Trend section: Romantic Red

While it may seem obvious to showcase red items for the month of February, I have not completely abandoned featuring an actual trend. Red was big for fall and is continuing to be a strong color for spring (yes, spring is slowly arriving into stores). Whether it’s a smart jacket, flirty blouse or funky cowboy boot, red is bold, crisp, and of course, romantic.

Must-Have: Booties

Think boots are just for cold-weather? Booties are the perfect transitional shoe—so don’t even think about putting them away any time soon. 

Everybody’s Wearing... Chamak bracelets

If you think Indian-inspired fashion is hot right now, you are not mistaken. One of my favorite recent discoveries is the amazing Chamak bangle. Designed by Priya Kakkar, a FIT alum and former associate at DKNY and Chanel, the pieces are strongly influenced by the rich and vibrant colors of India. I happen to love the black and white varieties that Vie carries: They look great mixed and piled on, paired with everything from blue jeans to your ball gown (notice Michelle Obama’s stack of sparkly bangles at the Inaugural Ball). After all, ‘chamak’ in Hindi means to shine and sparkle in a glitzy and glamorous way. And at less than $100 each, you can certainly shine without dulling your bank account. 

Line I Love: Paper Crown

Actress Lauren Conrad has been something of a style icon since her days on The Hills. She popularized black nail polish, ombre locks and liquid eyeliner, so to take her trendsetting style to design was a natural choice. After a false start with her eponymous line in 2008, Lauren has now found her stride with her new collection, Paper Crown. About to ship this spring, Paper Crown's designs are a modern take on classic style, with an emphasis on fit and fabric quality to create staples for the contemporary woman's closet. The collection is composed of ultra-romantic maxis, chic cocktail attire, menswear-inspired pieces and tailored basics. The result: an understated elegance that is both effortless and youthful.

Paper Crown available at Cha and Esther


Frye Ballet Flats

When most people think of Frye, they think of the classic rugged boot that has been seen on everyone from factory workers to fashionistas for 150 years. And while boots are still what Frye does best, the brand is not afraid to venture out into other more feminine styles. Its latest addition: the Carson Ballet Flat. Made with buttery soft antiqued leather, this flat is one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever tried on. Not to mention that the flexibility of the shoe with its subtle stitching and curvy top line looks great on the foot. And I’m loving these new bright colors in slick patent leather. Looks like another flat is being added to the collection…don’t mind if I do!

MADE in the deep south

Funny ‘small world’ story: While I was in Seaside, Fla., over the holidays perusing the local shops, I stopped at an armoire showcasing the funkiest jeweled leather cuffs. I snapped a picture with my iPhone so I would remember to research them for my column. Lo and behold, three weeks later, I’m at Giddy Up Jane pulling a few things for this page when I look down and see the same cuffs! Owner Jane proceeds to explain to me the story of the cuffs (all vintage one-of-a-kind pieces collected from all over the world, and mixed with other pieces and materials to make each unique leather cuff), and that the designer used to live here in St. Louis. Needless to say, I’m a fan of these treasures that mix old and new. And I love that no two are alike. Best of all? You are supporting (two!) local boutiques carrying an (ex-local) designer.

Shop Worth a Stop

Ditto —10027 Manchester Rd., 394-2026,, Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

‘A shopping experience worth repeating,’ is the motto for Ditto, the boutique reseller in the Warson Woods area. “We focus on keeping things fresh and creating a pleasing shopping environment,” says Jessica Jarvis, the shop’s general manager. The boutique has more than only the designer label clothes and outerwear for women, teens, children and men. Some charming desks, tables, wine racks and bookshelves also are available at the 11,000-square-foot location. As a special service, Ditto will contact customers when their desired item arrives in the store. And 90 percent of the shop’s revenue goes toward a tuition remission program, with the remaining profits benefiting the neighboring community.

By Michael de los Reyes

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