Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Window Shopping Video

Click here to watch a TV segment on Atticus, the store I featured in my September column!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fashion Fun

In the category of “there should be more events like this in Madison” was Atticus’ fall 2008 fashion show last week. Owner Kristin Wild dished up some hot looks that she’ll be carrying this fall including those ever-popular leggings, tunic-like tops, a full skirt, delicate, feminine blouses, skinny jeans, men’s cardigans, T-shirts and much more.
The store’s sensibility is basics that are stepped up a notch. Stuff like a long, fitted, striped cardigan teamed with skinny denim and cute platforms. Or a cute dark denim mini paired with a beautiful black party top and edgy booties. Guys were dressed casually but in a laid back, yet still thoughtful, way.
The models were friends of Wild’s and all did a stellar job selling the looks. In fact a few pieces were bought after the show, according to Wild. The intimate venue (the store) was perfect for audience members to view all of the looks up close and personal.
And in true celeb fashion, all attendees got a goodie bag filled with fun stuff like samples of her apothecary items, a notebook, a Samantha Ronson CD and best of all—a gift certificate for the store.

Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St.204-9001. Atticusshop.com

Fair Trade Friends

When I strolled into SERRV’s sixth-floor offices on State Street last week I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I spoke with marketing director Renee Kalvestrand, she told me that some of MarketPlace India’s artisans will be visiting and I will have the opportunity to interview them—through an interpreter, of course.

I’ve written about SERRV before, that is, when their storefront on Monroe Street was called A Greater Gift (see my May column). A Greater Gift recently changed their name to SERRV, which is their parent organization.
Says Kalvestrand on the change: “SERRV has had a long history—over sixty years. That’s really who we were and having two names was difficult. Going forward we want to be this one strong organization.”
SERRV’s general description is a “nonprofit alternative trade and development organization,” per their website (serrv.org). The SERRV storefront on Monroe Street sells fair-trade items handmade by artisans around the world, from Mexico to Vietnam. With the name change also came a move next door to 2701 Monroe St. The shop gained five hundred square feet of space.

When I arrived for the interview I saw four beautiful Indian women sitting in an ordinary looking conference room. Sunanda Zunjar (to my right) wore a hot pink sari with gold embroidery and a wristful of bangles; Shardha Ghadge (to my left) wore a lovely green sari with purple and gold accents and Nooreen Dossa (closest left) donned a simple white and red tunic with a red wrap. I felt so ordinary in my “western” clothing! Seeing Zunjar, Ghadge and Dossa was like seeing that first tulip pop up in spring in your barren yard: unexpected, yet quietly beautiful.

From talking to the artisans it’s clear that MarketPlace India, a group of women’s co-ops, has made a huge difference in these women’s lives. Says Zunjar, supervisor at the Arpan Cooperative: “In the last twenty years, the guts we have now … we may not look strong from the outside but we’re strong on the inside.”
Shardha Gadge, tailor at the Cooperative, agrees: “The skill training has brought about change in our own lives and benefits the people around us.”
I asked Pushpicka Freitas, president of MarketPlace India and Nooreen Dossa, assistant director of SHARE, about the fifteen-year-old co-op and their trip to the U.S., as well as spoke with Renee Kalvestrand, marketing director for SERRV.

When was MarketPlace started?
Pushpicka Freitas: In 1980 in India, and in 1986 in Evanston (Ill.). We started very small, with three people.

How does the co-op work?
Freitas: It’s really leadership building work. The women run their own co-ops. They determine their cash flow, fabric to order and more. That’s the basis of their leadership development.
They do the quality checking and then it’s shipped over [to Evanston]. In Evanston we manage the shipping; in India, they execute all of the orders.

How do these co-ops affect the women involved?
Freitas: In their identites. [In India] women are identified by their relationship to a man. Women tell us they’ve been helped by [the co-op] because they say they can now make decisions in their families. The artisans also take life-skill enhancement classes.
From 1980 [when we started], there are still some of the same women in the co-op. At that time, they wouldn’t look you in the eye when they talked to you. Now they tell you what to do!
One woman told me that her in-laws started to arrange a marriage for her fourteen-year-old daughter. She talked to her husband, asking him to talk to his parents to prevent it. He told her, “You talk to them; you go to all of these meetings and talk to people. I want you to talk to them.”
It’s that confidence—they’re becoming role models and leaders in their communities.
Nooreen Dossa: [The women] can provide education for their children. The school dropout rate is lower. They are taking professional courses—like computer engineering. They are now thinking long-term about education.
Freitas: No one is getting rich, but they are getting comfortable. The women are now contributing in addition to running the family.
Zunjar (interpreted through Dossa): Now we get out of the house. We use public transportation and travel independently. In March, we had a cancer checkup for the artisans and people in the community. So we took a group of women to the checkup, which was outside of Mumbai. The women are more confident and active now and would not have been able to handle taking the public transportation alone.

How has your experience been in the U.S. so far?
Zunjar (interpreted through Dossa): There are no words to describe the feeling I have—I see one exciting thing, then another exciting thing. We visited the shipping agency and we saw where our catalogs are printed. It’s very important for us to take in this experience, so we can give a good picture of what our lives are like as well as let the let the other women in our group know what it’s like over here.
Renee Kalvestrand: These women influence other women they know—and that all happens because of the value of employment and they’re empowered that way.

P.S.: Check out our shoes in this picture! Clockwise from top left: Zunjar's gold flats, Ghadge's fashionable striped shoes, Dossa's comfy bronze numbers and my leopard pumps.

SERRV, 2701 Monroe St. 233-4438. serrv.org

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall Fashion: The Six Items You Need

Sorry for my hiatus last week, things were busy with magazine deadlines! I’m back and ready to talk to you about what to pick up for fall. Now don’t get me wrong: these are simply suggestions for what I’ve been seeing as smart buys locally at shops and nationally in fashion mags and through my own research. These items for the most part are ones I will (probably) be picking up (or already have!). As always, I suggest adapting these items and looks for what suits you—and no one else. Style is all about what you make it to be, and no one can tell you what you like and don’t like!
One of my recent posts addressed recessionistas; namely, a woman who is able to look fashionable in tough economic times by budgeting smart and saving on trendier items. Take note: all of the pieces I outline below can be bought for big bucks or little bucks. Prioritize what you like the most, spend the majority of your money on that one (or few) item and pick up trendier things that are less expensive, like a piece of jewelry or a jewel-tone item.
If you saw our fashion spread in the September 2008 issue many of the items I outline below we used in that shoot.

Dressy Denim
My research has concluded that there’s not only one must-have, to-die-for style of jeans. Which is good, as some looks aren’t great on everyone (skinny jeans, anyone?). What I am seeing is classic and refined looks in dark washes. (Side note: yes, I know Katie Holmes and every other celebrity in the world is wearing those darn slouchy, baggy, pegged boyfriend jeans and we’re not going there. Just don’t. Unless you’re painting the house, or something.)
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. The trouser jean is the ticket. More refined than the high-waisted, wide-leg look of the summer I say trouser jeans are the way to go. I’m planning on picking up J. Crew’s High Heel Jean (with a remarkable 36” inseam! Yay! The “regular” inseam length is 33” so these are definitely high heel jeans).
I also want to pick up a skinnier-leg jean that I can tuck into boots. I haven’t decided where I will buy those yet but I’m excited to see what’s out there.
Pick up your jeans at: Atticus (shown in picture), Bop, J. Crew, J LaMore, Twigs.

Juicy Jewels
Summer was all about brights: red, yellow and green. Fall’s refined looks are giving way to more sophisticated shades of fuchsia, emerald, sapphire, teal and rust. These shades are showing up in everything from handbags to sweaters. See page 29 in our September issue for a beautiful example of a fun, pumpkin orange cashmere sweater that would be a perfect complement to any outfit. Or check out the Botkier for Target fuchsia handbag I will be sporting this fall (above). The hobo shape and metallic studs are trend-right for any look this season.
Look at page 26 (shown) or page 27 of our fall fashion spread: a rich teal cocktail dress or silk blouse with a geometric, funky honeycomb pattern in jewel tones (teal, fuchsia, eggplant, et cetera) shows how the look can be evening-ready or work-appropriate.
Buy it: Whether it’s H&M or Bop, the look can be found anywhere.

Rock It
So it might be a bit much to show up for work in a pair of strappy, high heeled gladiator sandals or patent leather ankle booties. That’s why you save those for your nights out ☺! Seriously though I’m loving the “refined rocker” look, as I like to call it: pyramid studs, leather, bomber jackets and more. Eighties rock rears its (hair band) head in bits of animal print, but in a quieter way: perhaps you’ll wear a zebra belt or leopard kitten heels. Nothing overboard—sexy, yet classy. Or you could be ridiculous like me and wear your favorite leopard-print high heels to work anytime you feel like it. I’m just saying.
Check out the photo (below) of the belts I’ll be working into my wardrobe this fall. The yellow number has a luxe snakeskin look (what’s more rocker than snakeskin?!), and the leopard and black stretch belt with pyramid studs will all add bits of stylish rocker chic in my life. In case you’re wondering, the hot yellow and leopard belts are from the HospiceCare Thrift Store! Go there, already!
I also love the tough bomber jackets I’ve seen. Most recently a stop into Express yielded several very cute bomber jackets in solids and prints, in leather and other fabrications. J. LaMore is also boasting quite a collection of leather jackets and vests, the epitome of classic.
Buy it: Dazzle (accessories), Express, HospiceCare Thrift Store, J. LaMore.

Make a Statement
Have I talked about how much I like the HospiceCare Thrift Store yet? I’m kidding, I mention them all of the time. In fact I was just there the other week and picked up a piece of statement jewelry myself: a long chain necklace for pennies. Ninety-nine pennies to be exact, pre-tax. That’s right! Statement jewelry is found everywhere from a consignment store to well, a “real” jewelry store.
Look for bejeweled pendants, layers of pearl necklaces, ribbon accents and chains.
Buy it: Any consignment store, Atticus, Dazzle, Patricia Shoppe, Twigs.

Nail It
So let’s say you don’t want to wear leopard print heels. Instead, kick up your look with an edgy nail color (right). If you hate it, you can always take it off!
Trendy colors this season include navy, burgundy, eggplant, black and metallics: gold, silver and gunmetal. A cheap and chic way to take your look up a notch. Sally Hansen offers an array of trendy colors for only $2.49 a pop at Target.
Buy it: Target.

Ladylike Luxe
Whether it’s a feminine frock, ruffled blouse, satin trench coat or pencil skirt, options are endless in what you can find. If you hate dresses, wear a tie-neck blouse with wide-leg trousers. Want to class up your outerwear? Get thee to Target where they sell a fuchsia satin trench coat for—gasp!—$39.99. I’d buy it myself if I didn’t already own a black satin trench coat that I adore. Want a pencil skirt with edge? J LaMore’s wool leopard print combines both.
Locally, Patricia Shoppe always does a wonderful job of incorporating classic feminine looks in updated fabrications.
Or pick up something at a consignment shop. Lady Moxie has new designers as well as affordable and higher-end consignment pieces. Pink Poodle has twelve thousand square feet chock-full of clothing just waiting for you to get your hands on.
If you want real vintage check out Epoch (below) on State Street for hats, gloves, clutches and prim dresses.
Buy it: Bop, Epoch, J LaMore, Lady Moxie, Patricia Shoppe, Pink Poodle, Target, Twigs.

Bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570. shopbop.com
Dazzle, 8426 Old Sauk Rd. 826-4455.
, 214 State St. 255-2385.
HospiceCare Thrift Store, 122 Junction Rd. 833-4556. hospicecareinc.com
J LaMore, 2701 Monroe St. 238-2119. jlamore.com
Lady Moxie, 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268. ladymoxie.com
Pink Poodle, 5918 Odana Rd. 276-7467. thepinkpoodleonline.net
Twigs, 1925 Monroe St. 255-4363. shoptwigs.com

Upcoming Events

Atticus fifty percent off summer items sale
When: Now
Where: Atticus, 18 N. Carroll St.
Time: Regular store hours: Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Information: atticusshop.com

Go Red for Women TV Premiere Party
A party celebrating women’s heart health. Red carpet reception, fashion and an exclusive preview of the Go Red for Women NBC special.
When: September 18
Where: Sundance Cinemas, Hilldale Mall, 702 N. Midvale Blvd.
Time: 5:30 p.m. red carpet and reception; 6:30 p.m. fall fashion preview; 6:45 TV premiere begins.
Information: uwhealth.org/gored

ShopBop Warehouse Clearance Sale
A clearance sale liquidating items from shopbop.com that’s already seventy percent off.
When: September 19–21
Where: Concourse Hotel, 1 W. Dayton St., first floor
Time: Sept. 19, 12–8 p.m.; Sept. 20, 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Sept. 21, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Madison Symphony Orchestra League “An Overture of Style” Fashion Show
What: Fundraiser and fun fashion show for the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
When: October 2
Where: The Edgewater Hotel, 666 Wisconsin Ave.
Time: 5:30 p.m. cocktail and hors d’oeuvres; 7:30 p.m. New York-style fashion show.
Information: madisonsymphony.org

Fashion Fridays: London Calling
A seasonal runway show featuring fall’s hottest looks from Madison and Milwaukee retailers.
When: October 17
Where: TBD
Time: 8 p.m., after-party at Cardinal Bar.
Information: madisonfashionweek.com

Madison Food & Wine Show
With over 150 exhibitors showcasing the finest local and regional gourmet products, expectations are high for the seventh annual show presented by Madison Magazine.
When: October 17–19
Where: Alliant Energy Center, 1 Alliant Energy Center Way.
Time: Oct. 17, 5 p.m.–9 p.m.; Oct. 18, noon–7 p.m.; Oct. 19, noon–4 p.m.
Information: madisonfoodandwineshow.com