just plain sara: January 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tip it Low

Essence Atkins attending Keith Robinson's Birthday Bash at ONE Sunset on January 23, 2008 in West Hollywood, California.
Nicole Ari Kodjoe arrives to perform all new music from 'As I Am', at exclusive LA performance at Bellavardo Studio on November 17, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
Tomiko Fraser arrives at a kick-off party for Maybelline's Beauty Studio October 26, 2005 in NYC.
Zoe Kravitz attends Entertainment Weekly's Sundance Party held at the Legacy Lodge during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2008 in Park City, Utah.
Rihanna meets fans and hosts a Power 105.1 live broadcast from Planet Hollywood Times Square. Rihanna is promoting her new album Good Girl Gone Bad.

Fedoras have that undeniably old school vibe about them. No matter what outfit you’re wearing, a fedora conjures up memories of Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack. The new school crowd (i.e. our generation) have taken the classic hat to new heights. Women now don fedoras along with their Gucci clutches, Tiffany earrings and Manolos. The women above have this look down to a science and if you need more inspiration check out Erykah and this other Rihanna pic.

My Picks!

a. Blue Denim Fedora, $26.95, www.goomoo.com; b. Cha Cha Bird, $178, www.ravinstyle.com; c. Scaled Fedora Hat, $10.80, www.forever21.com; d. Cha Cha Tilt, $187, www.ravinstyle.com; e. Striped Band Fedora, $28, www.urbanoutfitters.com; f. Havana Straw Fedora, $28, www.urbanoutfitters.com; g. Classic Weave Fedora by Missoni, $295, www.net-a-porter.com; h. Light Black Denim Fedora Hat, $26.95, www.goomoo.com; i. Menswear Fedora, $14.99, www.urbanoutfitters.com; j. Trudy Hat, $29.99, www.fcusbuymail.com; k. The Half Ten Straw Fedora, $38, www.hatsinthebelfry.com; l. Cha Cha Smarty,$114, www.ravinstyle.com

To mix it up, add a different headscarf around the brim to create the illusion of a completely new hat. You could also add brooches, gems and dare I say it, feathers (?!) to personalize it. If you’re worried about looking too pretentious in a fedora don’t worry, confidence is key! Keep your head up and strut with style – you know you’ve got it ;)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shake It Like You Really Mean It!

Shake Your Booty’s inviting and funky store front in DC’s Adams’s Morgan.

D.C. natives have a secret. When they want the best in funky, unique and stylish shoes that don’t break the purse strings, they head to only one place – Shake Your Booty! Most of the shoes are made by unknown designers but don’t let that deter you, cuteness does not discriminate. You can also buy some great accessories at the boutique and I hear they have started selling clothes too. With the fun and zest of a New York Boutique but the prices of a regular high-street store a girl can’t go wrong. Sorry D.C., I just couldn’t keep it a secret anymore!
Left to right: Naughty Monkey, $89.99; President, $69; Madeline, $49.99
Left to right: Sugar Shoes, $39.99; Two Lips Rachelle, $59.99; Rebels Patti

Shake Your Booty
2439 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Store inquiries: 202 518 8205

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vote for Me!!

Ladies I need your help! I've been nominated in the "Fashion" category of the first ever annual Fashion Blog Awards (or the Fabbies). Visit www.fabbies.org now to cast your vote. You have to register before you can start voting but registering only takes a few seconds! While you are there also vote for fellow bloggers Tia Williams and Afrobella who are nominated in the "Beauty" category. Thanks so much in advance :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Down to Business: Piper Carter

Beautiful, black women have battled their way to appear at the front of a camera lens but how do they fare standing behind it? Piper Carter, whom many of you will know from VH1’s hit show “The Shot,” is here to tell us exactly how she made a career for herself as a fashion photographer. Graduating from FIT in May '07 with my BFA in Photography and Digital Media, Piper went on to complete an internship at Vogue working in their photo department. She assisted the photo research team with editorial content for the magazine and the Poiret exhibition which was featured this past summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Costume Institute. With magazine features in French Vogue, British Elle, the New York Times, Trace and Essence magazines, and having shot stars like Erykah Badu and Noemie Lenoir, who else is better equipped to give us the lowdown on how to give Annie Leibovitz a run for her money!

1. What initially drew you to photography? I read it wasn't your original major at Howard.

My first Major at Howard University was Political Science: my mother wanted me to be an Entertainment Lawyer. I changed the following year to Musical Theater (I wanted to be a Choreographer). And finally I changed to Photography after having a really eye-opening moment with my close friend Dale Davis. He helped me see that there are many options in this world. After emerging myself in the major I learned that I have a natural talent for making images. I studied the craft before the digital revolution so I must admit that what initially drew me to Photography was the ability to make magic in the darkroom! That has since been replaced with my love for Photoshop.

2. You also studied at FIT, graduating with a BFA in Photography & Digital Media. Congrats! Do you feel it's necessary to study at a renowned fashion school to work in the fashion industry?

Actually, one doesn’t need to go to school at all to pursue a career in photography. You just need a great eye and good taste! Well, actually sometimes that isn’t even required. This path is based on the subjective view. So you’re kind of at the mercy of the taste of the client. I went to school because I love learning and I just wanted to gain as much knowledge as I could about art history and digital technology with concentrated effort, plus I just wanted to have my Degree.

3. Describe one of your favorite images to date. What were the circumstances surrounding it?

One of my favorite images is of a denim mermaid. It’s the model Hollis topless wearing a couture denim skirt with huge ruffles by a wonderful designer named Leon. She’s covering herself and her head is thrown back. She’s in silhouetted profile. That image makes me feel glad to be a woman! Originally there was a blouse she was supposed to wear but couldn’t get it on over her hair (she had a huge red wig). So she sat on the ground and the stylist was trying to help her get it on. She threw her head back and I saw it. So I just told the stylist to forget about the blouse & get out of the frame and I asked Hollis to cover her breasts and throw her head back completely facing up to the sky and close her eyes…magical!

4. Would you say being a black woman has helped or hindered your career thus far?

Well, I would have to say hindered. Many times people see my website and don’t know if I’m a guy or girl nor what race I am because my name is not typical and sort of interesting. But then when I go into their office for a meeting they seem shocked! Many times editors will tell me to keep trying, keep shooting and come back. Sometimes they’ll say “well we don’t want hip hop this is a fashion story”. And I wonder why they are telling me this because I don’t have any hip hop images on my site nor in my portfolio. And when I try to get work from so-called Black publications I just get a smile. Many times they’ll tell me how much they love me and my work, but really never hire me and I see lots of mediocre images published and think, “Wow! How come this person is getting work from this publication and they tell me I have to go back to the drawing board?” I have gotten a lot of really cool assignments from major fashion institutions anyhow though because I just exercise my winning personality and lots of persistence.

5. Jobs in the creative industries can be tough to come by in the beginning. How do you deal with working sporadically? What keeps you inspired even through the tough times?

Well one never really can stop grinding in this field. I keep reaching out to companies & publications in the States and overseas. I spend a good 3 hours daily just sending out requests for work. I stay inspired because I love what I do and I do make progress no matter how long it takes me nor how many tries.

6. You've worked for major fashion magazines such as French Vogue, British Elle, the New York Times and Trace magazine. Which was the first and how did you handle such a monumental opportunity?

Well British Elle was the first major fashion publication I shot for. I was very nervous but I knew that it was the moment I had been dreaming of. So I had to man up and focus! I just kept it very simple. Clean lighting and just worked to get the best out of the model.

7. You must have learned a few things working as an assistant for so many great photographers. What valuable lessons have you picked up along the way?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned to date is to always stay true to my vision. It can be intimidating to work with Fashion People because they are very aggressive and have a strong personal style. But in the end they hired me for what I bring to the table.

8. You had a hard time on VH1's show "The Shot." Do you think you were fairly portrayed?

I don’t agree with the editing of the show, but one never knows how one is perceived in the eyes of others. For example: on the first challenge on the boat the day before we were given the clothing, and we knew our story had to reflect Stormy Romance. But we didn’t know our location and we didn’t know if we would have one guy and one girl or two guys and a girl. I wanted to hash out story ideas with a plan A & B for each photographer but my teammates didn’t want to work, they wanted to drink & chill so they said I was “annoying” because I wanted to be on point. They said they wanted to deal with it in the morning. But in the morning they all woke up late & didn’t want to discuss anything. They were all like “well I know what I’m going to do”. So, when I was like “listen we need to figure this out as a team what are we the collective going to do they said I was a Tyrant…lol

9. What's next for Piper Carter?

I’m working on a project for Ford Model Agency’s Youtube station, I’ll be shooting the Shows for Fashion Week, & I have an exhibition coming up in March and also in March I’m shooting a Beauty book with a very talented Make up Artist.

10. What is the one single piece of advice you'd give to a young female fashion photographer on the come up?

Work harder than the boys! Don’t be afraid of exercising your femininity when necessary though! Lol be honest about what you do & don’t know, no one knows it all, but find out what you don’t know about. & just shoot as often as possible. & don’t let anyone dictate your future!

Visit http://www.pipercarter.com/ to see more of Piper's work!
A few of Piper's favorite images - her own of course!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Will the Real Style Icons Please Stand Up!

With plenty of photos to feast your eyes on, “Black Style” by Carol Tulloch documents the full spectrum of black fashion and its influences. Every facet of the African Diaspora is explored. Think beyond American soil to West Africa, Jamaica, Britain and Brazil. Don’t expect to see Naomi or Tyra gracing these pages with glossy photo shoots, the appeal of this book is that real people are glorified for their unique and innate sense of style. From weddings to carnivals, clubs to tribal rituals this is one for your personal library. I have it but I waited until the price had dropped. Be advised that this cover (right) is only available in the U.K. The U.S. book cover isn’t nearly as stylish. :(
Photos from inside the book.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Style Spotlight: Jurnee Smollett

At the tender age of twenty one, Jurnee Smollet is already one to watch on the red carpet. Along with Halle Berry and Tracee Ellis Ross, Jurnee makes me want to raid her wardrobe every time I see her. And who is her hairstylist? Hook a sista up! Whether she’s wearing a cocktail dress, jeans or a long evening gown, Jurnee always looks flawless. Now comes the big question… Does she have a stylist or is it all her own doing? I’m going to guess that she has a little help on the side. Since her star is on the rise it makes sense to have someone in the know who can call in some favors and get the best designer outfits. Either way I think 2008 will most definitely be Jurnee’s year.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Once Bitten…

Cute items from Sarah Jessica Parker’s line Bitten
Accessories from the Bitten line

H&M, Forever 21 and Old Navy need to be concerned. Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker is the real deal. With no item costing more than twenty dollars, it is quite possible to buy your entire spring wardrobe for less than $200! Now we have to be realistic here. Don’t expect a pair of $20, oops I mean $19.98 pair of jeans to rival the pair of Miss Sixty’s you have folded in your closet. That said, I think there are some great pieces that can act as “wardrobe fillers” – you know those tops that you can wear under a jacket and it looks cute. Above and below I picked some of the items that stood out on the Bitten site plus Sarah’s key looks of the season. You can click here to see what SJP has to say about her inspirations. What do you think about the line thus far? Do the clothes fit seamlessly into your wardrobe? Or do they look like they’d fall about after one wash?!
Sarah Jessica Parker’s key looks for the season

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nothing Vogue about it!

UNVOGUE.com is the newest online magazine on the block and it’s determined to stand out from the crowd. Its title says it all. According to K. Tyson Perez, the magazine’s Editor in Chief, UNVOGUE.com takes a unique approach to fashion journalism. Their mission statement/opening letter states:

“A magazine that dictates your every fashion move is UNVOGUE. An editor who tells you what you must have to be apart of the “In” crowd is so UNVOGUE. If you are clearing out your closet every six months because a journalist or stylist said to, that is sooo UNVOGUE… A magazine that realizes that its readers are of many races, sizes, colors, religions, economic backgrounds and that they too would love to see themselves represented in the pages they dash to purchase is so UNVOUGE.”

We love it already, although the first issue doesn't seem to portray all the things the magazine claims to be. Click here to see if you too are “UNVOGUE.”

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Take One Dress…

…Wear It Two Ways!
Dress: Jingle Dress, $169.99, www.fcusbuymail.com
Earrings: Lily Hoop, $17, www.isharya.com; Bangle: Zad Gold Metal Dot Bangle, $9, www.lulusfashionlounge.com; Clutch: Nadia Minkoff Silk Floral Clutch Purse, $60, www.accessoriesstudio.com; Heels: Bonda Pumps, $34.90, www.flyjane.net; Coat: Gold Borcade Coat by Matthew Williamson, $1100, www.brownsfashion.com
Jeans: Kasandra in Obscure Wash, $154, www.shoptwigs.com; Jacket: Tokyo Calling Jacket, $118, www.anthropologie.com; Flats: Lovable in Aqua Blue by Nine West, $79, www.piperlime.com; Bangle: Retro Wood Bangle, $6.80, www.forever21.com; Necklace: Owl Eye Medallion Necklace, $6.80, www.forever21.com; Bag: Plaited Handle Bag, $50, www.monsoon.co.uk

If you’re going to spend $150 plus on a dress, you’d better make the most of it. Many people find the perfect shoes, bag and coat to go with their newly purchased dress then move on to the next outfit. Stop that at once! One stylish dress can become almost unrecognizable with a whole new set of accessories. If you need further convincing look at the examples above, your wardrobe is about to double.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What Say We?... Yay or Nay?!

Malinda Williams arrives at the First Sunday premiere at The Cinerama Dome on January 10, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.

Come on now Malinda, we can do better than this. This Grace Jones throw-back dress, that Ms. Williams decided to rock at the premiere of "First Sunday," is almost as awful as the movie itself. The cut doesn't flatter her petite shape, the hood looks awkward as it's almost falling off and don't get me started on the intense, blue eye make-up. A bonified NAY, Malinda!

Pretty, Prints, Perfect!

Above: The "Deep Purple" bag by Lylou Handbags.
Fun, funky, and thoroughly functional, LyLou bags are the must have accessory for the modern woman. Whether you are a fashionista on parade, a mom on the go, a career woman on the rise, or simply the girl-next-door, there's a LyLou bag made especially for you and your unique lifestyle!

Always constructed of the finest, most durable fabrics in patterns ranging from country chic to retro mod and everything in between, the classic design and sturdy form of a LyLou bag make for an accessory that will be with you for a lifetime.

Comfortable enough to sling over your shoulder for an afternoon hike, stylish enough to accompany you on a night on the town, and classy enough to tote to the office, a LyLou bag just might be the most functional fashionable investment you ever make! For more information on how you can own a LyLou bag,visit www.lyloudesign.com.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Workwear 101: Business Casual

Zoe Saldana arriving at the premiere of 'El Cantante' at the Director's Guild of America Theatre on July 31, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
Jada Pinkett Smith makes an appearance at the Preschool of America to read to children and unveil a new book with child safety tools for parents sponsored by Duracell on May 2, 2007 in NYC and Kimora Lee Simmons arrives at the JLO Sweetface Fashion Show in West Village, Manhattan, February 10, 2006 in NYC.

Please take note. Business casual does not have to mean preppy v-necks and crisp white shirts. It’s time to start thinking outside-the-box. Explore fluffy cardigans, bright colored shoes, charming jewelry and A-line, knee-length dresses. Below I picked four pant-shirt combos since we’re still in winter, kinda (global warming has me confused!) For the summer months invest in body skimming, as opposed to body hugging, dresses that linger around your knees.
Tops: Swiss Dot Blouse, $22.80, www.forever21.com; V Neck Ruffle Blouse, $29, www.hotkiss.com; Printed Top with Rickrack Detail by Andrew GN, $750, www.brownsfashion.com; Idaho Cardi, $99.99, www.fcusbuymail.com
Bottoms: Rise Metallic Tweed Trousers, $19.99, www.oldnavy.com; High Waist Trouser, $76, www.topshop.com; Penelope Trouser, $27.80, www.forever21.com; Matelot Trouser, $70, www.topshop.com
Left to right: Marthena, $70, www.aldoshoes.com; Diba Jypsi, $65, www.piperlime.com; Mae, Boutique 9, $130, www.ninewest.com; Lucioa, $80, www.aldoshoes.com
1. Boucle Cardigan with Velvet Belt by Was, $520, www.brownsfashion.com; 2. Hearts Charm Bracelet, $19.99, www.girlprops.com; 3. Equestrian, $229.99, www.shoplush.com; 4. Crazy Dress, $79.99, www.fcusbuymail.com; 5. Stone Necklace, $29.99, www.shoplush.com; 6. Bumpy Rider Jacket, $189.99, www.fcusbuymail.com; 7. Bleeker Leather Large Duffle, $448, www.coach.com; 8. Oh Deer! Praline, $90, www.piperlime.com

Sunday, January 6, 2008


A model wearing one of theURBANcollection.com’s designs.
Left to right: Couture Sequin Pencil Skirt, $89; Peplum Mini Dress, $68; Soft Leopard Sweater, $39 all available at www.theURBANcollection.com

theURBANcollection.com has become my new favorite online retail shopping site. Dedicated to finding clothing, accessories, shoes and home decor with a “vintage and modern mix,” theURBANcollection.com puts fashionable and chic pieces at your fingertips. One of the reasons I love this site is that the clothes are so affordable. Even though they feature items from up-and-coming designers, prices never go above $100. That’s amazing considering the uniqueness and quality of the apparel/accessories. To stay on top of what they have new in stock, visit their fashion journal which is updated regularly.
Top: Tangerine Dream, $32; Pure Style, $29; La Bohemia, $26; Ultima, $54 all available at www.theURBANcollection.com
Bottom: Sienna Snakeskin, $38; Rockin' Safari, $24; Bohemia, $26; Violets O' Mine, $42 all available at www.theURBANcollection.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Going Ga Ga for Argyle?!

Porscha Coleman, Russell Simmons’ girlfriend, attending the 8th Annual Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Youth Holiday Party on December 11, 2007 in New York City & Christina Milian during the filming of ABC’s family movie “Snowglobe.”

Left to right: Argyle Sweater Vest, $22.80, www.forever21.com; Argyle Babydoll Sweater, www.alloy.com; Argyle Cardigan, $24.80, www.forever21.com; V neck Argyle Sweater, $29.90 , H&M
Left to right: Jones New York Collection Argyle Cowl Sweater (Comes in plus size), $99, http://www.nordstrom.com/; Charter Club Cashmere Argyle Pointelle V-Neck Sweater, $59.99, http://www.macys.com/; AdamPlusEve by Adam Lippes, $177, http://www.bluefly.com/; Argyle Sweater Vest, $22.80, http://www.forever21.com/

Who would have thought fashion would look to golfers for inspiration? Hard to believe huh? But if you browse through the knitwear section of your favorite boutique, you’ll notice a sudden upsurge in argyle, female sweaters. Though you can find plenty of traditional argyle sweaters and cardigans (much like Porscha’s above,) think about trying a new take on the style a la Christina Milian or the two sweaters above by Jones NY and Adam Lippes.