Nothing is cooler than wearing a tie when you don’t really have to.
Say your office is casual, and you show up rockin’ neck candy—instant respect. But you have to wear the right tie. Your dad’s “classic” isn’t going to cut it. You need one from Stalward Ltd. The New York-based company makes ties that hand-stitched at a factory on Chicago’s West Side--a bonus in our book.
Instead of looking too precious-silky or cheap-polyestery, these babies are made of vintage and dead stock fabric (leftover material that would otherwise be scrapped). Of course, this also means the selection is limited for each pattern. So if you love it, buy it. I like the heavy twill camo and the retro plaid. Whichever you choose, no one will mess with you if you show up wearing one on Monday morning. Promise.
$72 at Space519, The 900 Shops, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-751-1519
There are so many things to love about this shoe that it’s hard to know where to begin. First there’s the fact that it’s a classic shape, but with enough edge to make it the opposite of boring. There’s the tri-color thing—silver, nude, and black—which means it will go with just about anything in your closet. There’s the mesh over the forefoot, which means your tootsies won’t swelter come midsummer. And there’s the genius thick black stretchy strip that covers the middle of the foot. (The other straps are leather.) That strip makes the shoe covered-up enough to wear at even a conservative office, and it adds stability when you’re dashing across the street. But—here’s the genius part—that strip is removable. Take it off and—presto!—you can go straight from work to a cocktail party. Or you can swap out the black elastic for a nude one (included).
$675 at reedkrakoff.com
Fashion collaborations are everywhere these days, from high (Comme des Garcons + Hermes) to low (Target + Champion), to the point that your eyes can glaze over at the mere mention. One recent collaboration did catch my eye, however—not just for its novelty of disparate entities joining forces, but also because the product that they spawned is gorgeous, practical, and reasonably priced. Chicago designers Creatures of the Wind have teamed up with the W Union Square Hotel in New York to produce a limited number of silk peplum robes in pink and tangerine inspired by a suite they occupied at the hotel while working on the Spring 2013 collection. The robe’s cut and feminine colors capture a sense of the duo’s exceptional runway collection, plus it is utterly practical, which is difficult to say about most designer pieces.
$250 at wnewyorkunionsquare.com
When it comes to skincare, I’ll stick with the same formula for years at a time. Eye creams, however, have always been the exception. I use them religiously, but with zero brand loyalty. I’m so unfaithful, in fact, that I prefer to never buy the same cream twice. With new developments in anti-aging care every day, why would anyone? Currently in my rotation is Miracle Worker Retinoid Eye Repair Cream, a new product by Philosophy. The thick, hydrating formula is pumped with retinoid to improve fine lines and promote collagen growth, plus peptides to brighten skin. So far, I love what I see so much that I just may be back for a repeat.
As with eyeglasses, a large and varied stable of wristwatches can transform the look of an outfit. Both can also cost as much (or more) than the suit or whatever it is you’re wearing. So how to build up the accessory wardrobe? When it comes to watches, how about one showpiece, say a Movado, bolstered by one of the offerings at JackThreads? In case you haven’t heard of it, JackThreads is a members-only site (but anyone can sign up) that holds exclusive sales daily. It has pages of arm candy—dressy, sporty, whimsical, outdoorsy, and functional—from $14.99 to $400. I recently saw this rose gold/cherry Steinhausen Marquis Automatic Calendar for $139.99 (available for $625 here), but the inventory is always changing. So if you see something you like, don’t hesitate.
I spent months silently coveting a coworker’s funky, flawless, and ever-changing manis, wondering how the heck she afforded such luxuries. When I complimented her on her perfect digits, I was floored at the reply: “I just use nail wraps from the drug store.” What? I flashed back to my childhood experiences with Lee Press-On Nails that were here one hour, gone the next; high school and college days of my sloppy, DIY paint jobs; and, in recent years, impatiently sitting at the nail salon and forking over far too much cash for something so futile. Predictably, I’m now hooked on this sticky miracle. The decals are a cinch to apply (there's a how-to video on the website), and the end result lasts nearly as long as—and costs considerably less than—a professional manicure. And since Jamberry offers patterns that run the gamut from fireworks to footballs to flowers (holiday-themed designs too!), I plan to soon own the most talked-about nails in the office.
$15 for 2-3 sets at jamberrynails.net
While I'm generally not a huge Kate Spade fan—over-the-top preppiness not being my thing—I was pleasantly surprised by some of the offerings in her upcoming lower-priced casual line, Saturday. Like this clever reversible coat. While billed as a cape, it's way more practical than that: it's got bracelet-length dolman sleeves, and a hood, and snaps that let you wear it snugged up to your neck during a sudden spring downpour. (The cotton fabric is water resistant.) The breezy silhouette and zingy blue color (reversing to black) are just gravy. While the cape won't be widely available until sometime next month, you can buy it now via a one-week pop-up shop at the shopping site Fab.com (last day: this coming Friday).
Finally. Spring collections are trickling into stores, giving some much-needed newness to barren sale floors. Of course the problem with the beginning of a new season is the issue of wearability. Who could think of buying wispy spring cocktail dresses or shorts when the snow is piled high out on the streets? But there is always the potential of buying great new pieces now that can transition between cold winter winds and warmer spring days. Enter this beautiful silk jumpsuit by Valentino. I can see this work with a pair of high boots, a ’70s-style wide-brimmed wool hat and a great looking cashmere coat. Transformation into a modern-day Jane Birkin complete, you are ready to face the Chicago winter streets.
$4,490 at bergdorfgoodman.com
I’m the type of person who likes a side of salty with her sweet. Kettle corn popcorn: check. Chocolate covered pretzels: yum. Salted caramel: gimme. So it shouldn’t have taken me this long to realize that like my taste buds, my nose would crave the same kind of variety. I already loved Olivina Hand and Body Lotion in Honeysuckle Rose, an all-natural combination of grape seed, olive and avocado oils blended with chamomile, sea algae and aloe vera. Yet it wasn’t until I started switching off between the scents Honeysuckle Rose (summery and sweet) and Fig (sultry with woody base notes) that I found myself completely addicted and in a full-blown spiral of lotion binging. I highly recommend it. At least it’s calorie-free.
$21 at City Olive, 2236 W. Roscoe St., or olivinanapavalley.com
Socks are one of those too-oft-neglected fashion accessories for men. It’s understandable. After all, unless you’re sitting next to someone at a meeting or belly up to a bar on a stool who’s going to see them? Ah, but when they do, and they’re socks as sophisticated, dapper, and whimsical as those from Nigel Knox Socks, you are making a statement about attention to detail that can be as impressive as a great suit. Made in Italy, but with a British sensibility, all of the Knox socks are made from either Pima cotton, Merino wool, or cashmere. I liked the Captain Bellamy Skull & Bones pair. They are enough to pull up the trousers and give a peek. The name alone is a conversation starter. Arrr.
$29.50 each at Crème de la Crème, 903 Green Bay Rd., 847-446-2228, or at nigelknox.com
About this blog
Style Sheet is Chicago magazine’s blog devoted to all things stylish. Every weekday our trusty columnists track down the best offerings in men’s and women’s apparel, beauty, and grooming so you can just sit back and click.
Carly Boers | An associate editor at Chicago magazine, Boers loves a bargain and is addicted to new jeans and cute accessories. Look for her $100-or-less Cheap & Chic pick on Tuesdays.
Heiji Choy Black | Always on the hunt for the new, the exceptional, and the avant garde, Black edits Chicago magazine’s fashion coverage. Look for her Fashion Forward pick on Fridays. Twitter: @heijiblack