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The Evolution of Mary-Kate and Ashley

June 16, 2015

Most people can’t legitimately claim that they’ve been famous since their first year of birth…and then there’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They scored their first acting job at six months and have managed to grow up in the limelight without many of the adverse affects that plague child stars.

It’s really quite impressive how they went from this:

to this:

 

And in case you haven’t been following along with general fashion news, (or missed this blog post) that last picture is from this past month when the girls won Women’s Wear Designer of the Year at the Annual CFDA Awards (read: big f-ing deal).

So just for the fun of it, here’s a fun little chronological look at MK and Ash through the ages.

Full House:

Every child in who grew up in the 90’s watched Full House. It was THE show.

Moving on to the Movies:

To Grandmother's House We Go.jpg

At some point during Full House, Mary-Kate and Ashley started filming movies. Insert collective mind blowing to every 90’s child who thus found out ‘Michelle Tanner’ was in fact two people.

How the West Was Fun.jpg

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They seemed to like the whole movie thing (do what works, right?) because that continued on for a while. Clearly, they were the hottest name in tweens.

The Fan Club:

What is any successful 90’s actress/icon without a fan club? (answer: nothing). Butterfly clips, tattoo chokers, tube tops…this picture is totally worthy to sit beside my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

The Awkward Years = Conquered:

Maybe it’s to the credit of a great PR team and some amazing stylists, but MK and A somehow seamlessly avoided the whole awkward teen gap. It’s like they jumped from 15 to 19 in one fluid motion.

The College Year:

It was as if turning 18 and later going to college (if only for a year) gave the girls permission to let loose from the PR clutch and be themselves. Enter: the boho years.

Defining Style:

mary kate and ashley fashion intro

After a while of wearing every single article of clothing they could find (usually all at once), the twins finally found their style. Around the same time they launched their label: The Row…which, in my opinion, is one of the most wearable high fashion lines available.  (picture credit)

Currently:

A look from the Row’s Spring 2015 line. As someone just a year younger than the twins, it blows my mind to think that they started this line a mere year after graduating high school (for me. it would be two years for them…but still). (photo creds)

My hat really goes off to these two ladies. They have worked hard to get where they are. Yes, I’m sure they’ve received a lot of help. Yes, they do have quite a bit of money to work with. However, at the end of the day, it takes quite a bit of stamina to grow up, discover yourself, and pursue your passions in the midst of every paparazzi on Earth.

What are your thoughts on the dynamic duo?

Cheers,

Bucky

My Top 3 Mottos for Work

June 8, 2015

Many of you have probably arrived at this post because you know me, others may have ended up here by clicking on the opening banner on my website, while some of you either follow along regularly on the blog or just stopped by for the fun of it.

If you’re in the latter half, and have no idea what website I’m referring to and probably don’t have much knowledge about what I do or who I am- this next paragraph is for you.

I am an entrepreneur fashion designer who sells women’s clothing primarily through my e-commerce site: www.lesliebuchanan.com. While I don’t usually get too personal on this blog (what I make for dinner isn’t nearly as personal as my successes and failures) I do want to write a post about my experience with my company.

My label, Buchanan, has been around for a little over two years (if you count the first several months of purely conceptual business plan activities). Looking back over the last 24 months, I am amazed at how much the business has changed. Yes, the key components from the business plan are still consistent (high quality clothing, limited production runs, etc) but other pieces have been added while still others have shifted (sustainability movements and target markets, respectively).

One of the first revelations I had was: If it’s not working, or it doesn’t feel right- try something else.

I started off making high end clothing for a very small target market. It was fine, but quite honestly, it wasn’t me. I was catering to a very specific customer, and while that isn’t bad, I spent most of my days realizing that no one around me would ever be able to afford my clothes. In fact, I remember having a horrible conversation during a Women’s Group at church that started with a woman asking me what I did. I replied that I was a women’s clothing designer. The woman then started telling me about how she just received a catalogue in the mail that had shirts for $60! She was clearly appalled as she told me this story and I spent the 2 minutes praying that she wouldn’t ask me how much my shirts were. Luckily, she didn’t.

That’s when I realized: I couldn’t make ‘affordable for everyone’ clothes, but I could make ‘much more affordable than I was’ clothing.

It wasn’t that I was just jacking up prices and taking advantage of people. I was just buying very nice expensive fabric. But I soon realized, that people didn’t really care. Nor did they want to take care of expensive fabric (usually it’s a dry clean only kind of world). Buying more affordable fabrics allowed me to produce more affordable clothing. Which in turn, ended up increasing my sales. That was great, except then I felt like I had turned into a mass producing monster spewing out lots of new clothes into the world. Which lead to my second revelation:

I care about the environment and I have the power to change my industry

In my heart and my own life, I was living by the principle: buy less and buy better. In my work, however, I was encouraging others to buy more, more, more! (Although, I do feel like I was successful in making better quality clothing). At some point, I was either going to go crazy living a double standard, or I was going to change some principles of my business.

This caused me to sit down and ask myself the following: what do I really want out of this company? What do I want this company to be? How can I help others with my work?

While my original business plan had the answers to these questions all along, I had written them in very political ways. You know the kind: sweeping statements of truth that were perfect for a banker’s approval, but less great for daily remembrances of self. So, when I answered these questions a second time, I dumbed them down and gave them an almost motto like feel.

  1. My clothes should make women feel empowered. Empowered—> confident, beautiful, comfortable, proud of who they are and how they look.
  2. My manufacturing processes should be as environmentally friendly as possible.
  3. I will not produce anything that I would not want in my own closet.

Words are great, but without actions, they are simply words. Here’s how I have, and how I plan to continue forth fulfilling these objectives.

1. Clothes that empower. It’s hard to feel empowered wearing something that doesn’t fit. I make a sample garment in my size and test it out for about a week before I make any duplicates. It’s also difficult to feel special when you are wearing the same thing as five million other people. That’s why I produce limited quantities. The chance of you wearing the same Buchanan piece as someone else is slim to none. You were not mass produced, so why should your clothing be?

2. Environmentally Conscious. My main resource is fabric. I knew that if I wanted to make advances to being an environmentally caring company, I needed to pay attention to where I source my fabric from. Many fashion houses have fabric that they over ordered and are ready to simply throw away. I jump in and buy up that fabric. I also look for natural fabrics whenever possible. It’s not much, but it’s something. I take care to craft clothing that is high quality and will stand the test of time. Additionally, I never recommend a customer buy something unless they ‘absolutely love it’. Do I lose sales that way? Absolutely. But the garment always gets sold to someone who does love it. Better to be loved and worn than to sit in a closet forever and then head to the landfill.

3. The Golden Rule of Clothing Design. I understand that everyone has different tastes, but if I wouldn’t want my own clothing in my closet WHY would I even think of selling it to anyone else? If the quality isn’t good enough for me, it’s not good enough for you. If the fit isn’t right for me, it’s not going to be right for you either.

I have a corkboard right above my computer at work where I have printed out this picture of my 3 mottos. I opted to write ‘fashion design’ instead of ‘Buchanan’ because I feel that the whole industry could use a little more of this.

Fashion Design Mottos

As my company continues to change, as I’m sure it will, I have these reminders to keep me on track. This Fall I’m going to take my mottos to the extreme. Essentially, my Fall collection will be a capsule collection of ‘the season’s greatest hits’. And I don’t mean trendiest hits, I mean- ‘these are the only 10 pieces I will need to have in my closet all Fall long’. I should be rolling Fall out around August, stay be sure to follow along on the blog, on Facebook, or on the website to see the new pieces. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. You never know until you try though.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I always love feedback.

-Leslie Friedman Buchanan (aka to frequent visitors of the blog: Bucky)

The Great Spinach Dip Experiment

June 4, 2015

Several days ago I went a little crazy with the spinach purchasing at the grocery store. I had already used used two bags in every way possible, so now I had to come up with some new recipes or risk losing my last bag (not an option). The first possibility that popped into my head was spinach dip. Of course! I’ll make spinach dip and use up a lot of my spinach.

There are, however, a couple small problems with me making spinach dip:

  1. I have no idea how to make spinach dip, let alone how to make it vegan
  2. I have no idea what even goes into spinach dip
  3. I don’t know if I can say that I’ve ever actually eaten spinach dip
  4. I don’t even know how you serve it…hot? cold?

Clearly, spinach dip hasn’t made a lot of appearances in my life. But boy was I hellbent on making the stuff this week.

After a half hour of researching recipes, I concluded that I was just going to make it up (not a new idea on my front). The resulting dip was super light, fresh and delicious. I have no idea if it actually tasted like ‘real spinach dip’ or not, but whatever. Ironically, ‘real spinach dip’ is mostly other ingredients with only some spinach in it. Here’s a little step by step with pictures:

Step 1: Gather ingredients

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I used: a whole 10oz package of spinach, one small onion, about 1/4 cup of soymilk, and 5oz of cashews. I soaked the cashews for 20-30 minutes prior to soften them up (dispose of water before adding to mixer).

Step 2: Process that business

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Left—> Everything above went into the food processer and this was the end result. Note- you can’t put all the spinach in at once. I gradually added it until I finally ran out.

Right—> I read that a lot of people will use water chestnuts in their dip to give it a crunch. I thought celery would work well, so I chopped up a couple stalks and hand mixed them in to the final product.

Step 3: Give it a friend

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Originally, I had bought a baguette from the store to go with the dip. I don’t usually have bread in the house, however, and after two days that was ancient history. After returning home from the store (again) only to realize that I forgot to purchase another baguette (yes, you aren’t the only other person that does that) I decided to go homemade. Making your own bread is easy; I’m just lazy. I literally used the recipe on the back of the yeast package.

Step 4: Eat!!

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Do these coasters look familiar?? I made them from our wedding invitations back in 2013. Here’s the original blog post.

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So delicious! It ended up making a lot, but it was definitely worth it. It would be really great to have at a party as a healthier alternative to traditional spinach dip (which, according to my research, is full of stuff like mayonnaise. gross)

And, in case you were wondering…I served it cold. Smile Happy munching!

Xoxo,

Bucky

CFDA Fashion Awards 2015

June 2, 2015

The ultimate odd couple award show was held last night—have you seen the pictures yet? They always prove to be highly amusing. I’m referencing the CFDA Fashion Awards (Council of Fashion Designers of America). It’s really the only show that people really wear want they want. It’s also the only time you’ll see almost every man with a woman taller than him. I call it the odd couple awards because of quintessential pictures of designers with their models. You have tiny men, larger women, and curvaceous women all paired with your average amazon super model who is sporting the designer’s clothes. I particularly like these photo shoots when the woman is a designer because she is usually also wearing her own clothes. So you get to see what it looks like on someone 9 feet tall and someone 4 feet tall. Clearly those heights are exaggerated, but with the Olsen twins clocking in at 5 feet it’s not far off. Enjoy some of my favs from the event:

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For these pictures and more…visit www.Style.com

And in case you are wondering who the winners were….

Womenswear Designer of the Year: Ashley Olsen & Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row

Menswear Designer of the Year: Tom Ford

Accessory Designer of the Year: Tabitha Simmons

Swarovski Award for Womenswear: Rosie Assoulin

Swarovski Award for Menswear: Shayne Oliver for Hood by Air

Swarovski Award for Accessory Design: Rachel Mansur & Floriana Gavriel for Mansur Gavriel

Huge props to all the winners- they absolutely deserve it. At some point I need to do a whole  blog post just on the Olsen girls. They really are a fascinating pair. Until then, Happy Tuesday!

xoxo, Bucky

Tackling the Capsule Wardrobe

May 29, 2015

Maybe you dropped by the other day when we talked about whether a capsule wardrobe is right for you or not. If you didn’t, or if you have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is, then rewind a bit back to here where I hash out the newest trend in wardrobing (yes, that is a word…now).

If you love the idea (or maybe just want to get your feet wet) and have no idea of where or how to start, have no fear! It’s really much easier than it sounds. The hard part is not actually removing items, it’s emotionally detaching with that shirt from 5 years ago that you’ve never actually worn. When I give closet cleanout workshops, I actually have a whole slide for ‘coping with the purge’. If you forgot that you live in a 1st world country– the necessity for that slide is always a nice little reminder.

With that said, here are two methods that will help edit down your wardrobe into a capsule collection.

Starting the Closet Cleanout

Method 1: The Airplane Method

This is the easiest method to attain a capsule wardrobe, but it’s also the most extreme. Here’s what you’re going to do: follow along with me during this scenario. You are going to be visiting another town for about 4 weeks. While you’re in this town, you’ll be working your normal job and doing other daily activities that you usually do. Although the weather is very similar to your home, you have to fly to reach your destination and you are allowed one suitcase (checked) and one carry on. Your carry on is for shoes, accessories, and bags while your suitcase will hold your clothing. What are you going to pack? Now, actually play out that scenario and pack a real suitcase and duffle as if this is really happening. The clothes and accessories that you chose as the ones you ‘can’t live without’ for a month are the only ones really worth keeping (exceptions are made for sentimental items like a wedding dress). Now, take everything that you didn’t pack and put it in a box and close it up. Put the box in a garage or attic or somewhere completely out of sight. Take your new wardrobe for a test run over the next couple weeks. Is there anything you wish you would have kept? Have you completely forgotten what’s in your box after a week or two? Wait a few weeks and then, give the box away. That’s it. You’re done.

If the Airplane Method is too much to handle, your next best option is the Traditional Method.

Method 2: The Traditional Method

With this method you’ll clean out your closet in waves.

Wave 1- Get rid of anything that is damaged. If you haven’t fixed it already you probably never will.

Wave 2- Get ride of everything that doesn’t fit. Spoiler alert: if you lose 10 pounds (like you’ve been meaning to for years…) you are not going to want to put on clothes that are a decade old. You are going to want to walk into a department store and proudly announce that you are looking for size ____ and are ready for a whole new wardrobe. Trust me.

Wave 3- Get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in the past year. If you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it next year. A good way to see what you’ve worn and haven’t worn is to put all your hangers on the rack backwards at the beginning of a season. After you’ve worn an item, return it to its hanger facing the correct direction. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to turn all your hangers so they face out from the wall, but it’s worth it.

Wave 4- Get rid of duplicates. You probably don’t need 4 pairs of black pants that all have the same fit. Narrow it down to 1. An example from my own closet: I had two chambray shirts that were pretty similar. One was from J. Crew and the other was from Old Navy and was starting to wear down. I donated the cheaper one and now I have one nice chambray shirt.

Wave 5- Okay. If you’ve been truthful, you’ve probably whittled things down quite a bit. Here’s the last wave: get rid of anything that you don’t absolutely love. I mean it. If you don’t immediately think when you see an item one of the following: “I love that ______!”, “I love the way this looks on me”, “That’s the best _____ ever”, then get rid of it. Have some high standards people. When you love what you wear, it shows! You are happier, you are nicer, you are more confident. For real. You deserve more than a bunch of meh’s.

 

So, now that you’ve purged…how do you keep your closet that way?? How do you start building the wardrobe you’ve always wanted? Here’s a little picture I made up so you don’t have to look at more black and white writing:

Keeping a Clean Closet

I know what you’re thinking. You have a nice, clean, empty closet. That’s awesome! Except…how is that going to get me to a capsule wardrobe? Hidden somewhere in your mass of clothing you might have had all the perfect pieces to create your own perfect capsule wardrobe. Most likely, however, the harsh editing left your closet looking a little barren. Here’s a couple key pieces of advice to live by as you start buying garments for your capsule wardrobe:
1) Don’t buy it unless you need it (remember the list from above??)
2) Don’t buy it unless it can be paired with multiple, if not almost every other garment, in your closet.
3) Don’t buy it unless it is good quality and will last.
4) Don’t buy it unless you love it.

Here’s the thing; it’s pretty simple. Buy less and buy better. Buy items that you absolutely love and can easily mix and match with everything else in your closet (that you also absolutely love. duh). Fundamentally, that’s what a capsule wardrobe is all about.

Happy Cleaning!!

xoxo- Bucky

Capsule Wardrobes: Will They Work for You?

May 26, 2015

You don’t have to be on Pinterest long to come across the newest thing in fashion: the Capsule Wardrobe. All of a sudden it’s not about how much you have…but how little.

We've all been there: a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear. Sure, we have that handful of staple pieces that we couldn't possibly live without, but the rest of our wardrobes can go untouch...

photo courtesy: http://camillestyles.com/living/life-lessons/how-to-streamline-your-wardrobe/

This method of dressing isn’t entirely new. It’s essentially the ‘secret’ of looking French. It’s also how New Yorkers have been able to look so fashionable while dealing with miniature closet spaces. While the motives for having a smaller wardrobe can vary anywhere from money restrictions to efficiency, a capsule closet can work for almost anyone.

Almost.

Before we really get started here, it’s probably a good idea to define what a capsule wardrobe is. Different people have ‘defined’ it in different ways, but it’s simply a wardrobe that consists of a limited number of pieces. Courtney from Project 333 says that it’s 33 items in your wardrobe not including sleepwear, workout gear, and lingerie. That number does, however, include shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Some minimalism advocates got really excited during their closet purges and practice a 10 item wardrobe. However, most stylists and fashion gurus will say that the number of items (usually between 10 and 40) is less important than finding clothes that are well made and flattering. Which brings me to the whole point of the capsule wardrobe: have less and have better. Instead of having 20 pairs of jeans that kind of fit, you have two pair that are fantastic. Same goes for shirts, skirts, etc. Everything can seamlessly mix and match with everything else and you’ll never be complaining of having ‘nothing to wear’.

For many women, the idea of adopting a capsule wardrobe is much the same as telling your boss how terrible they are and leaving the company in triumph. It sounds fun and exciting in a daring, I-would-love-to-but-I-wouldn’t-actually-do-it sort of way. Like some far off rebellion that you may take part in one day when you feel like it…maybe once you don’t like clothes so much. If the thought of throwing out all of your clothes and accessories is liberating…a capsule wardrobe may be for you. If it’s absolutely terrifying and tear inducing…maybe not.

How to know if a capsule wardrobe will work for you:

1. You wear similar clothes to work as you do for leisure. Is your dress code business casual? Do you find yourself always dressing up on the weekends (just like during the work week?) You would benefit from a capsule wardrobe. If your life takes you totally polar opposite directions- think high profile attorney during the week and gardening/horse riding enthusiast during the weekend…this type of dressing may not work as well for you.

2. You often feel overwhelmed while getting dressed. We’ve all done it at some point or the other. You stand in the entrance of your closet with 15 minutes to get ready and you.have.no.idea.what.to.wear. None. And this happens a lot. If this is you, you definitely need to consider a capsule wardrobe.

3. You’re not in the public eye. If Michelle Obama wore the same 10 items all the time, we’d know it. And while I would think that was cool, I’m not sure anyone else would. The same goes for anyone on TV and any other sector where they get lots of facetime with the public. If you’re not in the public eye (I’m willing to bet that’s most of us) capsule wardrobes are a go.

4. On a scale of 1 (least enthusiastic about fashion) to 10 (most enthusiastic) you rank a 7 or below. To be clear, just because you aren’t super enthusiastic about fashion doesn’t mean that you don’t care about how you look. You simply don’t care about every new trend that surfaces and when fashion week happens you don’t lose sleep at night. Just like a gourmet chef likes to have every specific knife and gadget in his kitchen, a fashionista may like more options than 4o items. Likewise, someone who enjoys cooking, but isn’t a gourmet chef, needs that third oven and 8 burner stove just as much as a 5 on the above scale needs 20 pairs of shoes.

Anyone could have a capsule wardrobe, but it really does work better for some than others. The key is knowing what your lifestyle and habits are and forming a wardrobe that caters to them. Here are several capsule wardrobe examples (links to each blog under the pictures) that I pulled off Pinterest:

My all seasons capsule wardrobe / spring 2015

Try this: take out 10 things from your closet and sell them on Poshmark (or consign them) for $10 a piece. Take that $100 and buy one new, nice item.  https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/lovely-laura-life-11664667/my-all-seasons-capsule-wardrobe-spring-2015-4297315421


Capsule Wardrobe on a budget #capsule wardrobe

This is just one of the many capsule collections I found that had some color. Depending on your level of ability matching patterns and colors- you don’t have to be limited to an oatmeal wardrobe! http://www.style-yourself-confident.com/capsule-wardrobe-on-a-budget.html#.VWUDDmBFCUk


 

How To Create Capsule Wardrobes - very useful when packing for travel

I love how sophisticated this whole palette is. http://en.paperblog.com/how-to-create-capsule-wardrobes-747501/


Project 333 Summer Capsule Collection

Anne tells her story about why she decided to take the 333 challenge (in 3 months consolidate your wardrobe to only 33 items). I love how she does it on a budget and also takes into account crazy weather changes of Massachusetts. Read her story here: http://theproject333.com/project-333-style-stories-anne/

Starting new things is hard. That’s why, later this week, I’ll walk you through the whole closet cleanout process and show you exactly how to start moving towards a capsule collection (and, if you are not a capsule wardrobe type of person- you’ll at least pick up some good tips on cleaning out your closet.)

Until then, what’s your opinion on the capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear!

Ciao!

Bucky

Taking Stock 01

May 18, 2015

The idea of ‘taking stock’ comes from one of my favorite blogs: A Pretty Penny (and she borrowed it from Sydney who borrowed it from Pip). While a lot of people like to take stock at the beginning or end of months, sometimes it’s good to refocus mid month. Here’s what’s happening now:

Making: lots and lots of bathing suits for a special summer fashion show!
Cooking: as little as possible. Hello, bean salad season
Drinking: tea, tea, and more tea
Reading: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. OMG- it’s fabulous
Playing: Mason Jennings Minnesota
Enjoying: waking up to the morning sun
Waiting: for the busy summer to start.
Loving: the humidity during my beach vacay last week

Marveling: at the sunrise. every. morning.
Needing: to start running again
Smelling: the fresh cut peonies in bloom!

Wearing: white jeans. I started wearing them everyday starting in February with oversized grey sweaters and I can’t stop…they go with everything!
Following: the trends- I just got a lob (hair pictures to follow!)
Noticing: the affect of the weather on people’s moods (luckily it’s good!)
Knowing: that I need to get organized (again)
Thinking: about caftans, my unofficial uniform of the summer
Feeling: sad about the closing of Piperlime
Bookmarking: travel websites
Opening: birthday presents and bottles of champagne!!

Cheers!

Bucky

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