Styling Tips for DSW’s Epic Winter Boots

DSW booties Photo by Kourosh Karimkhany
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My boyfriend in college hated ankle boots, as we called them back then. He called them faux boots. They represented an artificiality that he mistrusted. He believed they aspired to be real boots, but were too lazy to go through with it. That their wearers were trying to pull one over on passersby: They may look like a boot in the foot, but—GOTCHA!—what you don’t see is the lack of suffocating leather climbing up the shin! This was in the ’90s (and, truth be told, the tail end of the ’80s), when cowboy-style booties were a thing. So perhaps he had a point.

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I’ve long since stopped taking my boyfriend’s (or husband’s, not that he offers any) advice on what I wear. I dress to please myself, and to have fun, and my closet—well the Ikea bookshelf that serves as my shoe storage—has been overrun by booties.

Conveniently for my foot injury (too much dancing with no shoes) booties tend to be comfortable and with a reasonable, walkable heel, like these from DSW. The brown suede is soft, and the heel is present (I need something) but low, and I walked all over Tilden Park in Berkeley with the family wearing them over the weekend.

Whether you agree with my ex that booties are impostors, or like me you love an ankle boot, you’re in luck because DSW has lots of them at amazing prices—both high and low versions. The prices, though, are strictly low, so I don’t think I need to tell you to stock up. Stay tuned for more styling tips next week!

DSW boots

Showin off some new boots in Tilden Park today.

A photo posted by Kristen Philipkoski (@stylenik) on


DSW is the destination for savvy Shoe Lovers everywhere. Customers experience a breathtaking assortment of designer brands at irresistible prices everyday.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by DSW via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of DSW.

What to Wear When You’ve Gained Seven Pounds Over the Holidays

This is my favorite side of the bag, but the other side is cool too!

This is my favorite side of the bag, but the other side is cool too!

Photos by Jennine Jacob

I had to dig deep. Deep into my soul for the desire to leave the house, and deep into the closet for something that would fit over my swollen thighs and belleh.

I had tried one pair of skinny jeans that would not button, and another that transferred entirely too much information to the world. So I gave up on trying to contain my new bulk and went for something that allowed its freedom. I bought these pleated silk pants about five years ago from Hayden Harnett, a Brooklyn handbag designer that had a brief stint with making clothes (I bought many of them including this dress, a silk top that’s still a favorite and I can’t believe it’s never been on the blog (stand by!) and an amazing graphic black and white scarf that I tragically left at a bar and never saw again). The pants worked out well because they allowed room for everything that was going on while not looking entirely shapeless. They zip in the back, which I believe was key. And they are very high waisted with a keyhole and drawstring in the front. I thought it best to wear a garment over that feature at this juncture.

Here's the other side of the bag!

Here’s the other side of the bag!

The sweater is new, a Marc by Marc Jacobs score from Nordstrom Rack—a bit of an impulse buy. I’ve made it no secret I’m favoring “new luxury” and handmade and local and all that, but a friend had a gift card and I’ll admit I didn’t need an arm-twisting to tag along. My parents gave me cash for Christmas in lieu of gifts (which was great!), and I planned to buy a statement-making garment—a fabulous dress or some such. But I saw this sweater (and another very glittery specimen which will certainly appear in an upcoming outfit post) and loved it and knew I’d wear it often. In addition, it accommodates my new girth nicely.

The shoes are by my beloved Freda Salvador, sans the shoe necklace that came with them. For this particular outfit, a less adorned boot seemed appropriate. And isn’t is wonderful to have that option?

The bag! I’m so excited about the bag. Kourosh’s cousins who visited from Iran recently brought it for me from their land of wonderful textiles. It fits my laptop, and I can’t even believe how much they nailed my taste, having never laid eyes on me, and plus the fact that we don’t speak each others’ languages (literally but certainly not figuratively).

Oh and here you can see how the pockets on the pants have a blousing thing happening, which somehow distracts from your actual hip width and makes your waist look smaller.

Oh and here you can see how the pockets on the pants have a blousing thing happening, which somehow distracts from your actual hip width and makes your waist look smaller.

So there you have it. Back to dancing and yoga so hopefully I won’t need to buy a new wardrobe (though that has appealing aspects).

French Braids: When You Need to Get the Hair Out of Your Face

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Photo by Richard Philipkoski
My mom has been telling me to get my hair out of my face pretty much my whole life. When I was in second grade, my hair reached past my waist, and my mother hated combing it. She informed me that she’d tolerate it only until after her wedding that year, in which I would serve as “junior bridesmaid.” After that, I was going short whether I liked it or not. I cried in a corner of the playground during recess at the prospect.

At 8-years-old, my hair was already my security blanket.

Now, a few decades later, it’s still is. I almost never wear my hair up. Shrouded behind hair, my imperfections are less evident, or at least they feel that way from beneath the mane. So it was kind of a big deal for me to be out in the world with French-braided hair. But I knew even without my mom telling me that I needed to get it out of my face for travels from Pennsylvania back to San Francisco with a toddler. Having my head exposed to the general public may have been disconcerting had the extreme volume and energy of my child not dominated every last one of my senses.

But the experience got me thinking of all the hairstyles I sported during my school years post-shag: I had a Dorothy Hamill cut circa 4th grade. That grew into a “feathered” style up until 7th grade when my older cousin from New York taught me the magic of a curling iron. The tool transformed the flat feathers into barrel curls that I then brushed into two big wings, one on each side of my face, until they met at the back of my skull in a vertical line that resembled a butt crack.

Then came the mullet. We called it “ears cut out.” It felt very cool. The following year or so I let it grow in to a shoulder-length bob with bangs and a perm. In my senior year of high school, I had it all chopped into an extremely short-in-the-back style that was longer on the top. I swooped that long part onto one side and sprayed it stiff. In my first year of college, I let one side grow longer than the other for an asymmetrical hairdo. Eventually it grew longer, possibly because of limited access to my stylist and/or lack of funds. I let it grow super long and got my first spiral perm circa 1988. I’ve had nearly the same hair, minus the spiral perm, ever since.

What I’d like to know is: where did I get the confidence to chop off all of my hair my senior year of high school? I remember boys in my class looking at me with wonder asking “why?” “Because I like it!” I said. I didn’t feel one bit self conscious and I didn’t regret the cut for one second. I only wish I could have bottled that confidence so I could take a dose of it now!

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I did enjoy the French braid for a change though. My hair didn’t get caught under my bag strap and Frida didn’t get food in it. I could also see when I searched for diapers and toys and tranquilizers (just kidding) in my carry-on.

I wore this particular outfit the day before our travels following a French braid test-run. The jeans are Gap, booties are c/o Freda Salvador, I bought the jacket at the Alameda Vintage Fashion Faire, and the turquoise earrings are from the Susquehanna Trading Post.

The Toms x Target Collab Is Almost All Gone! Shop It Now

Toms x Target
Photos by Richard Philipkoski

Like I said, the poncho is a must! I literally snatched the very last one from the shelves at the Target at the Tanforan Mall in San Bruno. And I am very sad to tell you that they are now completely sold out (sad face). But there are still a few items available online and in stores (I would hurry!).

I’m so excited to be partnering with Target and TOMS on this holiday gift collection. Each time you buy something from the #TOMSforTarget collection, the brands will give a gift to someone in need: either a blanket via American Red Cross or a week of meals via Feeding America.

I took the poncho out for a test drive while I was visiting my parents in Pennsylvania. My dad is a pretty amazing photographer and I was grateful that he was up for taking these snaps.

Toms x Target
Wearing: My dad’s cable knit sweater knitted by my mom.

Toms x Target
Also wearing: DL1961 Nina in Salt Lake high-rise dlpro skinny jean, read all about them here.

Toms x Target

Toms For Target: One-for-One. For All. Starting November 16th, for every Target+Toms limited edition gift you buy, we’re (Target) giving shoes, a blanket or meals to those in need. #TOMSforTarget

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.

My Mom Made This Cable Knit Sweater and I Love Her

cable knit sweater leather jeans rick owens booties

You may have noticed last week over at The Coveted or on Instagram that Jennine and I showed up for a date to take each others’ outfit photos wearing exactly the same outfit: a cable knit sweater with leather pants. We laughed in her hallway for about 10 minutes before we could do anything about photographs. Here I am in the photo Jennine captured with my idol Frida Kahlo.

My mother knitted this sweater. Can you imagine how much time and work that took? And every ring on my fingers was gifted to me: my engagement ring (obviously), the floral silver ring was my mom’s, the knotted one and stackables with it were a gift from Fiat Lux, and the blue topaz ring was my grandmother’s.

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I bought the Rick Owens boots when I was having a pretty serious life crisis which is my excuse for spending that much money on footwear. The t-shirt is my favorite V-neck from Marine Layer, the leather pants are from Madewell, and the bag is Foley and Corinna.

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I had no idea what I was going to wear for this photo shoot fifteen minutes before I walked out the door. And then all that happened. Who can say what you wear has no meaning?

When an Old Man’s Nightshirt Is So You

poshmark poshfest personal style panel - modern boho

This “dress” might actually be a military-issue nightshirt of some sort, I’m thinking. I picture a mustachioed ship captain wearing it while examining large nautical maps underneath a swaying wax candle chandelier as he plots his course around the pirates. He is probably smoking a pipe. I didn’t have time to ask about that when I ducked into Reliquary to buy it a couple weeks ago because I had Frida in tow, and everyone knows it’s the worst idea to take toddlers clothes shopping. But I really wanted it and I didn’t know when I’d be back to Hayes Valley again and I would be super quick. I know. It’s just that I couldn’t get the washed-to-perfection (I bet in industrial washers) cotton out of my mind after first spying it a few months ago. And I had these black Freda Salvador boots from their sample sale earlier this year that I hadn’t worn yet.

In the dressing room Frida grabbed the curtain and one of the women working there said (very nicely) don’t pull on that honey its old and it could tear and I felt like she thought I wasn’t able to control my kid which I totally can’t while trying on clothing (and at other times) and I wanted to say she’s not really pulling on it she’s just kind of gathering the fabric in her arms but then I realized she was seconds away from yanking and why did I think any of this was a good idea so I kept my mouth shut and was pleased to see that the dress fit perfectly across my shoulders and the length worked.
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Strappy Burgundy Suede Pumps Worn Three Ways

DSW Collab dressed up

I don’t know if it’s the effect of changing trends or my changing tastes, but what I thought was an undying love of platform shoes is kind of dying. Maybe it’s the Sarah Jessica Parker effect, but I’m feeling like wearing more classic, pointed-toe pumps lately.

So when Glam.comm called asking if I wanted to buy some shoes and write about them for a collab with DSW, I figured this was my chance. I landed not one but two pairs of Joes Jeans strappy pumps, one in black and white and one in maroon suede. Here, I’ve styled the maroon version three ways: formal-ish, a daytime look, and a casual weekend look.

I don’t dress up all that much, but with party season approaching, I’m hoping for some opportunities to turn it up a notch. I bought the green dress above at a sale in San Francisco hosted by ModaVive, which sells gently-used fashion and donates money to charities. I love the color and the length. I’ve had the Kenneth Jay Lane necklace forever. The bracelet is a J Crew necklace.
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Blue Sky and Blue Jeans

DL1961 Jeans stylenik
Photos by Jennine Jacob.

When I was little, I begged my mom to wear jeans every day starting in second grade. But she felt strongly a little girl should wear a dress to school. As soon as I was free to choose my own outfits, guess what I wore every single day? I had some NICE acid wash pair, high-rise pleated (anyone remember Zena jeans? Those were my fave.), I had classic Levi’s, and I even had some denim skirts I didn’t mind wearing.

Now in my 40s I wear jeans less often, partly because my style has changed, partly because I can’t really abide tight clothing anymore. But this pair of (tight) DL1961 (they’re the Florence style in Thornton), is different. The jeans make me feel secure rather than like I’m letting in all hang out in a way that should be saved for the club, which is a thing I never frequented and still do not. I did have a short-lived rave phase but no one wore jeans to raves.

The reason these are not only tolerable but my current favorites is because of the 4-way stretch. As I’ve mentioned, it sucks you in but still feels soft. You feel solid but not like you’re wearing a girdle. DL1961 uses a new fiber in their denim (along with cotton and Lycra) called Lenzing proModal, which is so absorbent that they’re testing it in diapers. For jeans, that extra absorbency means the dying, washing and treating process is cut in half, conserving water, dyes, energy and time.

I’m also wearing a top by Amourt Vert and booties from Kurt Geiger (they are surprisingly walkabale despite that treacherous-looking heel) and a clutch by Hayden Harnett. Also, the weather in Pacifica has been amazing. It was a perfect day at Pacifica Pier.
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My New Favorite Jeans: DL 1961 High Rise Ninas

On Balmy Alley in the DL1961s

On Balmy Alley in the DL1961s


Photo by Jennine Jacob

The thigh gap is my unicorn. The space betwixt my upper thighs remains stubbornly dark and gapless as a playback and will, I’m certain, remain so until the day I die. I accept this, even as discussion of the proverbial thigh gap reaches a fever pitch. The Beyonce gap flap made it household terminology—even my husband knows it now. (“Me: Do my thighs look huge in this photo? Husband: No, you have a thigh gap. Me: How do you even know what that is? Him: I read Huffington Post.” And for the record we were discussing the photo above, and I do not have a thigh gap. It’s the way I was standing.) My favorite line in Mary HK Choi’s Kindle Single Oh, Nevermind: “My mother is 63 years old, and her thigh gap is righteous.”
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How Style Bloggers Are Like Frida Kahlo

I just spent nearly an hour trying to orchestrate the perfect selfie, with right the light, framing, posing, etc. Partly it took so long because I have a horribly slow iPhone 4. Partly it’s because I’m obsessed with myself.

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One thing my mother would say about this behavior: “Oh doesn’t she think she’s special?” “Oh for goodness sake,” is another. And I get that it all seems terribly vain. But there’s more than narcissism at work here—it’s also curiosity. What is my place in the world and how does my human form fit into it? I mean don’t we all wonder these things? Some people just wonder to themselves. Others wonder to the whole world.
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