopper Option 2 – A Portfolio & Small Handbag

With the Large Portfolio Crocodile Embossed Leather from Graphic Image in Black or Brown, you will be excited to go on job interviews – and you may even have a hard time saving your portfolio for those special occasions($164 from Graphic Image). Pair the portfolio with Brahmin’s Duxbury Mini Crossbody Bag in Black or Pecan for a sleek, coordinated look ($195 from Nordstrom or Dillard’s).

Graphic Image

Brahmin Duxbury Mini Crossbody Bag - Pecan

Alternatively, Kate Spade New York’s Cedar Street Mandy Saffiano Leather Shoulder Bag ($228.00 from Nordstrom) paired with Coach’s Crosby Leather Executive Portfolio ($298.00 from Coach) allow you to stash away your essentials so you can focus on the interview.

kate spade cedar street cross body bag

Coach Crosby Leather Portfolio

 

One final piece of advice: always, always, always turn your cell phone off before you walk into the interview.

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Coach, Dillard’s and Nordstrom.

Smart, Chic & Made in the USA – Under $100 – Alexis Bittar Lucite Crystal Rivet Hinge Bangle

“Smart, Chic & Made in the USA” spotlights American-made clothing for professional women & their families.

Bloomingdale’s has a particularly lovely selection of Alexis Bittar jewelry on line right now – including many items on sale.

My favorite? This Alexis Bittar Lucite Crystal Rivet Hinge Bangle in Prairie Crocus ($65 on sale; regularly $130). The color is a lovely variation of this year’s color of the year – Radiant Orchid.

Alexis Bittar Lucite Crystal Rivet Hinge Bangle - Prairie Crocus

The clean design and understated sparkle make this bangle perfect for wearing to work – and for stacking with other favorite bracelets when the mood strikes.

You can check out the bangle in some additional neutral colors (not on sale yet) here.

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Bloomingdale’s.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Etched Glass iPhone 5 Case

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about. 

Today is a Very Important Day – for me, at least. I finally found the iPhone 5 case of my dreams - and it only took a little under two years!

Etched Glass iPhone 5 Case

I would describe this Etched Glass iPhone 5 Case by Rifle Paper Co. ($38 from Anthropologie) as a work of “Enlightened Minimalism” – which seems particularly suiting for a tech gadget.

The clear case allows you to appreciate the iPhone’s design (as well as the color that you picked out so very carefully – in my case, gold) while enhancing the iPhone’s good looks with a decorative floral design. The case is sturdy, but not bulky.

Perfect!

And on the topic of Anthropologie, today is a great day to browse their sale selection - everything is an extra 20% off!

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Anthropologie. 

Professional, Smart & Chic – Under $100 – Vince Camuto Trumpet Skirt

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about. 

Here’s a flattering, versatile, affordable and washable skirt in a “new” silhouette to freshen up your work wardrobe.

Vince Camuto Trumpet Skirt

This Vince Camuto Trumpet Skirt ($89 in Regular and Petite sizes from Nordstrom) features a fitted waist with feminine flounces at the knee. The flounces add shape and interest below the hips, which creates a long and lean look rather than too much volume.

It’s an easy to wear style that flatters most figures and looks good with a lot of different tops – tucked or untucked.

Nordstrom also carries a similar (the same?) washable skirt in Navy – the Vince Camuto Sculpted Side Zip Skirt ($89).

Vince Camuto Sculpted Side Zip Skirt

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom. 

Rest Your Eyes on This – MZ Wallace Butterfly Tote Bag & Cosmetics Case

In “Rest Your Eyes on This,” Commandress takes a mini-vacation to spotlight something that is lovely and delightful – regardless of its practicality or its price.

This is the year that I may be driven absolutely mad by Valentino.

He’s designed the most gorgeous butterfly print – and he knows it’s amazing. It seems like every week he releases a stunning new gown, dress, coat, skirt, sweatshirt, handbag, pumps, etc. – and I’m star-struck by every single piece.

Valentino Pre-Fall 2014 - Butterfly Print Gown

(Image of Valentino Pre-Fall 2014 courtesy of Style.com)

Just look at how this Valentino Patchwork Butterfly Easy Tote Bag - which features darling leather butterfly cutouts layered on a butterfly patchwork canvas and a price that is effectively irrelevant – is being dangled like an irresistible toy just out of reach. 

Valentino Patchwork Butterfly Easy Tote

To paraphrase my daughter, I love it too much!!!

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But thankfully Nordstrom may have finally come to my rescue with an affordable alternative: this lovely MZ Wallace Chelsea Bedford Nylon Tote ($295; small zippered pouch included) and MZ Wallace Large Ines Bedford Nylon Cosmetics Case ($85).

MZ Wallace Chelsea Bedford Nylon Tote

 

MZ Wallace Large Ines Bedford Nylon Cosmetics Case

They are both quite beautiful – and so much more practical too!

Here’s a picture of the tote bag looking sharp with an otherwise understated outfit. I think it’s a winner!

MZ Wallace Chelsea Bedford Nylon Tote - Butterfly

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

Business Casual Makeover – Under $100 – Splendid Ashbury Blooms Pullover

How to add more color, interest & style to your business casual wardrobe.

Here’s a pretty floral print top to update your fall wardrobe for work and play.

Splendid Ashbury Blooms Pullover

The Splendid Ashbury Blooms Pullover ($98) is Made in the USA and available in Navy from Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Saks.

The top is lightweight rayon, so it would not have the bulk of a sweatshirt. It pairs well with jeans and would also look great with a fitted skirt or pants. Reviewers have noted that the top runs small.

Shopbop carries the Splendid Ashbury Blooms Pullover in Navy and White (shown below). The white is very pretty, but looks more casual than the navy. You could dress it up for work with a blazer or structured cardigan.

Splendid Ashbury Blooms Woven Top

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Shopbop and Saks. 

Professional, Smart & Chic – Milly Chain Link Cardigan

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about.

It’s not too often that office-friendly clothing triggers the reaction “Oh, that’s cool!” – but that was my first thought when admiring this Milly Chain Trim Cardigan.

Milly Chain Link Cardigan - Charcoal

I love this posh but modern update of a favorite jacket style from the Mad Men era. It’s a perfect piece for layering at work and after hours. The jacket’s blend of cotton (85%) and wool (15%) is nearly seasonless.

The Milly Chain Link Jacket ($325) is available in Charcoal from Saks and Bloomingdale’s and in Black from Nordstrom and Milly (where you can save 15% if you sign up for email).

Milly Chain Link Cardigan - Black Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Bloomingdale’s, Milly, Nordstrom and Saks.

Fresh Fashion Finds – Top Picks from Tory Burch’s Fall Collection

Tis the season for fall fashion debuts and Tory Burch has delivered another collection of ogle-worthy clothes and accessories. Tory Burch is a perennial favorite, but this season adds an extra element that speaks to me directly – subtle references to medieval art and design.

Best in Show

This year my favorite item is a practical one. If you have not invested in a Fitbit to track your steps, the collaboration between Tory Burch and Fitbit will motivate you to jump in. I just love Tory Burch’s Fitbit Fret Pendant Necklace ($175). It turns your tracker into a fashionable accessory. Made of solid brass, the pendant is suspended from a thin link chain.

Tory Burch Fitbit Fret Pendant Necklace

If you prefer to wear your Fitbit as a Bracelet, Tory Burch has also designed a Fitbit Metal Hinged Bracelet to hold the tracker ($195).

Tory Burch for Fitbit Metal Hinged Bracelet

Best Skirt

The Tory Burch Juliana Skirt has a terrific wrap-effect hemline, but the best aspect of this skirt is its rich pattern of dragons ($295).

Tory Burch Juliana Skirt

Best Coat

Tory Burch’s Bettina Coat fulfills my on-going desire for all things bouclé. Metallic yarns lend a hint of shine – making it hard to get the wintertime blues ($595).

Tory Burch Bettina Coat

Best Dress

I love everything about the Tory Burch Mavis Dress ($425).  Its print, shape, fabric, and neckline all come together in a distinctive, refined, and fresh look.

Tory Burch Mavis Dress

 

I can’t resist giving an honorable mention to the black and white Monique fit and flare cotton sweater dress ($375 from Tory Burch or Nordstrom).

Best Shoes

If you want your feet to make the statement, check out Tory Burch’s Regina Calf Hair Booties ($425). The leopard print is fantastic, but don’t miss the splendid hexagonal gold heels.

Tory Burch Regina Booties

Best Bag

There are several incredibly beautiful bags in this collection, but my favorite is the Embellished Bria Clutch ($395). Its combination of hand-embroidered floral appliqués and dimensional metallic thread details is très chic.

Tory Burch Embellished Bria Clutch

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links from Nordstrom and Tory Burch.