The Lazy Person's Guide to the Perfect Holiday Party Outfit

Monday, December 12, 2016

red turtleneck, holiday party outfit
photo: Kathryn Stabile

You like to party. You do. It's just that...well. It's dark out and the lack of sun is messing with your circadian rhythms. There's also the fact that when it's cold out, you like to hibernate in your warm home. bundled up in your coziest jammies and robe. with your dog. and look at your beautiful tree. with your dog. and your husband. and a blanket. and netflix. Sometimes an 8pm party sounds like it might as well just be in the middle of the night. But you gotta show your holiday cheer or at the very, very least, show up rubbing your eyes, for your friends and loved ones, because you well, love them.

Well, as a resident winter slacker, I feel you and I'm here for you. Today I'm showing you how to look like you're a Christmas party pro with minimal effort. I'll let you in on a secret. There's one wardrobe staple that really packs a punch. These people know what I'm talking about. 

photo: awkward family photos

 The red turtleneck. It's like a holiday party in a box. In fact, if you can get the rest of your clan in on in the fun, it's where serious Holiday memories are concreted. into history. 

kathryn stabile, meryl franzos, red turtleneck, christmas outfit
photo: Kathryn Stabile

A few weeks ago, I was invited to pre-shop a real treasure for Pittsburgh, a designer goods consigment pop-up shop called, Rue de Archives. Having access to gently used designer goods in Pittsburgh is kind of rare, usually one has to really dig for this kind of stuff (and beat out the other bargain hunters). FYI, everything at Rue des Archives is 25%-30% off their already discounted prices this week! I loved Rue des Archive's curated collection of Hermes, Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, etc, not even mentioning the tables piled full of cashmere sweaters...okay I'll mention it. It was there on the cashmere table that I found my quarry. Soft as the fur on a cat's belly, I knew that I'd found the most luxurious holiday party in a bag available. So yes, I scooped up my gently used White + Warren red cashmere turtleneck and went back home knowing I was set for the holiday season. Even though I purchased this sweater used, fashion is constantly recycling and renewing itself. Case in point? How on trend are these long sleeves this season? (They are).

red envelope clutch, ostrich leather, Kathryn Stabile, Meryl Franzos
photo: Kathryn Stabile

romy 100, Kathryn Stabile, Meryl Franzos, Jimmy Choo black heels
photo: Kathryn Stabile

red turtleneck, classy holiday outfit, Kathryn Stabile, Meryl Franzos
photo: Kathryn Stabile

So, you could wear a red turtleneck with high-waisted, wide-wale courduroys and a western belt. But I'd recommend you don't. Wear it with heels and a full black skirt and the top half of you will feel like you're still at home. by the tree. with your dog. watching netflix. The bottom half of you will look like you actually tried. And one last tip for the super Seasonally Affected, word to wise, it's a full skirt, so in all honesty, you might even be able to roll your pajama bottoms up and out of sight. I may or may not have done that.

red cashmere turtleneck, Kathryn Stabile, Meryl Franzos, Christmas outfit
photo: Meryl Franzos

Kathryn Stabile, Meryl Franzos, red turtleneck
photo: Kathryn Stabile

What I Wore
Sweater: White & Warren, purchased at Rue des Archives
Skirt: European Culture (Machine Washable!!!) purchased at Dina Ellen in Shadyside.
Clutch: vintage Furla, purchased at an estate sale for $1.
Heels: Romy 100 by Jimmy Choo.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays 
from Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 

What to Wear in the First Act

Thursday, December 1, 2016

photo: Kathryn Stabile

I used to buy old Rolling Stone magazines from the Fremont Public library in the 90's. They were ten cents each. I devoured them. Cover to cover. The fashion. The album critics. The musician interviews. I read, I studied, I absorbed. I tucked rock and roll tidbits away in my brain. Rolling Stone always had a thing for this lady Patti Smith and her seminal album Horses. Yes, Yes. I'll look into her, I kept telling myself. When I was done reading, then I literally dissected the magazine. I cut all instances of Eddie Vedder out with a scalpel and glued him on my biology notebook. With his Botticelli curls, furrowed brow and a handlebar jawline – he was the epitome of sensitive 90’s masculinity. A real cutie pie, my oh my.

Shhh...this article really isn't about Eddie Vedder at all.

This summer I was in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) when one of those Rolling Stone tidbits came unfurling out of my grey matter. I was walking through the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit, pretending to be cool, but there is a deeply ingrained squirmy patrician aspect to me. When confronted with large format pictures of engorged cocks and Robert Mapplethorpe stuffing a bull whip up his ass, believe me, I wanted to get an eyeful. But museums are a shared experience, where everyone is looking at the art and the people looking at the art. Voyeurism. It’s hard to pretend to be cool when you accidentally make eye contact with a stranger and have a full body blush going. They should hand out masks at LACMA. 

Photo: Robert Mapplethorpe

Anyway, before the pendulum of his sexuality swung the other way, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith were lovers and friends and he took many pictures of her. And there it was, next to a photo of an uncircumcised penis, Patti Smith’s album picture of Horses. I was more than happy to rest my eyes and socially anxious heart on safe, androgynous Patti. I picked up her book, Just Kids, in the gift shop and then Josh and our friends grabbed a (much needed for me) drink. For anyone who some how has an impression that I’m cool, I assure you that I’m not.Cool people don't care. I still care much too much.

photo: Kathryn Stabile
Have you ever felt like things were gaining momentum in your life and something awesome and sort of, fated was going to happen? In September, I started reading Just Kids while I trudged along on the elliptical. I liked Patti’s writing and the weight and feel of her words. Her recounting New York and her climb from abject poverty to rock and roll doyenne in the 70’s was especially interesting. I was twenty pages into it when the Carnegie Library reached out to me, and asked if I would like to attend a private meet and greet cocktail reception with Patti Smith before her reading and concert, part of the Pittsburgh Art and Lectures series on October 10. Of course I would. Jesus. I haven't thought of Patti Smith for at least fifteen years and all of the sudden I had a full house. I finished Just Kids. I listened to Horses. Hell yeah, why didn’t I check this out sooner? More Rolling Stone fashion tear sheets came floating out of my brain.

What I Wore to Meet Patti Smith

Leopard coat: Express, 50% off on sale HERE!
Pussy bow blouse, old, Victoria's Secret.
Leather Waistcoat, old, Mas Nada 
Moto pants, Prana Brenna Pant (so comfortable)  
Heels, Romy 100 by Jimmy Choo, HERE
Purse, old Marc by Marc Jacobs

I dressed like a rock and roll baroness, confident that life was railroading me to some defining and momentous conversation with Patti Smith. That evening, her handlers shepherded her out for a three minute development talk and then she was herded her off to the performance hall and that was it. It was a great performance, but I can’t deny the let down. I'd been so sure.

photo: Kathryn Stabile
photo: Kathryn Stabile

Same with the election. I was confident that America was thoroughly disgusted with a certain candidate and that we would have our first female president. I was so confident. All day November 8, I was floating on air, part of a secret pantsuit society and by 9pm I was sick to my stomach, knowing full well what the end was, but still unable to admit defeat to myself and to women everywhere.This isn't the America that I thought I knew. But what did I know? I was barely even an armchair politician until this election, but this election woke a sleeping giant within me, within a lot of us. Now, we are woke.

As a writer, I have a foot in both the real world and fictional worlds. To be honest, I long for the chaos of the real world to read like a good-triumphs-over-evil story arc. I think a lot of us do. So let's go with that. Many of us are reacting to the election like we just read the story's climax in the third act and we're doomed. But here's the thing, our story isn't finished, in fact, our tale is just getting started. Stories begin in the first act, with an inciting event-that's the thing that sets the story officially in motion. In our case, Trump winning the election is our inciting event. The thing that follows a story's inciting event is called the key event - where the characters (you and I) react. We mourn, we talk with our friends and loved ones, we try and make sense of it, and then we get to work. Donate. Volunteer. Speak up.Fact check. Support investigative journalism by reading it. Or better yet, subscribe to a newspaper. Pester your congresspersons. And don't ever accept hate as the new normal. 

I have hope that one day we will have a woman as a president and that one day I'll shake Patti Smith's hand.

"Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” 

- Andrew Carnegie


In other news. As you know I've been away from the blog. Thing have been busy and exciting! I finished the first draft of my novel. I've started a new story, a young adult fantasy (!) I created a personal writer website ( to help me down the path toward future publication, and Josh and I finally went on our official honeymoon in the Mediterranean! - I hoping to make a post on that.

I'd also like to introduce Kathryn Stabile as a new contributing photographer here on my blog. I've known her for quite awhile now, and I'm so excited to have finally worked with her! You can find her and her work on the internet at, on facebook, and on instagram @kathrynstabilephoto 

photo: Kathryn Stabile

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 

The Fall 2016 Edit

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's still technically summer. It will still technically be summer until September 21st. But...I have to admit that I've finally started thinking about fall fashion. I've been trying to steer clear of trends (unless they are utterly and inexorably me), anything dry clean only, and pretty much anything I don't want to wear all the time. These few habits have cut my purchasing down considerably. When we moved into our new home last summer, I got rid of a lot of things that I'd grown away from. This and that made my closet much easier to navigate. However, less clothes overall means more wear and tear (as a long-armed writer, especially on the elbows) on the clothes I do have. So every season, there's always a healthy mixture of needs and wants and budget...and timing. What to buy? Here's some of the trends and other stuff haunting and courting my attention for one reason or another this fall.

1. The Leopard Coat.

I saw a 3/4 length leopard print coat in Seventeen magazine in the 90's. They were doing a beatnik/ French New Wave inspired shoot that left quite the impression on me. I've been looking for a leopard print coat ever since. I keep trying on faux leopard coats and they've never been quite right, so I've never committed, but still, I keep trying. I just ordered the first coat, from Express. We'll see if it works out this time!

2. The Nike Air Presto Re-Issue

These. Are. My. Favorite. Running. Shoes. Ever. Nike first came out with the air presto in 2001. They were billed as a "t-shirt for the feet" because they were sold in t-shirt sizes. XS-S-M-L-XL. The design was great. They were feather light and oh so comfortable. Then, Nike stopped making them. My first pair served me well as an Anna Sui's intern. I pounded the Manhattan pavement in them. I also ran countless miles in them.  I wore them for seven years straight. The treads were so bald, I'd worn a hole through the shoe:( I tried other running shoes and they hurt. They were so heavy, my feet felt like they were attached to cement blocks. The air prestos are so light and shock absorbing, I could cry. It was around this time that I stopped exercising:( Then I discovered that Nike re-issues the air presto from time to time. I've been haunting shoe message boards for years. Every time Nike reissues, I stock up and buy two - three pairs. I found my cardio solemate. When I mate, I mate for life. Nike re-issued in August. Talk about timing...I was down to my last pair.

 3. The Black Trench

I'm a black trench kind of gal. I feel like me when I wear them. When I try on a classic tan trench, for some reason that I can't explain, I feel like Inspector Gadget. I like tan trenches on other people though. Sometimes my body just rejects things inexplicably. Ditto on bows. I adore them on others, but can't wear 'em myself. But clothing wear and tear. I'm needing to replace a black trench this year. I ordered the first trench above from Express.

4. The Edwardian Eyelet Blouse

 Eyelet for fall? Yes. It'll be a great transition piece. I have to thank Edwardian bad girl, Vanessa Ives of the Showtime tv show, Penny Dreadful for the inspiration. I'll wear it for date night with a tight bun, a black push-up bra, a pencil skirt and some black high heels. Which brings me to my next piece.

5. Classic Black Pumps

  These are timeless and worth investing in. I recommend leather over patent leather, or vegan leather (or suede-I never buy suede shoes anymore! they're impossible to maintain) because leather is more forgiving. Scuffs and scrapes are easier to repair and buff out with shoe polish. These heels, with proper care and routine trips to the cobbler to keep the heel tips and rubber soles tip top, could last you for decades. Ironically, I've never owned the most classic of classics. I hope to change that!

6. Velvet Heels, Velvet Smoking Jacket, Velvet,Underground

The Penny Dreadful tv show is casting some serious sartorial inspiration on me this fall. Gabriella Pescucci, I have my eye on your costume design work! The character Dorian Gray has a good look going. Velvet smoking jackets and tight pants. I dig it. I've also always dug velvet. So rock royalty. I hope to add a couple of velvet pieces to my wardrobe, but I think this classifies more as a want than a need. But't all the velvet pieces this fall so very lovely?

7. The Moto Jean

  I'm not above haunting men's shops in order to find the cool pants with the cool stuff at the knees. Fortunately, this look is finally starting to creep into women's wear. 

8.  Souped Up Chelsea Ankle Boot

  Can you say, FUN? I love all the fun options for ankle boots this fall. And with such great boot details, you'll want to make sure and show them off. Which brings me to...

9. The Oh-So-Impossible-To-Find-Beatles-Pant

I wish I could point you in the right direction and show you the pair of pants to get, but the truth is, I'm always on the look out for this pant. Hip hugging, stretchy, lean fit, slant pockets on the outer seam, slight, very very slight boot cut (just enough to fit over your ankle boots), and hits just below the ankle, so you can show your fancified boots off. If you can find a pair of black, lean pants that fits your waist, hips, thighs  and calves, you've won 3/4 the battle. You can get the length tailored to perfection. I prefer the above the ankle, capri length for flat boots and the slightly below the ankle length for boots with a stacked heel.

10.  The Fitted Waistcoat

The fitted vest is a great way to add interest to a tired dress or tie together a skirt and a button down shirt. I'm always on the look out for the perfect ivory cutaway vest, one that looks like it goes under a tuxedo jacket. It's a hunt that almost goes back to the leopard coat days, but not quite. I'll keep hunting online and in vintage stores.

What's caught your eye this fall? Tell me, what do you need? (and what do you want?) How do you balance the two?

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,

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