Top 10 Chic Pieces To Wear Right Now

This may be Fashion Week in New York City, but that means Fall 2013 Collections are on the runways.  And local boutique retailers have recently returned from market but many with their spring and summer fashion finds.  Since it’s still mid-winter, let’s talk about what you’re wearing right Now!  Items you might have splurged on in 2012 have likely become favorites in your style rotation all fall and winter season.  Let’s review 10 chic pieces that are possibly in your current fashion line-up.  

1. The Maxi Shirtdress – Tap into two hot trends, the maxi and the shirtdress.

2. The Animal Print Top – Embark on a style safari with a theme that thankfully continues to repeat itself.


3. The Sequin Top – This season both day time and late-night style calls for major sparkle.

4. The Open-Stitch Sweater – A pretty peek-a-boo knit for chilly days or nights.

5. The Crochet Dress – An airy knit for effortless allure.


6. The Fringe Shoe – Fashion-savvy fringe adds urban cool in a retro way, especially in boots this.


7. The Long & Lean Cardi – Sleek and perfect for layering, this figure-skimming essential slips effortlessly over any look from denim to dresses.


8. The Peasant Blouse – Bold prints and a flirty, flowy shape make this top hippie chic.

9. The Paisley Dress – Jewel-tone paisley is the new power print.

10. The Military Jacket – Toughen up with a bit of a rebellious streak.


And if you hurry, you might find some of these chic pieces on sale racks now!  Share what favorite finds you currently continue to wear this winter.

Leave 'Em Laughing, Lewis

He shuffles down Franklin Street toward lunch with a friend, unnoticed by passers-by because he is not pontificating, gesticulating or shaking his head in the funny fashion that defines Lewis Black.

One of America’s best known stand-up comedians lives in Chapel Hill, but spends barely half the year here because of his live tour and accompanying media calls, hosting gigs, voice over work for animated film and his forthcoming cable TV show.

He is in town this weekend for the annual Carolina Comedy Festival, to which he donates his time and wisdom helping burgeoning UNC student comics launch careers that, hopefully, take off faster than Black’s.

His resume is long, but it really doesn’t get cooking until 2000, the year he was arrested for co-hosting a sort of pornographic bus tour in New York City on the same day President Clinton’s motorcade was taking a similar route.

Stints on the Daily Show and Comedy Central blasted Black’s career into true stardom when he was already past 50. The 1969 UNC graduate still looks younger than his 63 years. Obviously, he gets a kick out of making people laugh.

“I’m very busy and I love everything I do,” Black said, “but I wish it all happened when I had more energy.”

Anyone who has seen Black on stage, either in person or on an HBO special, will dispute that he lacks energy. His raving rants about the “absurdities of life” are brilliant, blue and far from boring. He makes fun of people and things, which are hilarious unless you are a completely humorless way-right winger.

Black is also a rabid Carolina fan and well-aware of the Tar Heels’ place in the Sweet Sixteen. But it would not have been that way if he wasn’t rejected by several Ivy League drama schools and then visited Chapel Hill because his girlfriend’s mother went here.

“One walk on campus and that was it,” said Black, a suburban Maryland native. “I went straight to the admissions office and asked what I had to do. I didn’t even know, or care, whether they had a drama department.”

He had friends at Duke and visited there quite often, and now like most Tar Heel fans he despises the Blue Devils basketball team. “The Duke-Lehigh game was like arriving at the gates of heaven,” he said. “I get as much pleasure from them losing as I do from Carolina winning.”

Black has written three books since 2005, all while nested away in his condo on Franklin Street. This is where he comes for refuge and to help teach kids a few things he learned the hard way. He started out as a playwright, had bit parts in movies and TV shows and finally found his niche standing on stage by himself seeing people bust a gut over his manic, machine-gun delivery.

He’s already played the Durham Performing Arts Center and is scheduled there again in mid-April. Meanwhile, whatever writing he’s here to do has been sidetracked by college basketball.

“I’ve watched more this year than ever,” said Black, relating that he caught the first Carolina-Duke game on satellite TV from his tour bus. He missed the second because he had a show that night in Sarasota, Florida.

Marquette is his second favorite team, stemming ironically from the Warriors’ 1977 win over Carolina in the NCAA Championship game and some fond memories of times spent in Milwaukee ever since. He said he knew the Tar Heels would lose that game when they went to Four Corners midway through the second half.

“Why do coaches do that? They still do it. Syracuse almost lost the other night because they started to hold the ball,” he said. “I don’t understand it, never will understand it. But I still watch as much as I can.”

And rants at the TV, for sure.

Prime Minister Bowles?

We are following in the footsteps of Greece and Italy. Just like them, we have lost control of our nation’s budget, and along with them, our economy is tanking.

Just like them, we have a bunch of people who are hooked on government subsidies and unwilling to give up any part of them. We also have a bunch of people who have the resources to contribute much more, but who are, like the Greeks who are wealthy, unwilling to give up anything.

Our country, like theirs, is headed for a train wreck.

You hear this kind of talk, don’t you? Like Thelma and Louise, we seem to be headed for a cliff, more ready to ride out–and crash–than we are to grab the steering wheel or push our foot down on the brakes.

Our two political parties have strong partisan and tactical commitments that preclude a cooperative and pragmatic approach to the budget emergency and the shattered economy.

Both political parties have only enough power to keep the other one from taking charge. Thus, neither political group has enough power to govern.

Meanwhile in Greece, where the budget emergency is greater than in our country, the warring politicians have organized a coalition government and picked a “technocrat,” one respected by everyone, to lead the government as prime minister.

A similar approach in Italy resulted in the recruitment of a respected economic specialist to lead the government.

The American political system is not designed to accommodate this sort of change in government leadership between elections. Our people elect the President, and there is no simple way for Congress to undo that decision.

But, what if our system were more like the European parliamentary governments? What if our Congress could put in force a coalition government of “national unity” to meet the budget and economic emergencies?

Who could they recruit to lead? Who has the expertise to develop a plan? And who has the skills to bring the different groups to the table and give up ground, at least temporarily, for their highest priorities, and, finally, someone who agrees that the budget and economic crisis require compromise and unity?

Such skilled, non-partisan leaders are in short supply in Europe, and maybe even more so in the United States.

Nevertheless, let us try to come up with some ideas and some names. First, we have to concede that the candidates ought to have some expertise in government, and even have some experience in partisan politics, but one in which he or she still has the respect of the opposition political party.

So who are some candidates?

First consider Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Although he is a Republican, he has shown an ability to bring people of different political persuasions to work on commons tasks in New York City.

Or consider Warren Buffett. Maybe he is too old to take on such an assignment. But he has proven time and time again an ability to understand the importance of good financial planning and discipline for the success of businesses. He has been active in the debate of several important political questions Even though he is very wealthy, he has shown a willingness to promote some tax increases on the rich.

But my candidate for “prime minister” of the United States is Erskine Bowles.

Bowles has demonstrated an understanding of the importance of finding a painful solution to the budget situation in the United States. As representative of President Clinton in the discussions with Congress, he has already proved an amazing ability to bring about workable solutions to budget making challenges. His pragmatic approach to the challenges of administration and leadership of the UNC system is just one more indication that he is a someone you ask to take on the toughest assignments.

You might disagree for one reason or another, but I think Prime Minister Bowles sounds pretty good.

One Girl's Fashion Dream

Meet rising fashion designer Leigh LaVange. I’ve wanted to introduce Chapelboro readers to Leigh and showcase her designs ever since I started writing this column.  I have this talent scout intuition that tells me big things are in Leigh’s future. So here’s the story of how she got started.

Leigh is one of our own…born and raised in Chapel Hill and as a huge Tar Heel fan.  She attended Frank Porter Graham Elementary School and Culbreth Middle School before attending Durham Academy for high school.  Freshman year of college she followed in the footsteps of her parents and attended UNC-CH, but then decided to transfer to NC State’s College of Textiles (COT) program at the beginning of her sophomore year. She graduated from NCSU in December 2009 and moved to New York City in February 2010. Local girl follows the stars to the big city.

Life-long focus and determination can take you places. Just ask Leigh’s Dad Ben. “Leigh was very focused as a child and remains so as an adult.  When she decided on something, she went for it. No retreat, no surrender.  She usually gets what she wants, due in no small part to her own hard work.”

Mom Lisa describes Leigh as the LaVange family member who could assemble whatever arrived in a box without ever looking at the instructions. “She has a very intuitive feel for how things are made and work. Whether computers, telephone answering machines (back when we used them!), DVD players, etc., she was our go to person for anything electronic or mechanical.  I bought her a Swedish-made sewing machine at the Cotton Boll at around age 10 or 11 (she still uses it–great machine), because of her affinity for making things, and right away she starting sewing, often without a pattern. “
I asked Leigh’s parents Lisa and Ben LaVange to share any childhood or teenage stories of Leigh’s creative outlets. Dad Ben had this one to share. “One of my favorite stories from high school is Leigh staying up with me to watch the Boston Red Sox (my team) win the 2004 World Series.  Afterward, she had me drive her to Walmart to get supplies to make a championship t-shirt, which she wore to school the next day.  We were both tired, but happy!”
Leigh sites her family as one of her biggest influences. I asked Leigh’s folks which parent claims passing on the creative gene. Mom Lisa says, “Ben and I are both musical, with his drumming and my piano playing, and both girls studied piano and sang in the church choir. Perhaps some musical creativity morphed into design creativity for Leigh.”
As UNC grads and Tar Heel fans, was it painful for you to watch Leigh transfer from Carolina blue to State red? Lisa admits, “We did have a hard time accepting her transfer to NC State. I told her at the time, jokingly, that I was a Carolina alum and faculty member, but my proudest moment was being a Carolina parent, when she was a freshman! I had already planned to participate in graduation as a faculty member four years later when she graduated. But, we knew she was anxious to get started with her career training and did not want to wait until graduate school to study textiles. The NCSU program is top notch. Once we saw the curriculum and met the Dean (who is a statistician like Lisa) and faculty, we were very excited about her studying there.” Ben adds, “As for switching from blue to red, she never did.  We were extremely proud when she was accepted at and chose to attend UNC, but I encouraged her to apply to State when she was a high school senior. She wouldn’t hear of it then, because she was true blue, and she continued to attend Carolina sporting events whenever possible during her years at State.”
That’s dedication to two schools for sure!
Leigh took a break from the bright lights and big city to answer some questions about when she got stung by the fashion bug and how she has pursued and followed the designer’s dream.

When did you realize the fashion world was calling you? I grew up sewing and taking classes, and as most girls I dreamed of becoming a designer, but as I got older and started applying to colleges I didn’t think it was a career option. As much as I loved sewing I wasn’t an artist and did not think an art school was the right choice for me.  About half-way through my freshman year I started feeling like I was missing out on something.  A great friend of my family told me about the College of Textiles at NC State and sent me to the annual Art to Wear show. That is when I realized there was more to fashion than sketching, and I decided that night that I wanted to apply to the COT (College of Textiles) and be in that show by the time I graduated.

What are your most creative childhood memories beyond paper dolls?

When I was about eight years old, my mom signed up my sister and I for sewing classes at the Cotton Boll in Chapel Hill.  My sister didn’t care for sewing, but I couldn’t wait to go back.  I think at my first class I learned to make boxer shorts.  Every summer after that I took more and more classes and made pajama pants, quilts, stuffed animals, dresses, purses and more!  Once I would take a class, then I would take what I learned home and make presents for my friends for birthdays and holidays.  Finally I built my way up to making my own prom dress!
Dad Ben calls Leigh’s prom dress “a labor of love and a thing of beauty to behold!” Mom Lisa adds, “It was gorgeous, made from pale yellow silk georgette. She spent hours creating rolled hems with that delicate fabric. The night before the event, she was doing some trim work, and the zipper broke. I was away on business, so Ben drove all over the Triangle trying to find a store open that sold the right kind of zipper! The dress turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and the Cotton Boll proprietor urged her to enter the dress into her fashion show that year, but Leigh did not want to compete with her creations. She was crowned Queen of the Prom, which was a nice reward for all the hard work! (see photo above)

Who has inspired you most along the way?

My family of course has always been so supportive of me, and if it weren’t for my mom I may have never learned that I loved sewing and fashion.  A great friend of my mom Kaola Phoenix (local artist in Chapel Hill) was the one who introduced me to COT and encouraged me to pursue fashion. Lastly, while in College I worked at SoHo clothing in Cameron Village and owner Martha Parks and manager Ellen Edwards were a constant inspiration and encouragement for me.  SoHo carries the most amazing and unique designers and being around clothes like that every day was so inspirational.

What was the experience like at NCSU’s COT and how did it prepare you for life in the fashion industry?  And don’t be shy…tell us about your accolades!

I had such a wonderful time at NCSU’s COT.  It was exactly what I was looking for. The classes I took really prepared me for the fashion industry.  It’s not like your typical art/fashion programs.  Each class when we would have the opportunity to design something for a project we had to take it through all of the steps: Designing, Costing, Pattern-making, Grading, Cutting, and Sewing. They taught us that in the industry it is so important to know every step of the process.  I had the opportunity to participate in many different fashion shows, designing and modeling for friends!  My first show at COT was the Cotton Couture show where I designed a convertible dress and showed 4 (of many) different ways you could wear it! (see photo below with Leigh runway center)  My senior year I made it into the Art to Wear show like I had wanted to since before I started at COT.  This was the most fun because I got to be as creative as I wanted. My line was based on the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia.  Finally I participated in the Threads Senior show at the COT in December 2009 and designed a line inspired by the French revolution. (see photo below with Leigh in center holding a bouquet of roses and older sister Kate to her left modeling a Leigh LaVange design)

Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

Everywhere! I like to design things you don’t see every day, so I typically stay away from fashion magazines.  My favorite place to draw inspiration is on the streets on New York.  I love seeing what people are wearing.  I will sometimes even take just the simplest of details in someone’s outfit and expand from there to create something of my own.  I also get inspiration from shopping.  My favorite place of course is SoHo Clothing in Raleigh, NC where I used to work.  Vintage shops are always fun too! My most recent inspirational tool is the coffee table book from the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  If I ever feel stuck I like flipping through that and others.

Tell readers what brought you to the Big Apple and about your current gig.

After graduation I decided my best chance of really getting into the fashion industry would be to move to New York.  I lined up a few interviews for internships with smaller local design firms and after receiving an offer I moved up two weeks later!  It was a very quick and big decision, but I’m so happy I did it.  I worked as an intern for about four months while working part-time at different retail stores in the city.  I was then hired full time as a production assistant (with fashion label Hunter Dixon).  It was great fun and such a learning experience being in the factories everyday and shopping at the local fabric and trim stores.  May of this year I took a job as an assistant technical designer for a bigger company (The Moret Group).  I’m very happy with the move into tech design. My training from COT prepared me well for this job.  It’s been interesting being able to learn about overseas production as well.

What’s your professional dream?

It changes about everyday!  I love doing technical design, but one day I would like to use that skill plus my education in pattern-making (from COT and now FIT – pattern-making certificate program) to branch out in pattern-making as well.  I love making my own patterns for my designs and would like to do that professionally as well. I sell my designs occasionally, so of course I would one day love to make a living out of that!

Where (and when) can fashionistas find your designs?

Usually once to twice a year SoHo clothing hosts a local designers’ event in Cameron Village, and I sell my designs there.  Check the SoHo clothing website  or the Cameron Village website for the next event.  You can find my designs at SoHo anytime though.  Hopefully soon I will have a website up and running!!
Leigh is living proof that one girl’s dream can become a reality with the right training, tenacity and drive! I predict she takes the fashion world by storm. And along the way I plan to wear her threads and write about her future successes! 

Thank you to proud parents Lisa and Ben LaVange for sharing their stories and memories of Leigh’s fashion pursuits. Lisa was most recently a professor in the Department of Biostatistics in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC (2005 – 2011). This past September she joined the FDA as Director of Biostatistics in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in DC. Ben works in Human Resources at UNC Health Care. They reside on South Columbia Street (the Bagby house) and throw a great tailgate party!

This is the second story in a series on fashion designers with a Chapel Hill or Triangle connection. (See The Fashion Plate’s 9/20 interview with Chapel Hill native Donna McMillan of Uncommon Threads.)

That’s my feature on a local fashionista! Share your comments and praise about Leigh and other local designers below.

Autumn reading suggestions from North Carolina Bookwatch

It is reading time again.
So, courtesy of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch, I have some autumn reading (and early Christmas gift) suggestions for your consideration.
Charles Frazier’s new book “Nightwoods” will be on this Sunday’s New York Times best seller list for the second week in a row. “Nightwoods” may not be the same kind of blockbuster that his “Cold Mountain” became, but it is off to a solid start sales wise. “Nightwoods” is set in Frazier’s beloved North Carolina mountains. With engaging characters and a story line of suspense and surprise, this short book could become a favorite. Because it is compact it opens the doors for a wider audience to become acquainted with Frazier’s magnificent gifts. I am betting that many people who did not finish “Cold Mountain” or “Thirteen Moons” will, through “Nightwoods,” become new members of Frazier’s fan club. You can visit with Frazier on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch this weekend: Friday, October 21, at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 23, at 5 p.m.
A new book by a New Bern resident will almost certainly be at or near the top of The New York Times list by the end of October. Nicholas Sparks’s “The Best of Me” is the kind of love story Sparks knows how to tell so well. Set in Oriental, a small town and sailing center on the Pamlico Sound, two high school lovers come back to their hometown twenty years after their last parting. As usual, Sparks makes the romantic sparks fly.  (Oct. 28 and 30)
Andrea Reusing recently won a James Beard award for her complex cooking skills. She owns the acclaimed Chapel Hill restaurant, Lantern, where her amazing Asian-inspired dishes require expert preparation. Nevertheless, her book “Cooking In The Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes” is designed for us normal people who want to cook simple seasonal foods for our families. Using clear language she tells her readers how and when to shop for foods in season. Using the same direct instructions she guides them in the simple steps of preparing those foods. (Nov. 4 and 6)
Jane Borden’s “I Totally Meant to Do That” is a humorous memoir of a young college graduate from Greensboro making her way in a less than friendly but highly addictive New York City. This book should be required reading for every young North Carolinian considering a move to the Big Apple and for the North Carolina parents of any child now living there. (Nov. 11 and 13)
UNC-Wilmington’s Clyde Edgerton’s latest book, “Night Train,” takes us back to a segregated North Carolina town of the mid-sixties. Two teen-aged boys, one white and one black, share a passion for music. The white boy wants to be another James Brown, but the laws and customs of his society make it very hard for his relationship with his black friend to continue. Edgerton explores some of the same themes that the novel and recent movie “The Help” brought to a wider audience. (Nov. 18 and 20)
Thanks to an author who lives in Chapel Hill we can read an up-to-date 007 mystery featuring a James Bond revised for modern times. The author is Jeffrey Deaver, already a very popular and best selling author of a host of thriller novels. The estate of Ian Fleming, the original author of the James Bond series, commissioned Deaver to write the new book, “Carte Blanche.” It is set in current times. Do not worry about James Bond’s age. Today, the original Bond would be about 90 years old, but Deaver’s Bond was born in 1979 and served in Afghanistan. He reminds us of the original Bond, but he is a brand new model. (Nov. 25 and 27)
Enjoy the books and tune in Bookwatch this fall.

Shaken and Stirred…

This wacky weather week has my wheels spinning with potential themed party ideas. 
And apparently I’m not alone. Minutes after this week’s eastern earthquake, big city bars and restaurants started offering earthquake drink specials to shake you all night long. Twitter lit up with specials being tweeted from New York City to DC to Atlanta. Early passengers on the disaster drinking bandwagon were invited to “shaky happy hour” or to “calm your jitters with a quake-a-tini.” I can hear the bartender now, “Would you like that quake-a-tini shaken and stirred?” Another clever one was the Aftershock Cocktail. And the creative cocktail list goes on. (Share your own ideas in the comments below.)
Many of us have that last blast of summer soirée planned this weekend…possibly involving a pool, patio, porch or other outdoor venue. Even though a hurricane is near, never fear! Invite Irene inside in the form of your own Hurricane Party. Make it a tropical feast and serve food from the islands like coconut shrimp, jerk chicken sliders and exotic fruit skewers. Here’s a recipe for a classic Hurricane cocktail to serve as your signature drink. This recipe will yield 10-12 servings…perfect for a party! You’ll need 12 ounces of both light and dark rum, 10 ounces grenadine or passion fruit syrup, 10 ounces fresh orange juice, 10 ounces fresh lime juice, three tablespoons superfine sugar and one large orange cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Mix all the ingredients in a tall pitcher or large pot and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a punch bowl and add ice cubes and orange segments. Serve in tall glasses or hurricane glasses over ice with straws. (Little umbrellas optional.) 
Feeling really adventurous? Make it a Gilligan’s Island theme and ask your guests to come dressed as one of the castaways. I attended a Gilligan’s Island themed wine dinner at Blu seafood restaurant in Durham earlier this summer and had fun creating a Mary Ann costume with pieces from my own closet. My friend Debra Barkley shopped her own wardrobe too and glammed it up as Ginger. Guys have it even easier sporting a pair of khaki pants, a button down shirt and a pair of readers as the Professor. With the right hat and colored shirt even the Skipper and Gilligan are easy to pull off. File that idea for later if you don’t have guests that are good sports. Here’s an easy and fun themed idea that’s a sure crowd pleaser. Stay on island time and make your way to Margaritaville. Break out the Buffett and the blender and mix up some margaritas for your thirsty guests. The menu can be anything from island style to Mexican to mini cheeseburgers in paradise.
Don’t let Mother Nature dampen your spirits this weekend. Be prepared and buy your party provisions today. Then ride out the storm in the company of friends and family while sharing classic vacation tales and severe weather related stories. Let’s hope Irene spins her way out to sea. Cheers!

These are my ideas for a hurricane tracking party. Share yours below.    

Your Vacation: Animal Welfare Approved

Please pardon my tardy posting this week. I’m just waking up from the food coma induced by this past Sunday’s Farm to Fork picnic, the annual fundraiser for farmer apprentice programs hosted by NC State’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Slow Food Triangle

Sure I spend much of my time searching out prime food bargains in the Chapelboro, but I’m not a sucker for just any buffet. Stuffing my face with cheap eats just doesn’t satisfy. When we relocated to Chapel Hill from New York City in 2008, my husband and I chose this town largely because the people and snackie establishments here forced us to really think about the origins of our food. We’d sit down for a snack at a bar and see the name of the farm that provided the basil in our pesto. We’d pop into a store for a bottle of wine and see photos of a burly, mustachioed Frenchman standing in the vineyard that sourced the booze in our hands. 

Slowly, quietly, we really started to care about this stuff. The cool thing about this area is that we’ve been able to find lots of other people who care too. The really really cool thing about this area is that there are numerous nonprofits situated within about 30 miles that help people make informed decisions about their food choices. One of my faves just happens to be Animal Welfare Approved

Animal Welfare Approved “audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals with the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a ‘badge of honor for farmers’ and the ‘gold standard,’ AWA has come to be the most highly regarded food label when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability.” 

More than two dozen restaurants in the Chapelboro receive the Animal Welfare Approved label including my crushes Neal’s Deli and The Pig. You can be old school and search for their sticker in the window.  Or you can plan ahead and check out this super cool online search tool to find restaurants, markets, and stores within a specific zip code that serve up Animal Welfare Approved products. Since you can search any zip code in the USA, I’ve found this tool especially handy when traveling. Oh the joys of being an informed tourist

Just a little tip as you prepare to eat and drink your way through another celebration of our nation’s independence. Happy 4th!

Fashion Rules Are Meant To Be Broken…

When Molly Buckley interviewed me on WCHL this week she asked a familiar burning fashion question. “Once and for all, when can I start wearing white?” Good question Molly. Do I give the Emily Post “by the fashion rule book” response or the answer with the regional twist?   Molly got my wardrobe wheels spinning. (Thanks for planting the seed for this week’s column, Molly!) As a style coach, clients routinely ask me questions regarding wardrobe rules. So, I’m sharing a few of the most frequently asked questions and some “guidelines” to follow. 
When can I start wearing white? 
To answer Molly’s question, the old school rule used to be from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This rule always applied more to wearing white shoes than it did to white clothing. Historically, wearing white marked the start of the summer season. Time to head to the summer house in the Hamptons for the New York City slickers or the beach cottage on the Outer Banks (or insert favorite beach destination) for the southern folks. You would wear lighter weight whites in the summer simply to stay cool (especially with a lack of AC back in the day). Come Labor Day and cooler temps, it was time to transition the wardrobe and pack away the whites and pull out the darker clothing.  No matter where you live, more people than ever are breaking this rule. Even Emily Post’s most recent manners bible gives the go-ahead for wearing white after Labor Day. Fortunately, we here in the south get to break a lot of fashion rules. (Like wearing flip flops year round.) Why? Because it’s usually piping hot long before Memorial Day and into the fall, so we can get away with it!  Guideline: Let the heat outside and the fabric of the garment be your guide. You can wear a crisp white cotton button down shirt all year long, but save the white linen for spring and summer.  Once the heat cranks up outside, break out the white in full force. As for white shoes, I like to stick with the old school rule as much as possible.
How can I keep up with fashion trends each season without spending a fortune?
Guideline: My advice is to take inspiration from fashion trends you see or read about when shopping each season. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a new wardrobe or embrace every trend as your own. You can incorporate a few fresh pieces each season without breaking the bank by just adding some new jewelry or a few accent pieces. Most importantly, wear the trends within the context of your own style.  Your unique personal style should always come first!
Men often ask, should my belt and shoes match? 
Guideline: This is a great rule to follow and makes it simple. Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt. The browns don’t have to match exactly, but they should be in the same color family. If you wear athletic shoes every day that means you’re probably wearing jeans, so keep the belt casual.
Should socks match your pants or your shoes? 
Guideline: The official rule on socks is that they should match the color of your pants. Socks with patterns are an exception. And save your white socks for the gym!
Most of my trousers have pleats, can I pull off the flat-front pants that seem to be so popular?
Guideline: Most men can wear a flat-front trouser, even when carrying a few extra pounds. Three reasons I vote for flat-front versus pleats–they have a slimming effect, they are very fashionable and they just look better. Give ‘em a try!
Some people would say the most important rule of fashion is there are no rules!  So don’t get caught up in following all  the old “rules.”  Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who can pull it off.  Just use good judgment, and make sure to take a peek in the mirror before you walk out the door! 
“Fashion is all about happiness. It’s fun. It’s important.
But it’s not medicine.” Donatella Versace
Those are my fashion thoughts for the day. What are your fashion rules or questions? Feel free to comment.