Basics for a Bargain: Leather Pants Inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ciara, & More!


Part of what I love about fall fashion is how stylishly we can embrace texture!  Wearing leather is a fabulous way to upgrade any cotton button-down from day-to-night, but when it comes to leather pants, we have some really awesome celebrity inspiration for a number of very fashionable looks.  Leather pants can certainly be made into an item for any style & it’s a great basic, if worn the right way.

If you’re preppy, add a gray cableknit sweater with some patent leather mary janes.  Or let the diva in you show off a lacey bustier top with your skinny leather pants & some major platforms.  Leather pants aren’t necessarily just for a rock & roll look, but they definitely add that extra splash of edge with a blouse, tweed jacket, or tunic top.

Jennifer Lopez is on the set of her latest music video, wearing Balmain leather pants with a metallic sweater from H&M & studded Christian Louboutin pumps.  With extra zipper details & stacked bangles, this look is very high-profile for day, but also party-ready for evening.  Fergie takes in a day of travel in caramel colored leather leggings, a Balenciaga printed top, gold sandals, oversized shades, & hoop earrings, all while sporting a tight bun, perfect for letting your outfit get all the attention.  Ciara leaves a New York City hotel wearing destroyed Rag & Bone trousers with a shirt by Equipment, Louboutin platforms, & tote by Givenchy. She looks effortless & veyr natural, not pairing her rich pants with anything too flashy.  Gwyneth Paltrow made an appearance on The Early Show, doing a cooking segment while promoting her new cookbook, wearing straight leg motorcycle pants by The Row & finished off her look in a printed silk top & feminine ballet flats.

I went on a hunt to find affordable leather / faux leather pants to upgrade the bottoms in any Style Darling’s wardrobe.  My main goal was to find something $100 or less & I came pretty close to that with these chic finds.  @Victoria’s Secret, the pencil pants in black are $59.50.  You could take a cue from the model in the picture & try on this style of leather pant with a heavy knit.  What makes leather look even more luxurious is the combination against neutral shades like gray or cream.

For $66.00, head over to Topshop for these faux leather skinny trousers which would look perfect with a graphic tee & menswear vest for day.  If you already wear knit leggings or jeggings, then you’ve got to have leather-inspired bottoms like these!  Marked down from $130.00, Bluefly has on sale the BCBGeneration faux leather skinny pants for $77.35.  These slim fit bottoms are especially stylish for a girl’s night out or date night with your beau.

Of course, I haven’t forgotten about my plus-size Style Darlings who can take advantage of the Jessica London leather jeggings @One Stop Plus.  These are available in sizes 12-28, but range in price from $119.99 – $139.99.  Considering that leather pants are a must-have basic, investing the money in just one pair will last you a long time & can be worn just about any season (but be careful on sticky, humid summer days!).

Since our celebrity-inspirations were also wearing leather pants in the brown family, I searched high & low to find affordable look-alikes, but could only come across the rich brown leather pants from Jamin Leather for $55.00.  Break out your favorite black tank, metallic accessories, & pointed toe pumps to dress these up & you’ll be on your way to a very luxurious fall!

Who do you think wears leather the best?  Would you wear leather or faux leather pants this season?  How much would you spend on them?  Do you think the leather leggings trend is over or just getting started?  Happy Styling!

Red Carpet Review: Jesscia Chastain’s Summer of Style!


You may not know who Jessica Chastain is now, or maybe you recognize the fair redhead from a few recent red carpet events, but after this year’s whopping seven movies starring the California native, you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of her!  Since May of this year, the actress has been seen everywhere all summer long, promoting films like The Help, The Debt & The Tree of Life. Some of her co-stars include very high profile names like Brad Pitt, Ralph Fiennes, Al Pacino, & Gerard Butler.

During her various appearances at press events, screenings, & premieres, we see how her ladylike red carpet looks are helping catapult her into further stardom.  First Jessica plays with structure in a single sleeved teal Roland Mouret dress with a small neon green patch at the waste, perfect for posing on the red carpet.  Obviously a fan of the designer, she wears Roland  Mouret again, but this time in a muted gray / dusty blue dress with pewter sandals by Dana Davis.  At the annual luncheon given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, she turned up the style in a lacey Emilio Pucci dress with black satin peep toe pumps.  The girl knows her color palette, as this bright cobalt really highlights her flawless skin & radiant hair.  At the premiere of The Help, she choose one of fall’s biggest trends: jewel tones.  In a ruched sweetheart Oscar de la Renta gown, metallic Jimmy Choo shoes, & drop turquoise earrings, she came pretty close to stealing attention away from the film’s star, Emma Stone.

She keeps its demure, but regal in a navy wrap dress by Doo.Ri at an In Style event, also wearing feathered earrings & patent Christian Louboutin pumps.  At the New York City screening of The Debt, she lightened up her look with a soft robin’s egg blue tiered dress by Christian Dior, Harry Winston diamonds, & nude Louboutins.  Part of what I love about this look, aside from the dess, is her smoky shadow, which makes this even more sultry & Old Hollywood.  Even when she’s not attending an official press event, she looks every bit a movie star.  The papparazzi caught her making a coffee run in a classic polka dot Dolce & Gabbana dress with Louboutin slingbacks, a tan cardigan, & square-framed shades.  Most recently, at a press conference for The Tree of Life in Beverly Hills, Jessica played up a 50s inspired lavender sheath with neutral strappy sandals & hoop earrings.

Take a look at these above stills from some of this year’s must-see movies, as well as a video clip below of Jessica attending the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (Style Darling coverage here & here), discussing her time studying at Juilliard, working on Take Shelter, as well as her whirlwind career.

Who’s your favorite newcomer on the red carpet this summer?  Are you excited about any of Jessica’s upcoming movies?  Which look of hers is your favorite?  Happy Styling!

Quickie Darling Deal & Steal: Chanel’s Denim-Inspired Nail Polish For Fashion’s Night Out!


In preparation for Fashion’s Night Out, the legendary house of Chanel has created three very exclusive & limited-time nail polishes.  To some, they may just look like blue polish, but they are denim-inspired in shades of the all-American fabric.  As you can see from the image to the right, the polishes have cute names like Coco Blue, Blue Boy, & Blue Rebel.

Courtesy of In Style, I learned that these colors will only be available at Chanel stores or on Chanel.com, starting September 8th, the night of the famed international shopping event in New York City.

There’s no word yet on how much the polishes will cost, but to treat yourself to one luxury item, nail polish seems like a good bet b/c no matter what outfit you’re wearing, if you splash on a little color to your nails, you can go to the grocery store with Chanel, have brunch with Chanel, wear Chanel to happy hour, & even go to sleep with Chanel, without having to splurge on more costly items like silk scarves, cashmere sweaters, or fine leather shoes (although I would love them all!)!

Be sure to check out the website for Fashion’s Night Out to see the countdown to the big day, as well as listings of collections, events, & where to shop! Happy Styling!

The Stylish Five: Fall Accessories For Every Style Darling ($10 & Under)!


Sometimes it just takes a few extra accessories to totally change the way an outfit looks, especially when you’re transitioning from summer to fall.

I love featuring accessories among The Stylish Five b/c it’s just so easy to find affordable items, especially @Forever 21, my first-stop for accessories (both on the blog & in my own shopping).  Now these aren’t necessarily fall-centered items, but they’re out now & that means that you can add them to your wardrobe as we prepare for the layers of knits & booties.

The 3-D rose wallet is multi-functional since it doubles as an evening wristlet.  If you don’t wanna worry about losing a fancier item for a night of karaoke with friends at a bar, this $9.50 buy is exactly what you need & it matches everything!  Not only that, but it also works for day if you’re running around town.  The scarf is darling, especially since it comes in five different colors.  For $5.50, you could invest in all of them as early holiday gifts to your favorite girlfriends.  Find coordinating colors to their personalities & it’ll be extra special!  Since I’m ready for my end-of-the-summer haircut, I’ve been pulling my bangs back with bobby pins & the lace chiffon pin is a super steal for $1.50!  I actually do own this one in black & gray from a few years ago & love adding it to an updo when I’m not having a great hair day.

Let’s face it, there are days when wearing heels & getting all dolled up is just not in the cards, so beak out a cute pair of cotton tennis shoes! At a steal of a price for only $5.50, they come in six different colors, including magenta, black, white, blue, & gray!  If you pair them with dark denim straight leg jeans, a plaid button-down, & string of pearls, the look is instantly chic, but still casual & feminine!  AND, these make me think of that line in Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love:” Tennis shoes, don’t even need to buy a new dress

Lastly, my favorite item is the “Tour of Paris” tote, made from recycled materials & perfect to throw over your shower, holding your Kindle, iPad, & any extra necessities.  And did I mention that it’s only $1.50? Again, if you buy a bunch of these & the scarves, you’re halfway set to giving a fun variety gift!

What are your favorite bargain items this season? How much are you willing to spend on accessories like scarves & tote bags?  Happy Styling!

Style ABC’s (x3): G is for Gucci, Gossip Girl, & Gisele Bundchen!


is for Gucci, Gossip Girl, & Gisele Bundchen! In the latest edition of Style ABC’s (x3), we’re taking a look at one of my favorite brands (even though I don’t own anything by it)… Gucci is an Italian fashion house, known mostly for its leather goods, but as you can tell by the runway & red carpet shots below, the brand is nothing short of modern, elegant, & chic!

Jennifer Lopez was seen at this year’s Met Costume Institute Gala (check out the red carpet here) in a fuchsia cut-out dress with a floral shrug & nearly stole the spotlight from the hundred of other fabulously-dressed celebrities who attended the prestigious formal event.  In addition, Jessica Alba wore the one-shoulder sparkling blue fitted dress at an event for the brand.  Also, Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne dazzled at last year’s Emmy’s in a white & gold Grecian-inspired gown (for more on the ceremony’s red carpet, click here).

If you’re looking to score some Gucci goods, then you’re gonna have to either head to the Gucci online boutique, or do some digging of your own on sites like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s (accessories only), Bluefly, or Amazon.

Do you fancy yourself a Gucci girl?  What’s your favorite piece?  How much would you spend on a Gucci item?  What’s your favorite red carpet look by the designer?  For more on Gucci’s runway collections, check out In Style‘s designer dossier!

Gossip Girl is certainly not the television show to watch for quality drama & dialogue, but it’s definitely made an admirable attempt to step into the much younger Manolo Blahniks of the small screen likes of the Sex & the City ladies.

Now, there’s so much I can say to describe the fabulousness of Blair Waldorf (played viciously by Leighton Meester) & her sometimes BFFrenemy Serena Van Der Woodsen (played by the legging Blake Lively) in terms of their preppy, bombshell, girl-next-door, meets boho style.  Blair & Serena are the main focus of the melodrama, but over the years, the show has dressed up Taylor Momsen, Jessica Szhor, Hilary Duff, Katie Cassidy, Kelly Rutherford, & Michelle Trachtenberg in big name designer labels.  Below are some of the best looks that I wanted to share b/c you can’t have a “G”-themed blog without mentioning the show.  For more dirt behind the duds, check out In Style‘s Gossip Girl Profile.

Who’s your favorite Gossip Girl?  Do you follow the red carpet feud between Blake & Leighton?  If you could step into one of the character’s closets, whose closet would it be?  Do you think that the upper east side gals are dressing age-appropriately?

Gisele Bundchen is the highest paid model & has been since 2004.  How could you figure otherwise when you see the gorgeous Brazilian wife of Tom Brady looking super fabulous not just on, but off the runway as well?!  She’s got veteran supermodels like Naomi Campbell & Claudia Schiffer in her corner, & had posed for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, & Balenciaga.

SIDENOTE: Do you remember the little scene in The Devil Wears Prada right before Anne Hathaway emerges from her Stanley Tucci-guided makeover?  Emily Blunt is complaining about Anne’s character Andy & then the ugly duckling comes in & there’s Gisele Bundchen in a leather pencil skirt & readers saying how good Andy looks!  The part always makes me laugh, although I’m hoping Gisele’s acting aspirations end there.

Most recently, Gisele attended Morgan Freeman’s AFI Achievement Award & stunned fashion critics in the ornate pewter Oscar de la Renta gown with a stunning hot pink belt (image on the far right).  The (relatively) new mom has got her body back in shape, making men & women everywhere drool!  The former Victoria’s Secret model works a runway & red carpet like no one else!  I can’t wait to see what else she has in store!

For more on Gisele’s style, check out STYLE.COM’s photo gallery of the model throughout her very enduring career in fashion. Happy Styling!

Quickie Darling Deal & Steal: Last Minute Clearance Buys @Lulu’s!


I know I’ve been focusing on a lot of the fabulous fall fashions that hit the runways, but I haven’t lost sight of my true Style Darling ways.  I discovered these amazing sale finds @Lulu’s.  All of these pieces are reduced in price from the original & can be mixed & matched with lots of items that you probably already have! While I realize that their size selection is limited, it’s still a steal for those who can benefit from it.

The rich navy velvet dress is striking & regal.  At just $15.00, you can keep it youthful with fishnets & thread earrings for any evening affair. Florals aren’t just for summer & spring, but the floral empire blouse is perfect for any season, especially for $15.00.  Play with the colors in the top to create a neutral, dark, or soft palette, depending on what look you’re seeking.  Or you can just keep it simple with your favorite wash of jeans & ballet flats when you wanna be casual.

I love colored tights for the fall!  The merlot tights are $15.00 & make any pair of metallic platform sandals fall-ready, especially with an a-line skirt & cardigan set.  They also look very rich against a shiny brocade or jacquard item.  Speaking of something shiny, the shimmering skirt is a little bit disco & a little bit 80s at the same time.  Marked down from $48.00 to $33.00, it’s the pop of color you need with a black blouse & boyfriend blazer!

The green one-shoulder dress is $22.00, marked down from $32.00, & can be worn over jeans or with your favorite leggings.  Be sure to add some layered beads with this or stacked bangles for some more dimension.  Slap a belt over the $25.00 cream top with your favorite tea-length skirt, preferably something denim or corduroy to get that crisp autumn deel!

You can never really have enough wedges & these belted peep toes for $24.00 are the essential neutral item of footwear for next year’s summer season!  The dolman jacket for $35.00 is the perfect piece for to play with proportion & edge if you’re pairing it with a sexy pinstripe pencil skirt or with your favorite wide leg jeans.

Where do you find the best end-of-the-season deals?  What’s on your must-have list for next year?  How much do you invest in clearance items?  Happy Styling!

Super Style Wishlist: Valentino ruffle dress + Jimmy Choo booties & Lavin jacket = Chic!


I can’t help but fall in love with the fall / winter collections from all the latest designers, even though I’m on a serious spending budget this season, so mush so that spending more than $25 on jeans seems crazy! But a Style Darling can dream, right?

When I was snooping around Bergdorf Goodman, I became smitten with the red ruffled Valentino dress.  I automatically think about textured or patterned tights.  Of course the dress can do that when there are Sousan open work tights by Wolford just waiting to slip on ya?  These aren’t completely unattainable for $24.00, but you could get about 4 different pairs of tights for that much @Target!

I know every gal is mad for boots, but I’m more of a bootie / shootie fan.  The black mesh & suede platform booties by Jimmy Choo are universally stylish all season long, especially with skinny jeans, leggings, or a belted sweater dress.  Which brings me to the Alexander McQueen golden buckle leather belt…. it’s multi-functional for many different look & adds that extra bit of edge against something so soft & flirty.  When it starts to get cooler out, try on the Lanvin ruffled-collar jacket, of course made in Italy!  The shape is perfect for this dress & even helps a pair of pants look more lush!

For the final finishing touches, the Valentino Demetra leather-lace bag will set you back $2875.00, so I suggest making that mortgage payment & just sighing in the delicacy of its beautiful lace design… As for jewelry, I adore the gold Lana shoe necklace– perfect for any Style Darling! It’s just enough for the busy neckline & looks fabulous with basics like a button-down shirt & trousers.  If you want to make a look like this cocktail-ready, try a super fancy ring like Henry Dunay’s gold Sabi ring.  Stay away from wearing a necklace & earrings together, especially since the dress has a ruffled neckline, but the ring is an awesome choice, shining against the bright red color embracing your figure. And the grand total for this look is…. over $15,000.00!

Do you like this look?  Would you wear it?  Can you find inexpensive look-alikes?  Which piece is / pieces are on your wishlist?  What’s your spending limit on items like these?  Happy Styling!

Red Carpet Review / Runway Rundown: Who Loves Dolce & Gabbana’s Stars Print? Fergie, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, & More! That’s Who!


Dolce & Gabbana‘s latest fall / winter collection is headed for the stars- seriously! While playing with classic silhouettes in pencil skirts, flowy blouses, & oversized blazers, the mix of the celestial black & white pattern stands out even more with sequins, lace, animal print, & fur.  These are just a few of the very fabulous runway looks, courtesy of the official website. Even the separate items can be matched with dark denim skinny jeans, a bold tee, & colorful pointed tow heels & socks (as pictured).  To shop for these items, head over to Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter, & Saks Fifth Avenue.  Which is your favorite?  Do you think stars look juvenile or luxury?

But if the runway isn’t somewhere you normally hang, take a look at the latest fashion magazine covers & their stylish cover girls, donning star-themed dresses by the famed fashion house.  This includes One Day‘s Anne Hathaway for Marie Claire, pop princess Britney Spears for Harper’s Bazaar, & everyone’s favorite Virgo, Beyonce for In Style!

And since this is a partial red carpet post… Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a slew of celebs of all styles opting for astronomical-inspired looks, as opposed to the tradition go-to polka dots or a simple LBD for camera-ready events.  First there’s Rose McGowan shows off her figured in a ruches sweetheart dress, Fergie isn’t afraid of color in the yellow & black mini, a very pregnant Jessica Alba wears a comfortable & elegant halter, Rosario Dawson plays with voluminous sleeves, Olivia Wilde sneaks around in sequins, Kim Kardashian isn’t afraid to wear curve-hugging stars during the dat, & Lily Allen is ladylike in a white coat & black tights.  Lastly, Evan Rachel Wood & Solange Knowles take on this print in legwear, both pairing the pants with loose-fitting tops & a masculine black jacket!

For more on Dolce & Gabbana, check out our Style ABC’s (x3) post, featuring the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson as the brand’s cosmetic spokesmodel.  Also, check out past runway shows at In Style!  Happy Styling!

8/23/11 Darling of the Day: Kerry Washington’s Wild Side in Express & Christian Louboutin!


Actress Kerry Washington recently made an appearance at Jennifer Klein’s annual Day of Indulgence party wearing a mix of affordable & luxury brands.  The wild leopard short-sleeved blouse is from Ann Taylor which she paired with Express red jeggings.  Last week’s guest judge on Project Runway was also sporting lace-up booties by Tory Burch & carried a Christian Louboutin clutch.

The balance of animal print here is very edgy, yet still elegant for a day event.  Red is a sometimes risky color to pair with leopard, but here we see Kerry pulling off the look flawlessly with some feminine flair.

It was hard to find the original blouse worn here, but I discovered that it is currently out of stock, since it was an item from an earlier season.  However, @Ann Taylor, you can find this leopard print trench blouse for $88.00.  That’s a high cost for a top, but if you’re looking to stay as true to the inspired look, that’s the best way to go!  I was able to recover the exact Zelda red jeggings from Express, which cost $69.90.  These are also available in other colors & with embellishments like studding.

@Payless, Christian Siriano‘s new line for fall has arrived & this includes the modern harness ankle boot for $69.00.  While this also may seem like a lot of money to spend on a pair of shoes, sign up at the store’s website to get coupons emailed to you & news on all the latest sales so that you never have to pay full price for a luxury pair of shoes like these!

The final touch comes from Kohl’s.  The leopard clutch by Relic is a great deal for $31.90, marked down from $58.00.  It’s a classic piece to wear with your favorite LBD or for something as chic & tailored as this day look.

For more on Kerry Washington, check out her two previous appearances on Darling of the Day from back in January @Sundance & in November in a sexy all-black look.  In addition, if you’re an Ann Taylor shopper, check out my recent post about the brand’s newest spokesmodel, Demi Moore.

Finally, just to keep with the fabulousness of leopard (& all the other beautiful animals of the jungle), take a click on over to last week’s post about affordable animal-inspired accessories in Quickie Darling Deal & Steal! Happy Styling!

The $100 Challenge: Mix Up Your Summer Pieces with Fall Style!


The IT color for this fall is green (YES!), which is of course, my favorite color.  My point for thing specific post is to show how you can take a summer item, like this one shoulder dress in light green from The Limited, marked down to $24.99 from $89.90!  It’s dressy enough for a summer wedding or a cocktail party, but to incorporate the pastel piece into your fall wardrobe, contrast its delicacy with darker, heavier companions.

I love textured & patterned tights, so these black lace mesh tights already add a darker element to the look & are only $5.80 @Forever 21 (also available in brown too)! The best way to work on layering is with a voluminous sweater, like the chunky knit cardigan for $12.50 (available in 7 different colors).  It’s perfect for over a plaid button-down shirt dress or even something as soft & feminine as the dress.  To keep the shape of the dress & flatter your figure, you can pair a wide belt with a flower buckle for $10.50 from Wet Seal over the cardigan.

Since there’s so much going on at the top of the look, let’s focus on the bottom with slouchy buckle strap boots for $24.20 @GOjane.  The boots are an excellent investment for the season since they can be matched with skinny jeans for a casual day as well. When you’re working with so much shape, be sure to keep an eye on proportion & these boots do just that!

The accessories helps make the look more casual & edgy, as well as sleek & playful.  The two-finger leaf ring is $6.60 @Kohl’s, complimenting the whimsical flower on the belt & print on the tights.  I went with the tri-tone hammered bangles for $7.70.  The copper & gold both look very rich against the soft hue of the dress.  Since the accessories & layering pieces are so big, I picked out really cute star stud earrings that are only $1.50 from Forever 21 that will help frame your face, especially if you’ve got your hair in an updo.

Lastly, there’s nothing like a reusable tote bag, like the owl bag for $1.50.  It’s easy to store in your car, or inside another purse if you’re preparing for a day of shopping.  Our grand total is (before taxes)…. $97.58! Happy Styling!