Fall is here and one of my favorite ways to stay warm in the cool weather is to wear a blazer.  Whether it’s made of corduroy,  velvet, or jersey, a blazer is one of the most fashionable articles of clothing that you can wear this fall.  And the blazer has been a more recent addition to women’s fashion, becoming a popular item in this designer’s fashion layouts for women (scroll to the bottom to find out).

Below are samples from the 2015 fall runway shows, as well as a vintage Chanel jersey blazer (which is a classic classic).

Slim Fit Virgin Wool Silk Jacket by Burberry

chanel-blazer Chanel; second jersey blazerlouisvuittonsilkblazer

Silk Duchess blazer by Louis Vuitton

mcqueenkickbackjacket with chain and button clasp

Alexander McQueen Kick Back Jacket (blazer)

You might recognize a few of the women pictured below, all rocking the blazer.


Kris Jenner in tassled blazer.  Get her look with this tassled blazer poncho by ASOS.

Rihanna is stunning in a gold satin blazer at the 2015 BET awards.  Get her look with this metallic blazer by Faith Connexion.

Style icons of the ages have made the blazer a versatile part of their looks.


Marilyn Monroe paired her red buttoned blazer with a pencil navy skirt and strappy heels.


Doris Day wearing an oversized blazer paired with breton stripes and white pants for a nautical look.


Grace Kelly in a green blazer with matching suit skirt; accessorizing with pearl earrings, necklace and bracelet.

Not sure which blazer fits your style?  Check out 10 Blazers to Get You Ready for Fall at Elle.com. Of course, polyvore is super helpful too.




And if you love history as much as you love fashion, you’ll want to check out this article about the History of the Blazer over at Town and Country Magazine.   Borrowed from men’s fashion, the blazer has been a staple of women’s fashion and was popularly part of Yves Saint Laurent’s way of dressing women in the 1960s.
I just scored a corduroy maroon blazer at a local consignment store and I have to say I am ver much looking forward to a cool day on which I can wear it.  What’s your favorite blazer?  Do you have a favorite blazer fabric?


“When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.” ~Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

The LBD, or the little black dress as it is popularly known, is an item that everywoman wants to have in her closet.  Popularized in both film and song, the little black dress is a must have for us all.

Of course, the LBD didn’t get its start as the classic and tasteful piece that it is today.  As shown in the famous painting Madame X by John Singer Sargent, the black dress was worn during periods of mourning.  Women were expected to wear only black clothing and accessories for at least the first year and one day of mourning.


In 1926, Coco Chanel introduced the LBD as a classic for everywoman; her first drawing of the LBD, pictured below was referred to by Vogue as “Chanel’s Ford”. Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. Vogue also said that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”


One of the most famous little black dresses of all time is the one worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and designed by Givenchy.


(Image courtesy of Vogue UK)

Fashion icons from every decade looked both fabulous and unforgettable in the LBD.  Marilyn Monroe wore the little black dress for her work in The Asphalt Jungle (1950).


Sophia Loren wore a Christian Dior little black dress, with a sweetheart neckline, in 1955.


Jackie Kennedy Onassis wore a  sleeveless little black dress with a boatneck in this portrait by Richard Avedon in 1961.


Meryl Streep wore a little black dress with a lace, see-through peasant blouse neck and sleeves in 1979 when she was nominated at the Academy Awards for The Deer Hunter.


In the 1980s, Madonna rocked a little black dress too.  Here she is wearing a little black dress with fishnet stockings and a safety pin.


And by 1990, Madonna was fabulous in her sequined black dress for her role in Dick Tracy.


Another popular look for the Little Black Dress in the 1990s was adding a baby doll collar.  Courtney Love made this LBD look very popular.


In the 2000s and beyond the Little Black Dress remains a classic.  Nicole Kidman, Khloe Kardashian, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Michelle Obama all look fabulous in variations on the little black dress.


Style icons of the 60s and 70s, Meryl Streep and Sophia Loren continue to be most fashionable in the LBD.


Of course, once you have a little black dress, you will probably want to add a few more little black dresses as well as a little white dress, a little red dress, and a little dress in the color you look best in.



Essential Dresses


Coco Chanel said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.”

So, in closing, wear your little black dress, wear your smile, be you and be fabulous.


Over the last two weeks, whenever I’m  not working (photographing clients or prepping for a shoot) or wearing my chauffeur’s hat (in service to two adorable little ones), I am sipping tea and turning the pages of two books about Mademoiselle Coco Chanel.  Right now I can’t put down Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney and Mademoiselle Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick.  In fact, I’m reading the books simultaneously so as to compare notes about the inspiring Chanel.

I think what I’m finding most interesting about Coco Chanel’s life, aside from the fact that she transformed women’s fashion and mobility (literally) with her jersey fabrics and ease of movement with women’s wear, is that Chanel transformed herself from a poor country girl into a career woman during a time and place when women were expected to either marry or enter a convent when they became adults.  Chanel’s life path was anything from ordinary, and while she definitely had a difficult childhood and had to be on her own in her early womanhood (a major risk to take in her era), she changed women’s fashion so that it came to represent what we know and (mostly) love today.  I say mostly, because from my understanding, it seems that Chanel’s influence on fashion also included the emaciated look–or what was then called the boyish look. which was Chanel’s body type.  Prior to the 1920s and Chanel’s rise as a style icon, women wore corsets for the s-curve look that was fashionable–however, women with curves also wore fabrics that were flattering to their bodies over their corsets.  Chanel wore jersey, which hung nicely on her thin, boyish frame, but was not necessarily flattering for thicker figures.  While the corset going out of fashion allowed women to move about more freely, Chanel’s adaptation of cheaper but less structured fabrics was not easy for curvier women to wear.



(Coco Chanel in one of her jersey leisure suits.  Image courtesy of What Goes Around)

In any case, Chanel’s influence on women’s fashion was mostly positive.  She was athletic; she loved to ride horses, she swam in the ocean (at a time when women were looked down on for going into the ocean rather than simply watching men sunbathe), and she danced (having had earlier ambitions to work as a singer and as a dancer).

Because of her interests in movement, Chanel borrowed clothing from the men she dated and adapted men’s clothing for women; she wore large men’s pocket coats and had them pulled in; she sewed ribbon and bows onto men’s sweaters, and she even had riding suits tailored for herself made in men’s fashion and refused to wear dresses or ride side saddle.  She made wearing a suntan fashionable during a time when women were expected to have pale, white skin because she was not afraid to be athletic, to be seen as different, and to not look the way that all women were expected to look (which was lots of frou frou, uncomfortable clothing, and long hair).  Coco Chanel wore her hair short, dressed in comfortable clothing, and as we know, was a trend setter whose trends became classics.


(Chanel wearing men’s equestrian pants–how women’s pants were born; image courtesy of Oughton Limited)

Coco Chanel is also the first to bring the classic breton striped shirt  to classic women’s wear that it is today.  Originally known as the mariener or matelot, the striped shirt was worn by the sailors of northern France.   Coco Chanel’s adaptation of the Breton striped shirt to women’s fashion is explained:
“Inspired by sailors, after a visit to the French coast, Coco Chanel introduced the design to the fashion world through her nautical collection in 1917. The Breton top became a symbol of haute-bourgeois loveliness during the pre-war Riviera years.

The introduction of this garment from the traditional working class to female fashion, was a breakaway from the heavily corseted belle epoque fashion of the time. The introduction of more casual wear to women’s fashion was required at the time due to the increase in popularity of seaside destinations, like Saint Tropez. Coco Chanel designed the piece to be paired the shirt with long flared trousers. As the style adapted during the 1930s, the upper class would pair the top with a cravat, blazer and shorts.” (wikifashion)


(Coco Chanel sporting the breton strips with her wide legged trousers)

Over the decades, the striped shirt was adapted into the different fashions of the times.  Marilyn Monroe wore the striped shirt, Audrey Hepburn sported stripes for Funny Face (1956) and “It” girl Edie Sedgewick wore stripes in Andy Warhol’s film Kitchen (1965).

Nowadays the striped shirt is synonymous with chic Parisian wear and is versatile for so many looks. This article by Julee Wilson published at Huffinginton Post is a wonderful tribute to the striped shirt and shows us all the ways we can maximize our striped shirts’ potential.

Below are a few everyday looks that I put together on polyvore




and a few more photos of my favorite style icons of today sporting the striped shirt . . .

(Beyonce looking fabulous in stripes)

(Gorgeous Kate Middleton wearing her favorite Breton stripes)

(Madonna wearing stripes earlier in her career and in 2014)

The popularity of the breton striped shirt doesn’t seem to be waning and fashion has Coco Chanel to thank for making it a part of women’s everyday wear.  I personally love the breton stripe and I can’t wait to put it together with some fun fall trends.

What’s your favorite way to wear breton stripes?


Recently I had a chance to talk with Elisabetta Canalis, Italian actress and model, best known in the U.S. for being on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as a performer on Dancing with the Stars.


At eight o’clock eastern time this past Wednesday, Elisabetta called so that we could talk about her modeling and television work and so that she could share a little bit about a big change in her life: the upcoming birth of her first child with husband Brian Perri, an orthopedic surgeon.  Elisabetta is also working out during her pregnancy to stay in shape and stay healthy. As part of her mission to stay fit, Elisabetta has become an enthusiast and is  vocal about women’s self defense via her practice and teaching of the Israeli martial arts krav maga.


Photo of Elisabetta teaching krav maga.  Photo courtesy of Zimbio

The following is taken from my conversation with Elisabetta on September 2nd:

Jessica Monte: Congratulations on your pregnancy!  You look amazing!!!  So, how are you staying fit during pregnancy?

Elisabetta: I’m feeling good. So exciting!  Just a few weeks away from delivery.  To stay fit, I’m exercising and doing a lot of cardio.  [I do] water gym. (laughing) Dancing is not my thing. I just try to be in shape.

Dancing isn’t your thing . . . but you did Dancing with the Stars?

Yes!!!  Dancing with the Stars wasn’t a fortunate experience because I left after 2 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for the audience and all the emotions. Between Monday and Tuesday, there are millions of people watching you . . . because of the language barrier, it was a strange experience. I understood my partner (Val Chmerovskiy) and the judges but I couldn’t express myself. Everyone was more confident than I was . . .

Was being on DWTS a fun experience?

Yeah, I had fun dancing. I actually learned a little bit more [about dancing]. I had a great partner with a great parnership. He was a very talented dancer. Val is still on the show.

What other kind of television and ad work have you done in the U.S.?

I have been doing a lot of commercials in the United States. And I am hosting television in Italy and Germany.

Can you tell me about the work you’ve done for Vanity Fair and Vogue?

All the things I did for Vanity Fair and Vogue were related to my television work.  I wanted to be a model in college but nobody wanted me because it was in Kate Moss’s time and I had a butt and boobs. An agent noticed me and I wasn’t planning to do T.V.  In Milan, it is a very strict fashion city and you need to have the right measurements. For me, television was better. Also, from doing television, I realized how much I liked contact with people and my personality was better for TV.

Eventually though, your television work lead to modeling.  Can you tell me a little bit about that?

I’ve never been a model but I’ve done interviews and covers, photoshoots for magazines. I’ve never had the real body for modeling or catwalks — all that stuff. I’ve done campaigns, Cavalli underwear . . . everything came from my work on T.V.  I started working in cinema and television and that segued into my work in fashion.  Click here to see Elisabetta’s magazine work.

57_1elisabetta_canalis_peta Elisabetta’s campaign for PETA

From what I’ve read about you, you have a huge presence in Europe.  Do you plan to focus on your work in Europe? Would you ever consider living in the U.S.? 

Italy is where my professional identity is solid.  My husband is American but I’m still not sure where to reside.

How did you meet your husband?

We just had friends in common. I met him one year and a half ago. Everything evolved pretty quickly.  Our baby will arrive in three weeks. I am having girl. I would hope that she will love animals and people and be a sensitive person. Between my husband and me, we love sports so I think she will [too]. We will set a good example for her to be active and fit.

Prior to pregnancy, what were some of your favorite ways to stay active?

I’ve always done exercise, including 10 years of horse back riding. I’ve also been doing Israeli krav maga. (Laughing) Now that I’m pregnant it’s not the best thing to do.  I need to be careful.

How did you become interested in krav maga?

It’s very effective and is mostly taught to women for self defense.  I’ve become more confident since I started krav maga. You want to do this for self defense because you hear of women being attacked walking their dogs or in the street . . . this is basically focused on letting you get home safe. It means if someone is attacking you; it is short distance combat and it allows you to counterract. My reflexes became faster.  It’s important because when you are being attacked you need to be fast . I am now working with the Italian Federation of Krav Maga.

This is a personal question.  Have you and your husband put together a birth plan?


No, we think that everything will be regular and it does help that my husband is a doctor. We know the delivery is all about women and there is nobody else who can replace you in that moment.

I hope I don’t need pain medication but if I need it I will. I am totally pro-epidural and I don’t want to try to be a hero to give birth with no epidural. I will request an epidural if I feel I need it.

Will you be able to spend time with the baby or will you be headed straight back to work?

I will return to work in January for projects in Italy. I do have time to spend time with the baby after she’s born.

What are you most excited about with becoming a mom?

I’m so excited about everything because everyone says it is something you can never imagine. I am happy to try what it means. I never planned to have a baby and never planned to be a model so I didn’t feel that it was something I had to do.  But you find the right person, you fall in love and you can picture yourself with a baby and that’s what happened to me.

How does your husband feel about becoming a dad?

My husband is very excited. We went to my country for a month and vacationed for 20 days and did a baby moon.   (Laughing) We will do another baby moon with the baby when I go back to Italy in January for work.

Speaking of work, what’s next on the agenda?

I live in the United States now. Everything will start next year for me.   There are a bunch of projects in cinema that I will be working on as well.

I have to shoot a big campaign for DEHA [an Italian clothing brand] pilates, yoga and krav maga.  DEHA represents the personality of many women—women who like doing martial arts, yoga, pilates, running. It will represent all of the different options. To show women all the possibilities that women have for fitness.

Thank you so much for talking with me Elisabetta!!!  I’m glad we got to talk about your pregnancy, your modeling and acting experiences, and your work on behalf of women’s self defense via krav maga.

Thank you Jessica!!!  I’m happy to do it.


This week . . . let’s talk about the midi skirt and how it’s back as a trendy classic for fall 2015.    According to Rachel at College Fashion, ” The midi skirt was a popular length in the 1940s, a fashion decade known for its elegance and grace.  This collection of vintage pattern images traces the fashion trends of the time, including the midi.”

See fashion icons Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe in popular midi skirts of the 1940s and 1950s.


Ava Gardner, 1944


John Burr Fairchild’s decree that 1970 would be the year of the midi. “The head of Fairchild Publications and the boss of Women’s Wear Daily…he did not guess that hems would dive this year; he decided.”




But in 1970, Bonnie and Clyde made the midi skirt popular among movie goers.  Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, writing for The Atlantic with her article “The Midi Skirt, Divider of Nations”, explains:

“Theadora Van Runkle’s costumes for the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, set in Depression-era Texas. Faye Dunaway’s instantly iconic berets, clinging sweaters, and calf-length skirts in earthy shades and textures proved an irresistible alternative to micro-minis in synthetic fabrics and day-glo colors. In 1970, Show magazine reflected: “Probably no one imagined at the time that the most far-reaching contribution Bonnie and Clyde would leave to our acid-rock-pop generation was its influence on fashion. Nor that Theadora Van Runkle … would become responsible for the midis and braless bosoms that are the trademark of the early seventies. But that’s just what happened.”


Photo courtesy of Warner

However, even with a renewed interest in the midi skirt after the release of Bonnie and Clyde, the midi skirt was not necessarily coming back as a classic just yet.  Rachel, at College Fashion, explains further:  “In short, the public was not thrilled. In fact, a 1970 poll by New York’s Daily News reported 83% of readers wearing skirts above the knee in sheer defiance of this supposedly fashionable trend.  Others took the midi trend in stride, even putting their reputations on the line. In June of 1970, the high-end department store Bonwit Teller noted that 95% of its fall fashion would be midi-length. To really sell it, the store’s president stated that all salesgirls would be required to wear only one style of skirt while on duty – the midi!”


Rachel at CF, also explains another reason for women’s rejection of the midi skirt with this quote from Mildred Sullivan, director of the New York Couture Business Council, “I don’t hesitate to point the finger directly at Women’s Wear for the outrageous situation. They have consumers believing [this] is the only style they should wear.”


But the midi skirt is back.  It has come in and out of fashion over the decades, and it is arguably a fashion classic.  It’s flattering to women of all body types and it has such  diversity and variety of colors, cuts, and patterns that it makes it appealing to women with all tastes and can look good on everyone.

Here are just a few fashion writers today who love what the midi has to offer:

Ida Street “Return of the Midi”

What Defines Us “Return of the Midi Skirt”

Style Caster “12 Reasons You Desperately Need a Denim Midi Skirt”

Alexandra Shulman “Why I’m Mad About the Midi Skirt”

the gloss “22 ways to glosswear the midi skirt

Personally I can’t wait to add a new midi skirt to my wardrobe.  Below are a few ways to wear this trendy classic.

Tuck a sweater into a suede midi skirt and accessorize with a scarf and clutch,

as featured in Glamour Magazine’s homage to suede skirts



This suede midi skirt available at Ann Taylor looks warm and chic for the fall weather.



And below are a few midi skirt options I found on polyvore.



Here are a few of your favorite celebrities rocking the midi skirt:


Mollie King courtesy of Pop Sugar


Grace Andrews courtesy of She’s a Secret Shopper


Kim Kardashian West in a high waisted midi skirt courtesy of Sitting in the Gray

So now that you know my opinion on the midi skirt–it’s a classic–what is this week’s trend?

As I mentioned in this post’s title, the midi skirt can be trendy.  In fall 2015, the trend for skirts is to change up your midi with a few cuts; add pleats and voila.  Carwash pleats are the way to go in fall 2015.  Below are a few cute ideas for how to wear the carwash midi length skirt:

Carwash pleat skirt by . . . love Maegan


Leather carwash pleats by AELIDA

I put together this board of carwash pleat midi skirts at polyvore:


Carwash Pleat


And this post wouldn’t be complete without sharing a pic of one of today’s style icons out and about with the carwash pleat:
So what do you think?  How will you wear your favorite skirt this fall?  Will you wear the classic midi?  Will you dare to try the carwash pleat?  If you do, please leave a photo comment.  Can’t wait to see these styles on everyone this fall.


Putting together a solid wardrobe is like building a house.  First we select our classic must haves–much in the way of framing out the walls of house–and then we add in trends–like painting the walls of the house and giving a home its personality.

This week I covered the classic black pant and trendy black pants, like Victoria Beckham’s cropped suit pant and Robert Cavalli’s wide legged trousers.  I also shared my love for everything rosy, including Dolce & Gabbana’s preppy rose collection.  Personally, I was eager to put pair the classic black pant with a floral pattern, so I headed out to my favorite shops and searched for the perfect floral for me.

I found this floral blouse by Dahlia and paired it with a pair of classic black trousers and heels.


I also put together a few more outfits pairing the classic black trouser with a denim jacket or trendy plaid.  Of course I love the trendy black wide legged pant and can’t wait to pair it with both a wrap top blouse or a kimono.  And last, wouldn’t this fall’s skinny tie scarves look perfect with the cropped black pant with heels?  I also thought the high necked, lacy Victorian blouse that is all the rage this fall would be cute too!


Black Pants paired with Trends Fall 2015


Stayed tuned.  Next week I’ll be talking classic midi skirts and the trendy carwash pleat.   In the meantime, have a fabulous week and remember that your style and fashion are  fun forms of self expression.  As always, wear what makes you feel good about yourself and have fun with it!


Protected: Fall Clothing Boards

by jessica on August 29, 2015

in Uncategorized

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I’m loving the style ideas in this article by Everygirl which details  the “21 items every woman should have to get through her twenties.”   Items include everything from ballet flats and running shoes to the LBD (little black dress) and skinny jeans.   Their list is tailored for 20 somethings but as a gal in her thirties, I am on board with the list and appreciate their expansion list for 30 somethings, especially the fun red dress and collection of blouses.

A staple of every fashionable wardrobe, as recommended by Everygirl, is the classic black pant.  Being that I’m a big fan of black (and how fabulous this color makes me feel), I thought it would be fun to look at hot black pants for fall 2015 and the style icons who’ve made the black pant the fashion star it is today.

Let’s look at some cute black pants that you’ll see on the runway and in shops this fall.



Accessorize your cropped black trouser with fun shoes and ankle socks . . .

Victoria Beckham cropped suit trousers 

Victoria Beckham cropped suit trousers



And Dakota Johnson looks like a sweetheart in black.  Classic black trousers that is . . . although monochromatic grey is all the rage this fall too.


**Dress up your classic black slacks with black heels and a sweetheart corset**

Stella Mccartney Jasmine Trousers

 Wide legged black pants were strut all over the runways for Fall and Winter 2015.
Hot hot hot.  Flirty, comfy, and so feminine. Why not?  You can find your own flowy black trousers by Roberto Cavalli.

And remember ladies, the black pant is classic for a reason.  These style icons made it a part of their look and ours too.  Aren’t you glad?  I am (wink).

Elizabeth Taylor C. 1956 © 1978 Wallace Seawell MPTV

Elizabeth Taylor: Get Her Look

jean patchett

Jean Patchett: Get Her Look

Black pants are classic and should be included in every woman’s closet–and day to day lives.  We can all rock a pair of black pants–pairing them with blouses and dressing them for the occasion.  I am currently enjoying a love affair with my black Jones New York Soho pant.   Of course, there are many black pants in my closet and in future.  Stayed tuned for some looks I’ve put together with the classic black pant . . .


Roses are easing us into the fall season.  Put on those rose colored glasses with some pink and red, and voila.

Alex Lubomirski is rosy for Harpers Bazaar





And Dolce & Gabbana is rosy too.


Dolce & Gabbana Winter Rosesdolce-and-gabbana-fall-winter-2015-2016-collection-womenswear-roses-shop-by-look-1180x1848-mediumWinter Rose Dolce & Gabbana



Rose Baby Doll Dress


Forever 21

Rose Print Smocked Shorts



Forever 21

Target Floral Print Wallet with Clasp



Vintage Scoop Neck Sleeveless Rose Pleated Dress




Featured: Fashion Icons. August 2015.

by jessica on August 24, 2015

in Uncategorized

A few of my favorite fashion icons . . .

Who’s yours?