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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dobbin Q&A: Style Expert Bridgette Raes

If you're not yet familiar with stylist/writer/author/blogger Bridgette Raes, we recommend you do yourself (and your wardrobe) a favor and add her site to your bookmarks. Bridgette dispenses expert style advice in a way that's accessible, practical, empowering, and fun to read. We were lucky enough to interview her about the personal styling process, building the perfect work wardrobe, and - of course - why she loves Dobbin. 

How did you get started doing personal styling?
Well that is a bit of a story.  Originally, I was a fashion designer for about ten years after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology.  While I had wanted to be a designer since I was nine years old, after a few years into my profession my father passed away at 46 years old and I really started to look at life differently.  I wanted to do something that felt like I was making more of a difference, particularly with women.  For years I didn't know what that was and I stuck with my career until I just finally had it.  Originally, my plan was to start my style consulting business as a transition until I figured out what my "difference making career" would be.  However, after meeting with my first client, I received an email from her telling me how our appointment had changed her life and that she felt like who she was on the inside was finally expressed on the outside.  It was in that moment that I realized I had found exactly what I was looking for. 

Bridgette in our Sylvie dress
What's your favorite aspect of the personal styling process? (In other words, what do you love most about your job?)
There are so many things I love.  However, what never gets old is seeing women transform and accomplish more in their lives as a result of working with me.  It's very humbling and a true honor.  In addition to that, I like being my own boss, setting my own schedule and that I got to take everything I loved about being a designer with me and leave the parts I didn't enjoy behind.  I can't say that my choice to start my own business has been the easiest journey however it has been the most fulfilling.

Your fabulous book focused on accepting the body you have and learning to dress it to create "the body you want." How can women better understand their body type and the silhouettes that work best for them?
Writing my book was such a labor of love because I used actual clients and friends as the models and had to study each one of their bodies closely when choosing them for the book.  I actually created a spreadsheet with all of their body pros and cons.  What I realized is that not one of them had the same exact body proportions and that we're all built differently.  Here we are all trying to be one body shape and not one of us is built exactly the same. Working on this book and also working with clients I also learned that the biggest mistake most women make is they hone in on their body flaws without looking at their bodies as a whole.  When I look at a woman's body I think about what I can do to her shoulders to minimize her large hips, or how shaping the waist will make her bust look smaller.  

Stunning in our Sophie blouse and Natalie stretch ponte skirt!
Is there any universally flattering garment or silhouette that truly works for all body shapes?
I really don't think there is, but I do think there are variations of commonly worn garments that can.  For example, to say a cardigan is a universally flattering item wouldn't be true.  However, I do think there cardigans out there for every body shape.  

What's the most common fashion mistake you see women making? Any memorable fashion mistakes from your past you'd like to confess?
Well, fashion nightmares aside, because they're just lost causes, I think the most common fashion mistakes women make is they don't see their outfits through.  My brain is always on and I am always making people over in my head.  Most women don't look bad in what they are wearing, they just look unfinished.  The number one request I get from clients is how to look more polished and not just like another nobody in the crowd.  

As far as my fashion mistakes go.  Mine was more of a beauty mistake.  I wore blue eyeshadow in the 80's which looked terrible.  I have blue eyes and my mom, who has hazel eyes, told me that was what I should do.  So, essentially, it's her fault, and I have never let her off the hook for that!

Building a work wardrobe that's professional, flattering, easy to wear, and feels true to someone's personal style is a daunting task indeed. Any advice for creating a work wardrobe that, well, works?
It is a daunting task, you're right, and it's why I am in business.  Gosh, there are so many missteps I see that can be easily corrected.  The few nuggets of advice I can offer are to: 

1. Create multiple look using one piece.  A working woman's wardrobe is usually pretty basics driven.  What most women fail to see is how much more they could get with less if they took the time to rework their outfits with different accessories and color combinations.  I always style my clients' pieces 3-5 different ways to give them multiple options.
2. Stop with all the black.  As you know, I don't wear black.  I don't think everyone should give up the color completely, but I really wish women would stop assuming it is the be all, end all of color.  And if you are going to rely on black for your work wardrobe, at least do something with it to make it more interesting.  
3. Spend at least 25% of your wardrobe budget on accessories.  I know I sound like a broken record about the accessorizing thing, but it truly is the single biggest issue I see in women's wardrobes.  I hear women tell me they are bored and then tell me they wear the same pearl earrings and pendant necklace everyday.  I look at getting dressed like a 3 part equation- you have the base (your tailored pieces), the accent (which are the softer, trendier clothing items, like tops) and then the pop, which are your accessories.  Did you know that I call unaccessorized outfits "chicken outfits"?   

What are your thoughts on incorporating trends vs. staying true to classic pieces? Do you tend to favor trendier looks or timeless ones? Any tips on mixing the two?
I definitely tend towards the classics.  Trends are typically added through my accessories.  I think this is what most women strive for.  Usually women tell me they want a classic look with a twist.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that you'd be interviewing me from my yacht.  If you want a good mix of classic and trendy, go for more timeless base pieces and throw in trendier accessories, pops of color and accents that are unique.  

Dobbin's Sylvie dress can take you from work to cocktails to commute in comfort and style.
Who are you personal style icons and why do you admire them?
I have an odd mix of icons.   For starters, I love all the Hitchcock women.  Edith Head did such an amazing job with the costuming in those movies.  You look at the films now and the clothes are still gorgeous.  I think my personal style is a bit more edgy and quirky than the women in Hitchcock's films, but I do gravitate towards clothes that is just stunning to look at, expertly designed and thoughtful.  

However, I also have icons I admire not because I want to dress like them but because I think they dress in a way that is true to who they are.   Take someone like Helena Bonham Carter.  I only look like her when I am hanging around my apartment (at least according to my husband), but in real life, no way!  Yet as wacky and outrageous as her style is, it is who she is and she owns that.  I think we should all strive to be that clear and comfortable with our style.  

And finally...we have to ask: what's your favorite dress from our current collection? 
From the current collection, I  really love the Sylvie dress in burgundy.  The color is great and it is super comfortable.  Well, all of your clothes are.  I lived in my Sydney dress all summer.  In fact, funny story about that dress -- I wore it to speak down in Washington DC last summer and had to rush out to grab the Acela back to NYC after I was done.  Normally I like to change into comfortable clothes to travel, but didn't have time.  I wore my Dobbin dress on the train for nearly four hours and I was shocked by how incredibly comfortable I was commuting in it for that long.  Dobbin's clothes look tailored and structured on the outside when in actuality they feel like comfy knits.  The best of both worlds!

Thanks so much, Bridgette! Be sure to check out Bridgette's website and book for more of her sage style advice. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

One Dress, Two Holiday Party Looks: The Brigitte

Dobbin dresses are famously versatile. Our clothes are designed to take you from work to happy hour to a fabulous party with style, comfort, and ease. What better time to showcase the many styling options for a Dobbin dress than the season of countless holiday parties? We chose one of our favorite dresses of the moment, the chic, textured fabric Brigitte, and created two outfits guaranteed to stun at any of the holiday celebrations packed into your December calendar. 

First up, a luxe ensemble perfect for swanky soirees, dinner parties, and other holiday gatherings that call for serious glamour:

Outfit number two is a bit more playful, indulging in the bright colors of the season (hot pink, how we adore you!), and ideal for cocktail parties, open houses, or even New Year's Eve:

So there you have it: one dress, two fabulous holiday party outfits. Which look do you prefer? Do you have a signature look that you like to bring out this time of year? Any favorite ways to accessorize your Dobbin dresses? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

8 Perfect Places To Wear A Little Black Lace Dress

The LBD (little black dress) has long been a "must have" item in every woman's wardrobe, but we think it's time the LBD's cousin, the LBLD, had a turn in the spotlight. What does LBLD stand for? The Little Black Lace Dress, of course, and it's just as timeless and versatile as its classic counterpart. To illustrate this fact, we've assembled a list of 8 varied events and situations that the little black lace dress isn't just appropriate attire, but a perfect choice...

1. Date Nights
Black lace is the epitome of "understatedly sexy," which happens to be the description of the ideal date night outfit.  Next time you're unsure what to wear for a romantic night out, reach for your LBLD. Your date will thank you.
How To Style It: Pair with stiletto heels or ankle boots, a studded clutch, and earrings in a shade that makes your eye color POP.

2. Work 
As long as the cut is modest, black lace is totally acceptable for the office. With a classic cardigan and polished accessories, an LBLD strikes a nice balance of ladylike and professional.
How To Style It: Layer with a light jacket or cardigan, opaque tights, and pumps.

3. Traveling
There's a reason our LBLD was inspired by an evening stroll in Paris - it's as chic and romantic as the City of Light, and a perfect dress to pack for trips to any fashionable destination. Dress it down with an anorak, tights, and boots for daytime exploring; dress it up for candle-lit dinners and dancing.
How To Style It: If you'll be doing lots of walking, opt for high quality ballet flats (heels might look amazing, but they are not worth the blisters), and a retro jacket. Don't forget the red lipstick. Tres chic!

4. Weddings
A great-fitting black lace dress is the universal antidote to "What do I wear?" pre-wedding wardrobe paralysis. It transcends multiple formality levels, won't clash with any combination of wedding colors, and looks great in pictures.
How To Style It: Dress it up with strappy sandals, a metallic clutch, and a pashmina.

5. Cocktail Parties
A lacy dress has been a go-to cocktail party option for decades, and it will continue to be for many decades to come. 
How To Style It: This look is all about bold jewelry - add a statement necklace or chandelier earrings (the more sparkle, the better!), and finish things off with playful pumps or ankle boots.

6. Plays/Musical Performances
Looking for a sophisticated, eternally stylish outfit for a night at the symphony or the theater? Look no further than your LBLD. 
How To Style It: Add heels, tights, and a chic cocoon coat in a bold color like cobalt blue.

7. Dinner Parties
Whether you're hosting or attending, a little black lace dress will elicit countless compliments without putting you in the dreaded "overdressed" category.
How To Style It: Stay comfortable (and stylish!) in simple ballet flats and a cozy wrap sweater that lets the lace neckline peek out.

8. Holiday Open Houses
Searching for a holiday party look that's festive and pretty, not cheesy and costume-y? A black lace dress solves all your holiday wardrobe dilemmas. 
How To Style It: Show your festive flair with playful accessories: Red patent red heels; big, sparkly drop earrings; and a jeweled headband. 

In the market for an LBLD of your own? Check out our Delphine Dress, a gorgeous black lace dress with sheer cap sleeves, a bit of stretch, and the most flattering fit you'll find anywhere. As always, made with love and care with the highest quality fabric, right here in the USA. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

3 Must Haves For Your Fall Work Wardrobe

To us, Fall is the best time of year. The weather is mild and breezy, the leaves are changing, and the crisp air is uniquely energizing, but when it comes to getting dressed for work, this gorgeous seasonal transition can be challenging. If keeping up with changing weather and a slew of new fashion trends is making your head spin, take a peek at our simple guide to an updated fall work wardrobe. Adding just three new pieces to your office outfit mix will make getting ready in the morning - and looking fabulous - as easy as, well, pumpkin pie...

Fall Must Have #1: A Light Jacket

Between chilly temperatures outside and air-conditioned office buildings, a stylish light jacket is a staple you'll reach for again and again this season. The ideal fall jacket should be able to function as a layering piece, worn comfortably on your commute and then either taken off at work or left on all day, depending on temperature fluctuations and what activities are on your schedule for the day. To get the most use out of it, make sure your jacket is light enough to layer under a heavier coat when temperatures really start to drop. Here are two great options from our fall collection:

Our Martine jacket, which is comfortable, flattering, effortlessly stylish, and versatile (wear it inside, outside, over dresses, under coats - the possibilities are endless!). 

And our Alix jacket, which combines the comfort of a sweater (it's made of knit boucle and trimmed with stretch ponte) with the professional polish and fashion-forward style of a high-end designer jacket. It's the perfect layering piece that will bring your whole work wardrobe together. 

Fall Must Have #2: A Great Pair Of Pants

It's time to pack up the paper-thin slacks of summer and move on to weightier fabrics and more seasonally appropriate textures. We are crazy about the Stanton Slim Pants in black stretch corduroy because they can easily take you from work to errands to holiday parties in comfort and style:

Made of luxe Italian stretch corduroy, which has a velvet-like sheen, these pants are subtly festive and perfect for the season, but also surprisingly versatile. Wear with a tucked-in white tunic, belt, and pumps for a clean, modern workday look, or try a printed blouse to add some color and interest to your outfit. Either way, we guarantee you'll stay comfortable all day, thanks to the stretch fabric and our signature back elastic adjustable waistband. 

Fall Must Have #3: A Sleeveless Dress

In fall and winter, a sleeveless sheath is actually your most versatile option. You can take it from day to night easily, change up the look with different cardigans, wraps and jackets, and of course with accessories.  Sleeved dresses are great, but when you pair them with a cardigan, blazer, or light jacket, the fabric tends to bunch up. A sleeveless dress ensures your layers lay smoothly and don't add any extra bulk. Stay tuned for more tips on layering sleeveless dresses, but for now, let's gaze at our favorite sleeveless dress of the season, the Gabriella:

Available in either crimson or black, with an asymmetrical neckline that's flattering and unique, this dress will be a wardrobe staple from the day it arrives on your doorstep. Designed to be fitted but not tight, the Italian ponte fabric creates a sleek shape on any body type, perfect for the office, and easy to dress up for post-work parties and happy hours.

With these three pieces, you'll be able to assemble countless outfits that are comfortable, stylish, and office-appropriate. Fall is the perfect time to give your work wardrobe a promotion. And hey, according to that classic piece of advice about dressing for the job you want, who's to say a real promotion won't follow?

Monday, October 20, 2014

7 "Old School" Fashion Tips For Modern Women

Here at Dobbin, we often talk about doing things the "old school" way when it comes to fit, quality, craftsmanship, and customer service. As the global garment industry has evolved toward cookie-cutter design and faster and faster production schedules, standards have been lowered, quality has been forgotten and, sadly, much of the magic of the fashion world has been lost. We're working every day to bring some of that magic back, and you can help. Here are 7 ways modern women can infuse some "old school" sensibility into their shopping habits, wardrobes, and personal style.

1. Invest in quality. Past generations knew that quality clothing was a worthy investment, so they spent more money on each piece, and bought fewer items overall. These days, we've become accustomed to buying many, many more garments of much lower quality. It's time we stop settling for cheap, shoddily made clothing. Nothing beats the feeling of saving up for an amazing, high quality garment you will wear for years to come.

2. Educate yourself about clothing. You don't have to get a degree in fashion design to be a more educated consumer. A simple way to start is just by noticing how different fabrics feel against your skin, how different seams flatter your body, how long certain pieces of clothing tend to last. Take a look at the construction of a well-made garment that you've owned for years, and compare it to a cheaper, low quality garment from a fast fashion store. Once you train yourself to spot these differences, you'll be able to quickly identify quality garments and make better choices whenever you go shopping!

3. Prioritize great fit. Have you noticed how many modern day trends include flowy, shapeless garments, often in flimsy fabrics? As comfortable as this type of clothing might be, it's not particularly flattering and it rarely lasts more than a month or two. If you want to add a dose of vintage polish to your look, treat yourself to clothing that actually fits. Look for pieces with thicker fabrics and more structure, clothes that are designed to fit and flatter a woman's body rather than swallow it whole.

4. Befriend your tailor. Speaking of fit, the best way to ensure a truly perfect fit is to have your clothing tailored. Tailoring and alterations used to be a given - clothing wasn't brought home directly from the store, it was taken straight to the tailor! - and the difference between an off-the-rack garment and a tailored garment is often worthy of a double take. Here at Dobbin, we design our clothes to fit beautifully right off the rack (or out of the box, to be more specific), but we also keep tailoring in mind when constructing our garments, making them easy to alter as desired.
5. Take good care of your clothes. Over the past decade or so, consumers have been trained to view clothing as a disposable resource. After all, when you pay $5 for a t-shirt, you don't really expect it to last, and you know you can always go out and buy a few more to replace it. But back in the day, clothing was valued and cared for with the respect it deserved. Keep this in mind as you launder your clothes, wear them, and store them. Treat them like beautiful investment pieces, because they are!

6. Repair instead of throwing away. Even when you take great care of your clothes, after awhile, wear and tear can take a toll. When a button falls off or a small rip appears, don't toss that dress in the garbage! Repair it yourself or take it to that aforementioned tailor of yours (this is why you befriended her, remember?) and have it fixed up. Getting in the habit of repairing clothing instead of tossing it is good for your wallet and good for the earth - textile waste is a growing problem in landfills. Turns out our grandmothers were right: a needle and thread can save the world.

7. Buy American-made. As little as 20 years ago, "made in USA" clothing tags far outnumbered "made in China" labels. The United States garment industry was once a thriving system that employed thousands of people and manufactured high quality clothing. Alas, thanks to changing trade agreements and the rise of fast fashion, now the vast majority of clothing on American store shelves is imported (and usually cheaply made). Companies like Dobbin are committed to manufacturing their clothing in the USA, and you can show your support by buying American-made garments whenever possible.

So there you have it. From looking fabulous to helping the environment and the economy, there are tons of reasons to do things the "old school" way, at least when it comes to clothing. We'll be keeping it old school here at Dobbin. Won't you join us?

Friday, October 17, 2014

The List

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And just in case you missed it, be sure to read all about our new fall collection. Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to a gorgeous new dress, don't you think?

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