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Who Killed Color…

22 Feb

…I have a very good guess! As I alluded to the last time, I recently made a move back to Ghana after a very long while.  And for the very first time I have been introduced to ‘Corporate Ghana’. Its quite inevitable but with any move comes an amount of change; good or bad…there is always the management of expectations and either sucking up to your new ‘normal’ or throwing in the towel and heading for the hills! I’m not the one to quit and admit defeat, however when my style is under siege, I’m just not a happy camper!  Now with all the change going on around me: the power outages, the heat, the traffic – one would think a girl would have had her fair share of frustrations, and I definitely have! However, the most frustrating of all is the so-called “Corporate” look everyone is trying to assimilate. Only in these parts does ‘Corporate’ exclude color! Yeah maybe in the 1960s the corporate woman in the West was seen as one block of drab monotone hue but not anymore!!!!!

The modern corporate woman understands color: how to make it work for her, just the right amount not to be too overbearing and feels confident in it. Stuffy black and browns are substituted with cobalt and reds! The options on the color wheel are endless; however we limit ourselves to only three colors – black, brown and grey – the basics. My curiosity got the better of me and so I just had to ask the million dollar question: why? Trust me, the reasoning was even more perplexing and definitely deserved my eye roll and snort! Here goes, “Color makes you look less serious!” On which planet???? Obviously here on Earth, the corporate woman in stuffy all black is more serious than the one in a cobalt colored jacket matched with black and white checked pants, regardless of personality or work ethic! Sheesh, than unfortunately the woman department stores in the West are definitely propagating a message lacking seriousness to the career women out there!!! Beware…a mustard shirt tells your insecurities as a business executive and oh goodness forbid an orange shirt – you might as well be doing the Azonto on the board room table with your colleagues looking on in disgust!!!!!

In all seriousness (I am clad in black and grey today to reflect how serious I am); it’s a maturity level that is lacking in the workplace today. A fashion maturity. For a people whose natural disposition is color – our fabrics, our traditions, our lifestyle scream color, it is difficult to understand our obsession with the drab, mundane basic colors. I have always sworn that we are the pioneers of color blocking – its shows in our fabrics, however in our work places the only color blocking you will see is brown on black action (which I definitely frown upon). Somewhere down the line, I would bet a million dollars that in our need to assimilate what the West did, we cultivated a tolerance for drab… but come on even the west has parted ways with drab and now color is where it is at!

I am passionate about this topic because I believe in expressing oneself in all aspect of life; this bred creativity and adds to the wholeness of an individual. What we wear, our style projects confidence which in the long run translates into what we do and are able to accomplish. I am not saying those who do gravitate to more mundane basic colors are lacking in anyway – if that is your style and you wear it well…then power to you. My discomfort comes when fashion creativity is stifled by an out-dated mentality. Gone are the school days when our immature ways where curbed by rules and uniforms. However as a working professional, working executive I really want to believe we have the sense to know what not to wear to a professional setting and what does not jive with our styles for that matter.

Corporate Ghana needs to be open minded and leave at least our sense of dressing and style to us the professional because really if at this age and level we have not deciphered what is appropriate for work and what is not, then quite frankly we need not answer to the classification of ‘professional’. And that right there is the gospel according to AJ!!!!

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Introducing the New and Improved Memoirs….

8 Feb

Hello y’all…it’s a new year and I’m going out with a bang! I have made a huge leap into the unknown so a little familiar territory is what the doctor ordered! To celebrate a new year and new location, I present to you a new blog: Memoirs of a Closet Freak!

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The Memoirs blog is of course inspired by the Memoirs section I started here as such it follows the same concept; it documents my daily affair with fashion. The difference: a whole new look and feel and of course its a blog in itself and setting is in my new location! A move must not affect my style in the least…so we are pressing my fashionistas!!!! Thank you for the support  and I hope you stay on with me throughout my new journey. Subscribers please do subscribe to Memoirs as well if its not too much trouble. However Hot off the Runway will still remain a spot for general fashion updates and the likes. Once again thank you for the support and remember keep fashion alive. Toodles…until later…

Check out Memoirs of a Closet Freak

Memoirs of a Closet Freak -The Color Edition : Color Transcends Age!

6 Oct

A little suggestion goes a very long way… and so when I was challenged to style someone else other than myself, although a bit intimidating, I was opened to rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty! And I had the best candidate…as they say the apple does not fall too far from the tree as such it was a no brainer when I decided to use mummy dearest as my fashion experiment. After a little kicking and screaming….and a lot of pleading, (on both sides), she reluctantly conceded! A quick shout out to DSA for being a good sport and playing along! DSA… you rock!

This is to show color does indeed transcends age! Color is a universal tool …

First illustration below has Mummy dearest looking demure and sophisticated in her royal blue slim leg pants (The Gap) coupled with her chic cream blouse with black trimmings. This look is ideal for work or a night out on the town for some drinks with her man in waiting. Two thumbs up approval from Dad! This look spells elegance and classy!

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Birthday parties are fun but they can be off the wall if you are dressed for the occasion. Here mummy dearest decides to have her polka dots with a hint of yellow. The full, flowy polka dot top is well matched with tapered yellow jeans. Remember its always best to match a flowy top with a more tapered bottom. She may not be the birthday girl, but she will definitely be the focus of attention!

A red jacket can do wonders to a simple black and white outfit. This is a great number for work but again could double up as an ensemble fit for dinner out with friends. The red jacket allows for work in the board room as well as play in the streets!

Looking to colorize your closet? Well blue and pink make a wonderful duet in this ensemble that mummy dearest wears to a ‘T’! This ensemble could incite watercooler chatter as well as nods of approval at a dinner party. The comfortable pink/fuschia pants (New York & Company) not only looks good to the eye but also feels divine on the skin; contributing to a look of confidence and grace!

A power suit does not have to be black or grey anymore!!!! Throw in some color – two or three would be ideal and you are sure to dazzle your viewing public. If anyone said color was for kids…they sure led you astray…

Whether you are 5, 25 or 75, make color your friend this season. Not much of a fan of the phrase “One size fits all” but in the world of color I am a believer that all color does fit all! Stay tuned next time as we find out how you spent your summer in color!

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – The Color Edition: Color your stride

22 Sep

So apparently the summer is officially at its end but I think I can relish the little that’s left by reminiscing some key summer favorites. A summer favorite worth writing home about… colored pants! Did you guys get pulled into the color frenzy? Well I did…great contenders for my color blocking obssession. Still got a couple more colors to personalize, nevertheless, I did my share of colorizing my closet and here are some colorful strides I made during the summer:

White pants/ jeans made a fierce comeback this summer or should I say it never went away. The classic white pant is always a summer must have and this summer the more tapered, skinnier cut made the headlines. The white pant provided a perfect balancing effect for the popular color duo: evergreen blouse (Ann Taylor) and navy blue blazer (H&M). A patterned scarf with similar hue as a belt pulled the total ensemble together:

A color blocking favorite: the yellow and pink combination embodies the essence of a colorful summer.The bright colors play off each other giving a well matched duo effect:

Revisiting my adoration of greens and yellows. The dark elements of the green provides a solid background that enhances the brightness of the yellow. Yellow is definitely a favorite color contender for the summer and so yellow pants (The Gap) was a no brainer for me:

Pink found another color companion this summer – royal blue, yet another favorite for the summer. Its commanding elements and solid appeal allows it to be a great complement for most colors. The elegant and calming nature of royal blue made it the “it” color this summer:

Yet another example of how a royal blue can transform a basic black and white combination into an ensemble worth attention.

Playing with stripes and solids is always a great way to mix and match colors and patterns. Red is bold enough to take the complements of many colors, yellow and green included.

Pink and blue, a match made in color heaven, and this remains true for any shade of blue be it royal, navy or baby. Here’s an example of pink and navy blue:

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So there you have it guys, a little taste of my summer romance with colored pants. Still in the light of revisiting the summer, stay tuned next time as I show you some examples of other people’s interpretation of color blocking.

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – The Color Edition: Multiplicity

14 Aug

A color blocking story for Monday morning’s Board meeting:

Royal blue pencil skirt (Express for Women): check!

Electric red statement ruffle blouse (New York & Company):  check!

Mustard yellow heels (BCBG): check!

Matching mustard thin belt (Zara Woman): check!

 For a more professional and balancing effect:

Black tailored blazer (H&M): check!

… my interpretation of color blocking: (double check!!!)

Moral of the story: Color makes a great productivity tool – Roger that!

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – TGICF (Thank God its Causal Friday)

3 Aug

I guess everyone has their own idea of what ‘Causal Friday’ means; my interpretation of causal Friday would include some boy shorts, tank top, head all scarfed up and some bunny slippers… however my interpretation could never measure up to Corporate standards unless of course I was craving for an HR nightmare!!!

Causal Fridays or Jeans Friday, (whatever works for you) are great opportunities to merge your causal with your professional. It’s really all about a balancing effect; doing casual but not going overboard with it.

Layering, is always a cool option for casual Fridays…a summer jacket, a blazer, a sweater; these could really transform a really causal look of jeans and a tank top into an appropriate business causal ensemble.

Blazer and tank: My tailored navy blue blazer and striped tank top make a great team paired with a pair of jeans

Jeans: It is very important to keep up with the ‘jeans times’ because there are so many cuts and styles and no one wants to be the one who came to a skinny jeans party in bell bottoms! (Awkward!). However, since we are talking office wear, conservative cuts are your best bet. Please DO NOT walk into work with a quarter of your thighs and half a butt peering out of some heavily ripped jeans…(an HR nightmare). Let’s leave that for Friday night lounging or Saturday club hopping! I made lifelong friends with these adorable semi washed designer cut skinny jeans from Express. What I love about these jeans is that they are not that figure hugging type that could probably replace your skin if it had to! They fit just right, for the office, during the day and still make a great companion at night stepping out with the girls!

Accessories: In this case, your accessories are not meant to out stage the outfit but more so compliment it. Once again this was a job for color and this time around I opted for my silk multi-colored scarf with pink trimmings, my hot pink earrings and my patent hot pink pumps from Marshalls.

This look is versatile and the color accent can be changed depending on preference. Below I have on the same outfit however this time around I employ yellow as my color of choice:

Still on the topic of jazzing up my jeans for the corporate world, and no better companion then my orange blazer and matching orange and tan heels (both fine purchases from Zara).

So these summer months, as you look for a way to keep your jeans official, remember – layering is always key and so is keeping true to color!

Memoirs of a Closet Freak: Color Edition – Mellow your Yellow…or Vice Versa

1 Aug

This summer I have developed a new love and appreciation for the color Yellow! It’s bright, it’s festive, it’s fun! A little yellow goes a very long way and no fashion statement is complete without a touch of excitement! Despite its loud nature, yellow can be a great work companion: it’s all about mellowing your yellow, which basically means balancing out your brights with other leveling hues! Just like red, yellows make wonderful complement colors and accent pieces. Here are a couple of my favorite yellow combinations:

Colorize your yellow:

Nothing better to pair my yellow capris (NY&Co) with, then my forest green light sweater (NY&Co). It shows how two bright colors can bounce off each other to give that well suited combination. A solid white shirt is thrown in the mix for balance. My color print heels (Guess) completes the look.

Accessorize your yellow:

Once again my yellow blazer making an appearance as it provides color and functionality to this ensemble of a pair of black and white pattern pants (NY&Co), a crisp white tank top and some red accessories or accent pieces to spice up the look.

Volumize your yellow:

The next ensemble shows how you can emphasize your yellow by making it stand out, and allowing it to play with its felllow earth colors of brown, green and a hint of orange.

Even a yellow dress can play by these rules as well:

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – Color Edition: Realizing Red

26 Jul

This summer, as the temperatures reach a sizzling hot, so is it necessary that your closet packs a little steam and what better color spells fierce with a capital ‘F’ – Red! The color red is that great complimentary color that practically can be matched with almost every other color or pattern. Adding a little spice to ones closet is what the color red does best…and who does not want a little sizzle in their life.

Here are some of my favorite red combos:

Red with solids:

One of my cool steals of the summer is my tapered skinny red pants from H&M. Not only was its price quite yummy ( definitely not a bank smasher) but its cut, back zip and convenient belt holes give it a vintage yet modern feel. This item coupled with my lightweight tunic styled navy blouse with white trimmings (yet another summer steal from T.J. Maxx)and matched with my off white open-toe pumps (Aldo Outlet) gives a preppy sophisticated look ideal for a summer day at the office. 

Red with strips and color:

You need a resounding solid color to pull off a multiple color effect and my next ensemble shows you how red is perfect for the job. This ensemble shows one of red’s many talents – to keep grounded a mixture of colors and patterns. Again my red pants doing what it does best with one of my favorite summer purchases: my yellow blazer – definitely a closet must-have and a black and white striped tank top combined to give an ideal color blocking effect. 

Red with patterns:

Red can definitely hold its own and is never intimidated by patterns and other colors. Although I may have gone a bit soft on the red with a simple pattern like poka dots in the next outfit, just remember red can definitely do stronger so you just bring it! This time around I have sought the versatile appeal of my red pencil skirt (also a very important summer purchase from Express) beneath my flirty black and white poka dot shirt. My red thin belt ties up the ensemble nicely, allowing some emphasis on my waist. The look is corporate ready as well as ideal for some delightful cocktails during happy hour:

Your reds can go a very long way in putting some pizzazz into your closet, its just a matter of realizing red and making it work for you!

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – The Color Edition: Color me African

19 Jul

Howdy folks! I believe a ‘Happy New Year” is way overdue, seeing that I have been lost in transition since the beginning half of the year! But in no way would I let that threaten our relationship. I am back with your favorite summer series – Memoirs of a closet freak and this summer, we mean business… styling business that is! Last summer I set out to share with you some of my styling ideas and influences and this summer is no different; apart from the fact that I would love for you to share your tips as well, so please do send in pictures of your summer outfits and let’s keep each other informed on how to do this fashion thing.

Now to dive right into it; if I was to summarize this summer’s fashion using one word – it would be COLOR! We are in the summer of color; and bright bold hue is the ingredient of choice for most designers. The dull and the drab are taking a hiatus while the more fierce and daring are making fashion statements.  This summer there is enough color to go around, so make sure you get yourself a hearty helping of it! Color blocking is this year’s ‘it’ thing. But don’t get it twisted, it is not just about throwing some random colors together and calling it fab…there is a science to it and today is NOT the day I am going to instruct you on the technique of color blocking because quite frankly I am no expert myself. However I can show you a way I get my colors to play nice and complement each other.

One of my reliable inspirations for color blocking ideas….wait for it….African print! Yup, I said it…African fabrics represent a kaleidoscope of color, shapes and patterns; and in my opinion embodies the essence of color blocking. The makers of African print are visionaries, they have been practicing color blocking since time memorial and the evidence is in the matched vibrant colors used for African fabric. Not only does African fabric exemplify the basic principles of color blocking but also informs the possible colors which could complement each other when putting other pieces together. In current times, color blocking in African garments has become even more pronounced as designers mix and match different pieces (scraps) of African textiles to produce breathtaking garments that are very rich in color and unique in appeal.

This summer I definitely will let African prints work for me – not only will I be showcasing my rich culture but also staying trendy and ‘colorized’. The following selections are some of the pieces that possibly inform my color blocking experiments:

Pinks and yellows are my favorite couples in that together they provide a very summery warmth and feel. Great color combination for a color blocking effect! Throw in a little orange and you are well on your way.

The color multiplicity of this dress gives one various options to style and many colors to highlight. This garment shows how blues, oranges, yellows, greens and brown can actually play nice. This is an example of the use of various scraps to create a work of art.

Now who would have thought green would do such a nice number with purple! The evidence is in the details!

So there you have it, Color blocking tip #1:

Let your African prints be the muse for your color blocking experiment!

(Dresses provided by Aj’Bea Kouture, a subsidiary of Kradle Kouture Inc, kids wear. Eager to get your paws on some of these lovely dresses… be sure to hit me up and we can make it happen!)

Stay tuned for more tid bits on color for the summer….

Memoirs of a Closet Freak – Going half on a baby…

16 Dec

Hey y’all! So I have been in hiatus for a minute…I had a whole winter-fall line up for you until fate threw a wrench in my plans. Uncontrollable circumstances, or so they call it but a good one at that! It seems my figure is being threatened by the demands of motherhood again! Seeing that Fall is my favorite fashion season, I broke out in a brief panic because I realized that this development could have the potential to stump my personal expression of style. Just as fast as that fleeting thought came to me so did it dissipate! Lesson learnt – ones style should never be compromised…despite the situation or circumstance. I mean its your style so why should a couple of extra baby fat redefine what is yours. So my ‘midnight cravings’ were matched with my unwavering love for boots, jackets, scarves, gloves and other Fall goodies. My mission: simple – to accommodate my baby bump in a very fashionable way. There was no way I was going to let my temporary growing girth dictate my style and have me fall victim to unflattering maternity attire. Nine months was too long a time to put my style on hold!

To commence my ‘baby bump watch’, my style of choice gravitated towards leggings, tights and sweater dresses – very appropriate for the season at hand. However, already half way through my pregnancy, my love for pants could not be ignored. It was inevitable, I had to deal with my possible fashion nightmare – maternity pants!!!! Yikes! Or so I thought until my visit to my neighborhood Motherhood Maternity store. To my fashionable mothers-to-be…there is hope…and a lot of it! Can you say stylish designer pants, leggings, jeans and wait for it…skinny jeans…yup, I said it …maternity skinny jeans that actually fit even better than normal skinnies! I was like a kid in a candy store. As I literally ran from one end of the store to the other, it just hit me… my panic of a threatened style was so unwarranted. Who said pregnancy was all about comfort and no style! Here you could have both!

So in addition to the surge of hair and nail growth, and the so called ‘pregnancy glow’, I still have my style to rely on!

Here are some of my favorite pant picks so far….

My cheesy grin says it all…these black skinny pants make a wonderful closet companion during the work week and during leisure outings! It’s no surprise this item got a seal of approval from Heidi Klum, the world’s hottest mother! I mean she has had her share of pregnancies so you would only think she knows what she is talking about! With such an endorsement how could you possibly go wrong! More importantly they are affordable and comfortable as hell! Definitely a must have in your maternity collection!

Next item on the block (below) is this uber fitting designer jeans. The thing that tickles my fancy with this item is its fit and length. I can still wear my heels (yes I still wear heels and I’m not ashamed to say it) and it definitely passes the pant length to heel ratio (no high waters or hanging pants in these parts)! Of course I love the dark blue color that makes it appropriate for the day and night time and definitely a perfect contender for work as well.

A girl can never have too many skinnies…still on the hunt for some white ones but in the meantime I will settle for these denim skinnies that allow expectant mummies to also be stylish or better yet join the skinny revolution even during the nine to ten months of incubation.

No baby was harmed or squeezed during this production. All featured pants have a control spandex top that perfectlyaccomodates, covers and holds belly in place, and allows free movement and uttermost comfort for both mother and child.