Tag Archives: the height of style

2013 Holiday Collection Picks from Peruvian Connection

16 Dec

Warm manta dresses and alpaca mittens. Coated black jeansmoto jackets that glisten. Brown jacquard gift bags with tissue wrappings—if you (like me) count these among your favorite things, you should most certainly get yourself to Peruvian Connection for the cozy delectables that will become your (or her) wintry wardrobe staples. Ranging from the diminutive and sparkly to the overstatedly luxurious, the 2013 holiday collection is full of the feminine alpaca knits you’ve come to expect from the brand, along with jewel-toned taffeta dresses, intricately beaded clutches, and Gothic-inspired baubles that you may not. 2013 has been a banner year for Peruvian Connection—new stores opened in Chicago and on our own Newbury Street here in Boston;  collections thoroughly brimming with pieces that are ageless; romantic, edgy, and versatile. What you’ll find right now in stores and online is suitably far-ranging and sartorially well-traveled.

A corner in the Newbury St. store, replete with taffeta and silk holiday dresses

A corner in the Newbury St. store, replete with taffeta and silk holiday dresses

I popped in out of the winter storm this weekend for a peek at the holiday displays, a chat with the lovely store associates, and to compile my top picks for every holiday wishlist (full of items especially well-suited to the vertically-inclined). If you’re nearby, stop in at 170 Newbury St. to scoop up some gifts, or visit peruvianconnection.com—free ground shipping on your orders will continue right through the 18th (or just about the time Santa begins to pack up his sleigh).

The HEIGHT of Style’s Top 5 Holiday Picks from Peruvian Connection

1. Brixton Pullover ($159, XS-XL): In a airy baby alpaca and wool blend, this dusk blue number boasts  panel draping, rolled edges, and a long, lean silhouette. The Brixton is singular enough to stand out paired with jeans, and versatile enough to pair with a spangled skirt and strappy sandals for an artfully juxtaposed, fete-friendly look.

The view from the street, with the Brixton in the window...

The view from the street, with the Brixton in the window…

2. Stardust Dress ($389. XS-XL): Toeing the very careful line between ‘unabashedly evening’ and ‘everyday workhorse’, this 41″ Deco-inspired dress in midnight blue crochet laced with Lurex is the kind of number you’ll reach for to tuck under a navy-and-black slouchy blazer, or pair with absolutely nothing but jet earrings and evergreen velvet heels for a festive evening out.

The Stardust dress, and a curio full of gems and trinkets

The Stardust Dress, and a curio full of gems and trinkets

3. Teahouse Floral Dress ($199, XS-XL): This understatedly romantic pima knit dress is classic Peruvian Connection—flattering, warm enough for the coldest days, and polished for any occasion. In shades of olive, rust, mallard, and lapis with a flattering v-neck and near-knee hemline (37″ long), this frock would prove a tasteful surprise, perfect for tucking under any tree. (Santa, if you’re reading…this is at the top of my wishlist!)

4. Mongolian Lambskin Vest ($350 on sale, S/M-M/L): Impeccably on-trend and at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sale price, this mongolian shearling vest in natural or espresso is a luxurious piece perfect for a winter weekend, when you’re tucked in a chalet in the mountains…or equally at home paired with coated jeans, ankle boots, and a slouchy knit hat for a jaunt in the city.

Twinkly lamps and the Mongolian vest in natural

Twinkly lamps and the Mongolian Vest in natural

5. Corkscrew Scarf ($85, in rose taupe, cream, or sky blue): These are the scarves to fend off the chills, or offset earthy knit dresses and suede over-the-knee boots, in curlicues of sumptuous mohair. Perfect as stocking stuffers—even better when worked into an accessory package with the jangly Kings Road Cuffs ($39, $29) included.

Corkscrew scarves in shades for all

Corkscrew Scarves in shades for all

Happy Peruvian Connection exploring, and happy holidays, dear readers!

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Long Tall Sally Holiday Collection 2013: Hurry Christmas, Hurry Fast…

5 Nov

(You may want a train that loops the loop—but I just want some LTS loot! )

Though I can hardly stand the wait (and certainly can’t stand not quoting Alvin and The Chipmunks holiday tunes come November)—I think Santa  is probably well aware  (by now) of my desired sartorial pal-late. Oops, and I think I may have surpassed my rhyming quota for the year…

When November rushes in on the heels of October, to the sound of crunching leaves and the smell of woodsmoke—the magic of the season to come seems to suddenly waft in on the icy breeze, as though to enliven the stark gray skies and  infuse a sense of anticipation into the premature dusks. Our first cold snap in Boston came this morning, as the thermometer hovered…and stuck…right around freezing all day. Though I could barely feel my nose and fingertips on my stroll into work today, my mind wandered…to imagine invitations to the most elegant holiday parties arriving by the dozens in my shabby mailbox,  sealed with monogrammed foil stickers and addressed to me in incomparably beautiful scripts. I imagined being invited to exclusive fetes in vast ballrooms bedecked in boxwood garlands and mercury glass orbs—to intimate gatherings in smoky lounges to the tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and clinking champagne glasses—and luxe weekend minibreaks  at cozy chalets with massive roaring fireplaces, and  very handsome waiters serving buttered rum in generous, cinnamon sugar-rimmed double old-fashioneds. But even the best fantasies stale like the extended honk of a Boston taxi driver when you have nothing to wear…

The perfect sequined tunic dress ($249)...

The perfect sequined tunic dress ($249)…

The lace and sequin wrap dress ($225) and cut faux-fur coat ($299)...

The lace and sequin wrap dress ($225) and cut faux-fur coat ($299)…

The embellished woven jacket ($125)...

The embellished woven jacket ($125)…

Fortunately, this season, leggy lovelies, you and I have so many things to wear to every party we could possibly attend—real or imagined. The designers at Long Tall Sally have dreamed up a holiday collection so luxurious and sumptuous, I could have been convinced that it was Vera Wang’s RTW collection for winter. Replete with an ornately-beaded fit and flare dress in black; a buffered bronze lace-and-sequin wrap dress; a sleek faux fur coat with generous sleeves and a slim silhouette;  a perfectly-embellished woven jacket, and even a lace panel black jumpsuit (!!!), these pieces are the stuff holiday parties are made by. Though I have a very modest holiday calendar, I can imagine donning the faux fur coat atop LTS’ leopard flocked skinny jean ($99) and colorblocked sequined sweater ($99), with Sam Edelman’s black suede Morillo ankle bootie ($145) on my feet for a cozy Christmastime outing  with friends—or perhaps that lovely bronze lace and sequin wrap dress with the premium animal ponyhair pump ($145),  topped by the stab stitch crepe jacket ($159) for a look that goes from work party to festive drinks, dinner, and dancing with that special fellow (or best ladies) in your life. But who could forget that stunningly singular, 20s-inspired sequined tunic dress ($249)—for the get-together in a smoky lounge with clinking champagne glasses; the elegant eve in a ballroom strung with twinkling  glass orbs and greenery; or that surprise holiday date out on the town to see the biggest Christmas tree for miles  being lit with thousands of tiny twinkle lights?! I couldn’t, and you shouldn’t, dear readers—it would be nothing short of magical on an elongated frame…

So be sure to get all your gorgeous party pieces from Long Tall Sally, and  check back in soon for my favorite pants, knits, coats, and boots of the season, all available from LTS for your Christmas lists. Plus—a little elf told me that Santa may be stopping by The HEIGHT of Style soon with a holiday shoe giveaway for two lucky tall ladies, so make your list, and check here twice!

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Rockin’ Barefoot Tess’ Ella-Ella-Ella-Eh-Eh-Eh…

11 Mar

If it’s not clear yet—I adore ankle booties. With denim; with dresses; even with fierce pencil skirts and prim lacy tees—and year-round, too! I’ve tried the hidden wedge 80%/20 western-inspired Clyde ankle boot from Barefoot Tess (and loved it) for casual/weekend wear, but hadn’t come across a more elegant, elevated ankle bootie until….the Barefoot Tess Ella. Hey, Barefoot Tess may as well be my Footwear Fairy Godmother!

The TESS by Barefoot Tess ankle boot, c/o BFT

The TESS by Barefoot Tess ankle boot, c/o BFT

Barefoot Tess is my go-to resource for stylish, on-trend shoes in sizes 11-15. With the most comprehensive selection of designer-exclusive shoes from  favorites including Jeffrey Campbell, 80%/20, All Black, and Corso Como AND the fabulous in-house brand TESS, the BFT site is full of shoe-candy that ensures that we tall, larger-footed ladies don’t have to sacrifice style to get comfortable, versatile, made-for-us fits. Particularly, the Barefoot Tess brand offers classic, elegant, European-quality designs—each style in the house line has been meticulously crafted and fit-tested for that that Cinder’ella’ fit. The Ella bootie is certainly worthy of any modern girl in search of her own fairytale!

In sumptuous black and tan suede colorways with a curved vamp and 3″  stacked wood heel, the Ella is as classy and leg-flattering as an ankle boot can possibly get. I have the Ella in the sand suede—ensuring that I will get wear well into the spring and summer months—but I can only imagine that the black is equally magical. I should add that despite the not-insignificant heel, the Ella is incredibly, remarkably comfy. We’re talking wear-it-for-a-day-on-your-feet comfy or hoof-it-into-work-on-unforgiving-city-streets comfy. And at the current sale price of $89.99, this boot is a versatile, affordable, high-quality  ‘must-have’ for any tall girl’s closet. I’m pairing my Ella bootie with vibrant sheaths, tailored work trousers, and of course–jeans and nubby sweaters. And I recently donned this posh little shoe with a boyfriend blazer, silk minidress, and black tights for a photoshoot to promote Stilista, the Boston styling-agency I work for on weekends.

Check out those TESS by BFT Ella booties! Photo courtesy of Rita Rose Photography

Check out those c/o TESS by BFT Ella booties! Photo courtesy of Rita Rose Photography

And would you believe that the wonderful shoot photographer, Rita Rose, advised me to “change up my leg poses, to show off those AMAZINGLY cute shoes”?! She totally did. Try them, and you’ll be looking for ways to show off their amazing cuteness too, I’m sure!

Are you trying out ankle boots for the first time? Flummoxed as to more styling options for Barefoot Tess boots and ankle booties? Be sure to comment or email me, and I’d be happy to advise as to any shoe-centric styling conundrums. And thanks for all the bibbity-bobbity-boo on my shoedrobe, Barefoot Tess!

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Love That (Tall) Body You’re In!

20 Feb

*This blog will be appearing exclusively in Statuesque Magazine. Though it was intended to run on Valentine’s Day, it is just as true a week later…

“To  love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”-Oscar Wilde

Whether you adore or despise Valentine’s Day (I fall somewhere in the middle), February 14th is a great occasion to think about loving…yourself.  Tall women are revered worldwide as being some of the world’s most stunning specimens…and yet, I meet far too many gorgeous vertically-inclined ladies who are unrelentingly harsh with themselves and prone to critique the undeniable physical qualities that make them so unique. At the risk of sounding hypocritical—I am guilty of the same type of body criticism. I not-infrequently misconstrue my height as being a detriment to my femininity instead an asset, and thus wage a war on my self-esteem that can never be won…

So this Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to focus on what you love about your stunning physical presence. Whether it’s your mile-long legs, your elegant arms, or your athletic shoulders (or all of the above), try to focus on at least one aspect that makes you feel positive about your height; makes you feel beautiful; makes you love yourself.  And if you still are having trouble recognizing your own beauty—it doesn’t hurt to consider that men and women alike already perceive you as being more intelligent, capable, and successful just because of your physical gift!

A sweet boy-meets-girl tall ensemble for a night out!

A sweet boy-meets-girl tall ensemble for a night out!

And as a little gift to you, I’ve put together two stunning ensembles practically guaranteed to make you love that tall body you’ve got—especially as all the contained separates are available in tall sizes and extra long lengths. Much love to all you lovely, inspiring tall ladies, and be sure to check The HEIGHT of Style at www.heightofstyleblog.com for more tips, style advice, and product reviews for vertically-inclined fashionistas.

An edgy-chic tall outfit for drinks, bites, and beyond!

An edgy-chic tall outfit for drinks, bites, and beyond!

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Lady Mary Would Likely Wear(-y) Barefoot Tess!

12 Feb

Let’s talk two of my favorite things: Downton Abbey and Barefoot Tess. As an unabashed anglophile, former Victorian & Edwardian literature student, and 1920s style aficionado, my Downton obsession is arguably as natural and expected as my next breath (and as you might guess, as an eldest daughter myself—I am team Lady Mary…) About as precedented is my love for Barefoot Tess’ variety of fashion-forward designer exclusive shoes in sizes that fit me (and all my lovely tall readers) splendidly. So when I came across the new Jeffrey Campbell for BFT ‘Edna’ wedge sandal ($129), these otherwise disparate loves came together in happy, happy union…

Adorbs, is Edna not?!

Adorbs, is Edna not?!

Barefoot Tess carries the largest selection (literally and figuratively) of Jeffrey Campbell’s fashion-forward, inspired designs. Campbell is the mastermind behind the “Where HAVEN’T you seen it?” Lita bootie (available from BFT too) as well as purveyor of exactly the kind of  distinctly feminine, vintage-feel, comfortable heels that I recommend every tall lady have in her shoe wardrobe. The Edna looks straight-out of a 1920s shop window with its charming peep toe, teardrop cutouts, and mary-janeesque ankle strap. I immediately fell in love with the unusual dusty green leather colorway for spring and beyond (…and I say ‘beyond’ as these wedges are well-cushioned and versatile enough to wear every day!)—and then it occurred to me that the ‘Edna’ is exactly the kind of shoe that Lady Mary would fall for too. Perhaps to pair with a dropwaist, spangled dinner dress?

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The Barefoot Tess/Jeffrey Campbell ‘Edna’ wedge sandal in perforated green leather…

Since I don’t have a dropwaist, spangled dinner dress lying around, I channeled all my haughtiness and imperiousness to style the gorgeous Edna as a present-day homage to Lady Mary (and all you Downton-loving, leggy lasses). I love wedges with dresses and an updo for an easy, sweet, warmer-weather-please-come-soon look, but I think the Edna would look equally fabulous with skinny jeans and a striped tee…or even a wedding dress (post to come, but don’t tell my Mr. Crawley yet…)!

My ‘modern’ take on Lady Mary’s style. Dress: Anthropologie, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell ‘Edna’ Wedge Sandal, courtesy of Barefoot Tess

My ‘modern’ take on Lady Mary’s style. Dress: Anthropologie, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell ‘Edna’ Wedge Sandal, courtesy of Barefoot Tess

A note about sizing on BFT’s Edna: I sized up in this shoe, as I find that wedges tend to push my foot forward. I’d recommend sizing up.

Have any questions? Want a recommendation on which colorway works for you when selecting the right ‘Edna’ for your wardrobe? Send me a message or comment below!


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Barefoot Tess Review: Adore Those Ankles!

4 Feb

My sole-centric philosophy is that shoes make the outfit, and ankle boots make the outfit better. As a New England city girl, I place a high value on shoes that can tally many pavement miles, offer coverage and warmth in unreliable weather, and look intentional with everything they’re paired with. Ankle boots fit all these specs AND can be worn year-round…with everything from my favorite Rock and Republic skinnies and a sweater to a flirty sundress and little else (one of my favorite pairings, to boot, haha)! 80% of the time, you can find ankle booties on these very long tootsies of mine. But in reality, I only have 3 existing pairs of ‘em, 2 of which are sadly worse for all that wear they get…

Since I browse Barefoot Tess almost every other day, I had the 80/20% ‘Clyde’ ankle boots in the grey colorway on my radar since the moment they popped up on Barefoot Tess’ website. Barefoot Tess is my chosen destination for on-trend designer exclusives in my otherwise-rare size 12/13s—and since falling in love with BFT-exclusive 80/20% hidden wedge desert boots last winter (and wearing them into the cement), I was waiting for an update. The ‘Clyde’ is a Western-inspired bootie with a flattering lower-cut AND signature hidden wedge that adds a nice 2” boost in height—all in all, the most leg-flattering COMFORTABLE ankle boot you will find. And the grey and navy colorways are much more spring-friendly than black or dark brown booties…

Barefoot Tess' 80%/20% 'Clyde' Ankle Boot

Barefoot Tess’ 80%/20% ‘Clyde’ Ankle Boot

…in short…I had multiple justifications as to why I needed Clyde in my life. Now that I’ve received my boots from BFT, I simply couldn’t be happier with the style, the true-to-size fit, and the experience. I’ve been a customer of Barefoot Tess since 2006 and have kept coming back for their second-to-none attention to customer service and great editorial feel (check out TesSpeaks!). Plus, for any tall girl, it feels right to support the namesake business of Karen Williamson—she initially started the site to help provide her uber-fashionable, vertically-inclined daughter Tess with options in larger-size shoes…

The Clydes, styled for winter. Dress: French Connection, Tights: Legale, Necklace: Eddie Bauer, Shoes: Barefoot Tess

The Clydes, styled for winter. Dress: French Connection, Tights: Legale, Necklace: Eddie Bauer, Shoes: c/o Barefoot Tess

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I styled the Clydes with my fleece-lined tights and a dress from French Connection, but am dreaming of warm spring days when I can wear them bare-legged, hop-skipping my way down the streets of Cambridge. After all, when your larger-sized feet are treated to comfortable, stylish shoes like these, why not hop, skip, and jump for joy?

These booties are incredible on!

These booties are incredible on! (c/o Barefoot Tess)

Stay tuned for more BFT reviews of spring styles, and be sure to check out their newest arrivals and Photo Contest, going on now!

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Fill my stocking with…Elie Tahari

30 Nov

“Clothing should be quieter than the woman so that her true beauty can shine through.”-Elie Tahari

Another year has come and nearly gone, but one of my greatest joys STILL remains helping women of all shapes and sizes express themselves through clothing.

But to begin to accomplish that, a woman has to know herself—and be able to articulate—and embrace—how her preferences, livelihood, personal life, and physical presence defines her. I will tell you that a woman who knows herself IS the most beautiful creature you’ll ever encounter—and you will feel her beauty as well as see it. As a stylist, I’ve worked with countless beauties who DO know themselves but DON’T know what clothing reflects them best. And whether tall, petite, plus-size, curvy, slyph-like, 25 OR 65—I start with putting them into an Elie Tahari dress and see how they feel.

In 99% of cases, they are headed home with that Tahari dress. And with about the same frequency, Tahari becomes one of their favorite designers.

L to R: Elie Tahari Cotton Lolly Dress, $498, Saks Fifth Avenue; T Tahari Calli Colorblock Dress, $128, Nordstrom

L to R: Elie Tahari Cotton Lolly Dress, $498, Saks Fifth Avenue; T Tahari Calli Colorblock Dress, $128, Nordstrom

Tahari is an Israeli-born, self-made designer whose proverbial magic bean has been his prescient forecasting of what women want from clothing—whether that was his flirtatious party dresses of the 70s, power suits of the 80s, minimalist tailored silhouettes of the 90s, or modern, elegant designs for today. Since I’ve been styling, Tahari has been MY magic bean on shopping trips—and  to great success. Luckily, I can practice what I preach. Dear readers, you know me as an exceptionally tall, curvy woman usually sized out of off-the-rack options—and I am always dazzled by how quintessentially me I feel in an impeccably-cut, jewel-toned Tahari shift (and they’re long enough, with the right proportions!).

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L to R: Tahari ASL Ivory Shift Dress, $84, Bluefly; Tahari ASL Coral Asymmetrical Dress, $50, Bluefly

While Tahari dresses and separates ($200-$800ish) certainly aren’t cheap, they also aren’t disposable. And with lower price point diffusion lines like T Tahari (modern, business casual pieces) and Tahari Arthur S. Levine (corporate and classic business wear), every woman of every size can own a beautifully-crafted wardrobe staple.

So tall lovelies, in addition to wishing for some tall-sized goodies in your stocking or under the tree, maybe take a chance and ask for a Tahari. I’m 99% certain you will be feeling your essential beauty shine through this Christmas.

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P.S. What’s on your Christmas list?

 

 

 

 

Jason Wu for Target Launch: The Lowdown

5 Feb

9:27 a.m. on Sunday and I am up and fighting. The only reason why I am not zooming through our apartment with a vacuum in one hand and bottle of Windex in the other is a peacefully-sleeping fiance. I am neither a morning person nor a cleaner, but  waiting outside my local Target at 7:40 a.m. was more rousing than any caffeinated incentive. In a first for The Height of Style, I was there when the doors opened and the launch commenced for the Jason Wu for Target collaboration.

I never even blinked when Versace collaborated with H&M. I shrugged when Missoni collaborated with Target, especially after I had sold two Missoni sweater dresses on eBay for relatively modest prices. But when I caught wind of wunderkind Jason Wu’s low-priced collab, I cleared February 5th weeks in anticipation.

Wu is perhaps best known for designing Michelle Obama’s white inauguration dress, which catapulted him to the top of ‘hot’ lists in 2009, but the young designer has been producing feminine, ladylike ready-to-wear and evening collections since 2006. A step up in sophistication (but somehow, not ethereal femininity) from the Mulleavy sisters’ 2009 Target collaboration (Rodarte for Target), Wu’s collaboration is filled with punchy, sportswear-inspired separates, dresses, and accessories—a cross-Atlantic homage to Jean Seberg and Anna Karina.

I had readied myself to snap up the contrast-collar shirtdress and floral-printed crossbody below, but as I  walked into Target behind a rushing, half-running mass of women, I gamely followed the crowd and deftly picked all the Ls, XLs, and size 12s and 14s from the racks. In a RARE turn of events, I had my pick of the entire (small) collection in terms of sizing—so whereas you tall and/or curvy women may feel sized out—the designer collabs at mass retailers ARE FOR YOU!

Initially, top of my wishlist...

Another strong contender...

As is USUALLY the case, and fully an effect of my initial valuing of aesthetics over flattery—the much-admired shirtdress above looked miserable on me. However, the two dresses below are SPLENDID for both tall and curvy (esp. hourglass-shaped) figures. I  love the shape and substance of the navy stripe-hem dress—it is a high-quality find for the $39.99 price tag. I also recommend the trench for talls, as the sleeves are quite long.

A Wu-hoo win for big-busted, small-waisted women!

A great, wearable pick for busty ladies...

A cute take on a classic...with surprisingly long sleeves!

The lowdown? Worth the wait and worth the morning alarm. Although you’re not looking at linings and fabrics any more elevated than lightweight cottons (at best), these pieces are fun, cute, and great pieces for   a spring or transitional wardrobe for women of all shapes, sizes, AND heights. P.S. Poly-chiffon may be a little low-budget, but for those on the go, machine washability is ALWAYS a plus!

The Height of Style In…Height Goddess Jeans

6 Jul

Here at The Height of Style and in my own styling work, I gravitate toward wardrobe staples—whether they come in the form of tailored blazers, leather jackets, perfectly-fitted LBDs, or great jeans. The last category is a particular sore spot for many tall women—mainstream department stores rarely offer any cut with an inseam longer than 32″ , and designer denim only occasionally works (it’s not so much an inseam issue here as it is a rise issue), with dedicated hunting and shelling out of $150+.

And I’m very particular about my denim. I prefer a straight leg or skinny/peg leg with a mid or high-rise. A tall order (pun intended) indeed, considering that a 36″-38″ skinny or straight leg has to accommodate both my cyclist’s thighs (big) and my dancer’s ankles (small)—and a “mid”-rise is, on me, about 10″—a “high rise” by any other standards. Enter Height Goddess’ straight legged Taylor (on sale now!) in a 37″ inseam, and my tall order is fulfilled.

Top: Vintage silk camisole; Jeans: Height Goddess 'Taylor' Straight Leg; Shoes: Sam Edelman Wedges

Height Goddess denim is designed with tall women in mind—and the shapes of their premium denim styles are flattering to a variety of body types (my curvy frame included). I love the Height Goddess washes, thick, quality weave, and subtlety of the cuts—these jeans won’t ever become “dated”—and the fact that the HG rises all fall above my hips, below my bellybutton (truly mid-rises for talls!) and are flattering without being constricting. Add to this fabulous mix that HG pants and denim come in long (34″-35″), longer (36″-37″), and longest (38″-39″) inseams, and you’ve got yourself a panacea for all your denim woes.  I styled the Taylor straight leg simply with a silk camisole I picked up at a vintage shop and some Sam Edelman wedges, but these lovely jeans have taken me to work with a tweed blazer and out on the town with a romantic, ruffled top.

Check out Height Goddess’ fabulous selection, read HG Designer Lameka Weeks’ Q&A and feel free to email me with any questions about the fit of Height Goddess styles or recommendations for your tall, beautiful frame!

Q&A: Anne Shea of Sarah Vain and Tall

23 Jun

Meet the breathtaking bombshell Anne Shea—former academic, businesswoman, class-act, tall role model AND designer behind the fabulous Sarah Vain and Tall line—a capsule collection of  timeless, perfectly-crafted dresses for a variety of tall body types. Sarah Vain and Tall has been in the works since Anne’s fashion-savvy youth, and the line is featured both online and  in-store at Glamazon Shoes in Ascot Vale, Victoria (Australia). Tall lovelies worldwide, don’t fear—Anne kindly offers free international shipping on Sarah Vain and Tall dresses! She has a gem of a blog as well, so please read up on her latest projects here.

Designer and the next Bond Girl: Anne Shea of Sarah Vain and Tall

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background: where you grew up, whether you have siblings, where you went to university/what you studied, etc.

I grew up in country Victoria, Australia, with tall parents and a tall “little” brother.  We lived in a small town, and I was a bit of a strange kid — obsessed with reading novels, spending all my money on Vogue.  It was a special kind of torture I subjected myself to in those years, dressed in men’s jeans and huge tee shirts, cutting out pictures of couture!

When it was time to leave for Uni I wanted the same things that a lot of ‘odd’ kids from small towns want — the freedom to do, say, make and wear exactly what I wanted!  I studied literature and costume and planned at first to work in the theatre.  I wound up working in a huge research library, and created Sarah Vain and Tall on the side — accidentally perfect.

    Q: What inspired the creation of Sarah Vain and Tall?

Even as a teenager I knew the world needed amazing clothes for tall women — something out of the ordinary.  However I really just made things for myself and friends until social media and easy online shopping came along.  Suddenly it was easy to connect with tall women all over the world and I could have my own online store.  I discovered that I was not the only tall woman who wanted something different, something the established tall stores were not (and are not) offering.

Think of it this way: only about 2% of women are over 5’11″.  That’s a tiny number in a small Australian town, and a huge number when we’re connected worldwide.

So the advent of blogging and Facebook and Twitter was the catalyst for me.  I realized that I could make the dresses I craved and sell them to a small number of women who love them just as much as I do.

I especially love the way this lets me connect with people — especially with girls who are going through the horrible teenage years where being different is just what you don’t want.  I love being different and I hope that our conversations help in some way.  It’s immensely rewarding and I love it.

    Q: Taking into account your current selection of dresses, would you mind running through the four styles and indicating particular flattery points and (tall) body shapes each one fits? 

Of course!  I am trying to make classic dresses that won’t date, and to create for a number of different shapes.  The Audrey and Veruschka are slim line, stretch dresses designed as work-to-evening wear. Both of these dresses are utterly perfect on column shapes and hourglass figures, especially when they’re belted.

Then there are curvy girls like me: I am your classic pear shape!!  The Kenya wrap dress is built for women like me.  Seriously, curvy girls stop traffic in this dress. It’s fantastic to go from feeling too big in the butt (oh hi, denim manufacturers!), to being just woman enough for the dress.

The Betty dress is something completely different, a party classic that’s all sweet Japanese cotton on the outside and all businesslike structure on the inside.  It’s great for anyone from a column to a pear, because it’s got room for curves but if you don’t have any, it’ll fake some for you.  This dress is my favourite right now and I’m wearing it with a little red cardigan.

    Q: Do you have plans to further develop the Sarah Vain and Tall line and add additional separates? And might you sell your designs in United States and UK boutiques, or host pop-up shops internationally?

Oh, yes indeed.  I have deliberately been growing slowly, so that I can refine the fit and quality of the garments I sell.  I started out selling only in person, then online, and now I have one amazing stockist — Glamazon in Ascot Vale, Melbourne (www.glamazonshoes.com.au).

I am definitely planning on more stockists in the future, as long as they are the right stockists.  Pop up stores would also be a lot of fun.  Many people don’t know this but I love to come out and meet groups of friends (or basketball teams!) and show them my clothing.  The thing they always say is “it’s so much nicer on!”  And it makes me all teary when I can fit a girl who has been thinking she is wrong for all the fashionable clothes — when the clothes are simply wrong for her.

    Q: What are some “style staples” for you? How would you classify your wardrobe?

My style staples are classic dresses and huge costume jewels — we tall girls can go bold and I can’t walk past a vintage store without checking out their accessories.  There are often a few amazing pieces lurking around that smaller girls have had to leave on the shelf.

Most important to me is to buy and look after classic garments that I can play with when the fashions change.  There are so very many ways to style a black dress or a wrap and I honestly could not care less what skinny jean is “in” right now.

Q: What are some of your favorite tall-friendly stores/boutiques in the Melbourne area?

I love Glamazon in Ascot Vale.  At the moment they’re my only stockist.  Mira (the owner of the store) and I get on fabulously because we both share the same attitude — there is no reason why tall clothing should be boring. She stocks the most amazing things and really goes out of her way to find cute shoes in big sizes.

Because lots of tall girls have missed out on ‘normal’ shopping, we often don’t have a clear idea of where to shop or what looks good on us.  For that reason I also steer a lot of my clients towards personal styling, and in Melbourne that means Styled By Sally (www.styledbysally.com.au).  Sally McKinnon is 6’0″ tall and she can fit you out or revamp your wardrobe in three hours flat.  A personal stylist makes shopping easy and you often save money when you shop with their VIP cards!

    Q: What piece of style advice would you give tall women?

 Spend smarter money on fewer clothes.  Most people are surprised to find out that I don’t own many clothes at all — three or four skirts and blouses, a handful of dresses, one coat, a small collection of enormous jewellery.  But I love each and every piece and each and every piece fits me.  For me, after years of buying things that don’t fit, that’s heaven.

Thank you, Anne! Be sure to visit Sarah Vain and Tall and snap up a designer dress for yourself! Also, be sure to sign up to win your dream dress from SVT by June 28th—this is one amazing giveaway—and follow SVT on Facebook and via Monthly Newsletter.

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