Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Grammys Red Carpet: Let’s Hear It for the Boys!

I have oft lamented the lack of variety in men’s formal fashions at red carpet events. The wildest variation I can remember in recent years was Christopher Plummer’s plum velvet tux a few years back. The Grammys are often the exception to the rule, however, although the variety generally comes in less formal formal wear. This year, however, I was delighted with the many variations of tuxedos that made appearances among the more casual outfits. So today’s red carpet review is all about men in tuxes.

George Kotsiopoulos rocked this striped tux with bright blue accents and slightly short, cuffed skinny pants with a long dark tie and ice-blue shirt. 

Jesse McCartney paired a slim-fitting but relatively traditional tux with a bright pink-and-black print shirt and no tie. 

Kaskade also followed the buttoned-up-but-tieless trend in a beautifully tailored plum silk tux with black lapels and a black shirt. He lost a few stylish points for also following the sockless trend and for wearing shoes that looked like they had literally been around the block a few times. 

Black Sabbath (Geezer Butler, Tommy Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne) proved that the old-school rockers know how to clean up their acts in minor variations on old-school tuxes, with Ozzy opting for his usual pinstripes. Points to all, particularly Ozzy, for washing their hair prior to the event.

Metallica (Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield) also rocked slight variations on classic tuxes, mixing steel grays, charcoal, and pure white with black. I particularly like Ulrich’s long scarf and mix of shades of gray, as well as his shiny pants.

Steven Tyler looked as amazing as he sounded in this fabulous double-breasted white tux with silver bow tie and gray-and-white shoes. 

Daft Punk may be as avant-garde (and creepy) as they come on stage, but they did a great job of keeping in their character while rocking these classic tuxes. The sparkly but understated silver boots were the perfect accessory.

Kevin Hart might be short but he was long on fashion in this impeccably tailored “brindle” patterned tux jacket and mock boutonniere. 

Lang Lang looked as spectacular on the red carpet as he did at the keyboard in this gorgeous silvery-white brocade tux with black buttons and shawl collar and crisp, hand-tied bow tie.

30 Seconds to Mars (Tomo Milicevic, Shannon Leto, Jared Leto) played down their jackets by pairing them with T-shirts and played them up (in two cases, anyway) with metallic, textured fabrics. 

Hunter Hayes looked youthful but elegant in this barely-purple tux with black satin lapels, open-collared white shirt, and perfectly polished patent pumps.
Austin Mahone managed to blend his trademark lace-up sneakers with this shiny silk tux by coming up with a pair with a shiny patent finish, and added a tiny pop of color in a small pocket square peeking out from behind the wide lapel. 

Miguel’s all-black ensemble paired a classic tux jacket with an untucked (but impeccably pressed), open-collared shirt, shiny pleather pants, and pointed boots. The small cross-shaped brooch on the lapel was a nice touch.

Ryan Lewis and Macklemore updated their tuxes with skinny fits and unusual fabrics; Lewis in a giant hounds-tooth pattern and Macklemore opting for rich teal velvet. The non-traditional but still dressy shoes completed their looks nicely.

I’d say the menfolk represented their gender very well!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Best Things on a Cold Day

It’s cold. Really, REALLY cold. Like, booger-freezing cold.

But there are a lot of things that I really love on a cold day.

A mug of hot cocoa with a big scoop of marshmallow fluff melting into it, stirred with a candy cane.

A bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

Curling up on the couch with a snuggly warm blanket on my lap. Or a cat. Or a small child.

Dinner in front of a roaring fire.

A car with heated seats.

A microwavable beanbag heating pad slipped in between the sheets before bed.

Putting on clothes warm from the dryer.

A hot bubble bath. And a glass of wine.

Fuzzy pants.

Mittens knitted by my grandma. Or someone else’s grandma.

Putting my ice-cold feet on someone else’s toasty warm legs.

Electric blankets.

Thick wool socks.

Fuzzy slippers.

A nice thick rug next to the bed.

Sitting next to the radiator/heating duct/sunny window.

Sweaters with long enough arms that I can pull my hands in and high enough collars that I can tuck my chin (and even nose) inside.

Holding a mug of coffee/tea/hot cocoa up to my face and breathing in the warm steam.

Looking out the window at the snow and just being glad – VERY glad – that I’m inside where it’s warm!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day!

The words “Snow Day” mean different things to different people. To school children, they mean a day of sleeping in and (depending on your age) either texting your friends or playing in the snow all day instead of going to school. To working folks, they mean blowing off shoveling until the temperature hits a positive number, working at home in your PJs all day, and as many extended coffee breaks as you want. To teacher-type working folks, they mean a day to catch up on housework and lesson plans but also a dreadful anticipation of sitting in a classroom in 120-degree weather in late June. To a stay-at-home-mom, they mean an opportunity to have wonderful seasonal fun with your children instead of the usual routine of dragging them, kicking and screaming, to the grocery store (because you did that yesterday, along with the rest of the known universe, once the meteorologists started going mental about the incipient snowpocalypse).

To a stay-at-home mom – at least, to this stay-at-home mom - a snow day will theoretically involve bundling up and making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding on a local hill, maybe even ice-skating, all followed by mugs of hot cocoa with melty marshmallows. A mom of pre-schoolers and toddlers will envision making sno-cones out of clean, fresh snow and fruit juice, and creating beautiful snow- and ice-based crafts like paper snowflakes and glitter-covered polar bears and penguins and, if she surfs Pinterest at all, painting with snow and food coloring.

In her mind, her day will be spent thusly:

In reality, however, her day will look more like this:

Fortunately, no matter how her snow day actually goes, she can always end it like this:

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Better or Worse? The 2014 SAG Awards Red Carpet Review

Since I wrote up such an extensive fashion review of last week’s Critics’ Choice Awards red carpet, instead of doing a complete review of last night’s SAG Awards, I’ll compare a few actresses who wore particularly good or particularly awful gowns last week and rate whether or not they improved their style this weekend.

Amy Adams: Good to Great

I liked Adams’ CC dress, but her SAG gown was even more striking, with its dramatic purple hue, geometric cut-outs, diamond-studded belt, and long slit, yet with a touch of old Hollywood style in her marcelled hair and bright red lips.

Cate Blanchett: Okay to Bad

The front of Blanchett’s CC dress was bland but it was salvaged by a plunging diamond-shaped cutout in the black. Her SAG dress was a more flattering color but a much less flattering cut, looking almost like a maternity dress with its billowy, pink metallic-edged top. Change that metallic hem into a sash and this dress would be a knockout, but as is, it falls flat.

Julie Bowen: Bad to Awful

Bowen’s CC dress just missed the mark due to its clashing colors and overly broad, square shoulders. But she missed it by a mile at the SAG Awards, with a misshapen geometric skirt and a strangely-constructed bodice that thickens her waist. I love the seaming and the color of the orange bodice, but it’s all downhill from there.

Sandra Bullock: Bad to Great
I was very disappointed in the odd color combination of Bullock’s CC gown, but the rich emerald of her SAG gown was perfect with her dark hair and eyes and her fair skin. The simple draping of the gown, the fabulous shoes, and the small detail of the bow at the hip were a vast improvement.

Laura Carmichael: Great to Okay
While I appreciate that Carmichael went for dramatic effect at the SAGs, the stiff drape of her silver gown and painfully-tight updo were not nearly as flattering as her simple black-and-white geometric CC gown. Points for her fabulous strappy sandals and matching clutch and heavy bracelet, though.

Michelle Dockery: Good to Okay
I wanted to love Dockery’s SAG dress; I really, really did. And I do love the black-and-white (particularly against her alabaster skin, dark hair, and bright red lips), and the vest-style top and long straight skirt panels, but the wide, plunging décolleté is too wide, particularly as the white trim blends into her white skin, making her look droopy. I preferred her bell-shaped, feminine print CC gown.

Jennifer Lawrence: Okay to Great
I didn’t hate Lawrence’s CC gown, although I’ve certainly seen her dress better. But her stunning, form-fitting, iridescent spangled sheath at the SAGs was a complete knockout.

Julie Louis-Dreyfus: Good to Okay
Louis-Dreyfus’ CC gown was a great color and cut for her, and worked well despite its simplicity. Her two-tone SAG gown, while not horrible, was just not as flattering, nor was her drab hairstyle and oversized clutch.

Helen Mirren: Great to Okay
Mirren’s CC gown was so lovely and flattering that it would have been hard to beat, so although her SAG dress wasn’t bad, it was still a move down. Her slicked-back hairstyle and coral lips were terrific, but the wide-waisted skirt and blouse with tan detailing just didn’t set off her gorgeousness the way her stunning green CC gown did.

Lupita Nyong’o: Great to Stunning
N’yongo moved from good to better in this bright turquoise sheath. Her simple but unusual CC gown was a flattering color, but her gorgeous dark skin jumped to life against the stunning color of her SAG gown, and the floral neck detailing moved the dress from simple to spectacular.

Sarah Paulson: Bad to Bad
Paulson’s frilly CC gown was at least a pretty color, but the stark white of her SAG dress was NOT an improvement, nor was the swap out of descending ruffles for descending fringe, and the high scoop neck replacing her droopy spaghetti straps called unflattering attention to her neck. Her hair also looked crudely chopped off and had somehow lost its warm honey highlights. At least her shoes and clutch were cute.

Giuliana Rancic: Okay to Great
The tall but slight Rancic often struggles with proportion, and although she was a bit overwhelmed by her CC gown, her SAG gown his all the right notes with its rich purple due, snug fit to the hip, slim black belt, and criss-cross neckline.

Sofia Vergara: Great to Good
I hesitate to call Vergara’s SAG gown “worse,” because it’s really not bad. But her CC gown was truly a stunner, despite its volume. The big turquoise necklace was the perfect accessory, and her va-va-voom figure handled the huge skirt beautifully. Her SAG gown, although pretty, seems to place an undue emphasis on her hips, and without a pop of color somewhere, seems a bit monochromatic and bland compared to her CC look.

Kerry Washington: Good to Bad
I hate to dis a mom-to-be, but if there’s any time that a bare midriff is inappropriate, it’s at an awards ceremony when you’re 3 or 4 months pregnant. The full black skirt is very cute, the fluffy pink “Lana Turner at Schwab’s” sweater and matching clutch are cute, even the pulled-back updo with the girlish headband is cute, but the bared midriff just doesn’t work. Her demure but belly-framing CC outfit was much more flattering – and subtle.

Ariel Winter: Great to Great
I feel like I’m wimping out a bit by giving Winter equal scores for her CC and her SAG gowns, but I really do find them equally lovely and flattering. The color of both suits her, as does the softly gathered style and criss-cross strap/bodice. This young actress (and/or her stylist) has a terrific sense of her own personal style and what looks good on her.

And I’d like to end with a few honorable mentions that I missed at the Critics’ Choice awards, but whose SAG fashions are worthy of mention.

Isla Fisher
Fisher channels 1940s glamour in her champagne-color, bias-cut gown that flares at the knee and puddles into a train. Her subtle makeup, simple wavy hairstyle, and minimal jewelry let this beautiful gown speak for itself.

Jennifer Garner
I am a perennial fan of Garner’s simple yet elegant style. Once again, she opts for a simple, minimally-accessorized gown that sets off all her natural assets in the best possible way.

Camila Alves
I’m not a huge fan of this particular shade of yellow, especially against Alves’ olive skin, but the draping and silhouette are so breathtaking that I have to include it. The shape of the neckline, the gathering at the hip that falls gracefully into a train, the silver sandals…it’s just a terrific look all around.

On the whole, I’d say that the fashions at the Critics Choice and the SAG Awards were pretty equivalent. A few actresses fell a notch, but even more made significant progress. I think Amy Adams gets my vote for favorite SAG gown of the night, a gown I prefer to my favorites worn at the CCs by Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Helen Mirren. I look forward to seeing what these famous ladies break out for the Oscar Awards a few months from now!

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