Nothing like some pretty things to take your mind off sadness, right? IKEA is kind of killing it this year with their new lines. And I love the dark/moody + shiny art direction. 

I'm not a big fan of talking about the holidays this early in the year -- in fact, it kind of enrages me. But I would like to paint a thing black and then throw a bunch of shiny stuff all around it, right this second. 

Hey, sexy lights. Come over to my house and we'll have a dimmer party. Hee. "Dimmer party."

I always find myself getting way into plaid in the fall/winter months. It's just so cozy. And that wallpaper! GIVE IT TO ME.

I will have this chair, and I will sit in it, and I will feel like some sort of Scandinavian style celebrity. The end.

PS. Thank you all so much for your sweet comments, emails, and carrier pigeons. They all made me cry, in the good way. xoxo.

AuthorAB Chao
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1. Aiden Modern Vintage Turquoise Ring / 2. Jennie Kwon Black Equilibrium Cuff Ring / 3. Jules Smith Zoe Bracelet / 4. Sorel Caribou Boots / 5. Tuareg Fleece Jacket + Scarf / 6. Zara Funnel Collar Dress / 7. Madewell Linen Baseball Tee / 8. Benjo's Cousin Traci Boot Laces / 9. She Makes Hats Simple Slouch Hat / 10. Emerson Fry Trainer / 11. Joe's Jeans Rolled Skinny Ankle / 12. Kowtown Seattle Black Pant / 13. Eyefly Abbey Road / 14. By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Care / 15. Deborah Lippmann Dark Side of the Moon / 16. Leonor Greyl Eclat Naturel Styling Cream / 17. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish / 18. Madewell Western Jean Shirt  / 19. H&M Knee Socks  / 20. CloudberryFactory Knitted Wool Socks


And now, presenting this year's Fall Uniform. It's a little different than the Elegant Cowgirl of past seasons. I'm going a little more monochromatic, a little more edgy, a little more... COLD. I'm really into the slouchy-pantsed, layered look that's happening. Also: short dresses, tights, wool socks, and boots. Because now I live in Canadia.

Vince Paper Leather Scuba Jacket

I am also yearning for a leather jacket. Here is my money-is-no-object pick. If you are my rich uncle, please get in touch. I'd also take this one. It's on "sale."

AuthorAB Chao
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I'm going to need you to send me all of these. Thanks!

I really, really want those navy tights for the holidays. They would be so good with a little shift dress and some sparkly shoes. Also, I'll take the orange ones. And the legs on the model. Find them here: 1 / 2 / 3.

AuthorAB Chao


Y'all, I am really into tassels and poofy accessories right now. If I could have an entire dress made of the tassels on that bracelet, I would wear it EVERY DAY. I am pretty sure this is all Mrs. Lilien's fault -- her love for the tassel is known far and wide.

Anyway, please enjoy these five accessories that I am endeavoring to add to my wardrobe for fall. I think they would add a nice punch to the Elegant Cowgirl uniform. (Although my secret goal is obviously to accrue enough poufs to fashion one of these hair concoctions on my own.)

AuthorAB Chao

Today we are going to talk about that funny etiquette rule that demands we not wear white after Labor Day. First of all, what does it even MEAN? I have never understood it, but I have blindly followed it all my life. Let's go to the books.

The no-white rule after Labor Day originates from Victorian times when wearing white was as much a status symbol for the middle and upper classes during the summer, as not wearing white was the status nuance after Labor Day. The fashion nuance was that if you didn't know the rule, you weren't fashionable. 

Huh. Well, that makes a kind of sense. Sort of. HOWEVER, my home state is Louisiana, and although we are sticklers for the many, many rules of etiquette (I can tell you about ALL of the forks), it is so hot here that we consider anything under 80 degrees "a cold snap." Wearing white just makes the weather seem cooler, doesn't it? (If there is some scientific explanation for why black is better, I don't want to hear it.) And, as y'all might have noticed, white is also basically my signature color.

So I hereby declare the no-white rule dead to me. I encourage you to break this silly rule as well, and guess what else? Tide would also like you to break it by entering their Tide VIVID White + Bright Rule Breakers of the Week Contest. The contest? Upload a photo of yourself breaking the rules of wearing white. The prize? Oh, no big deal, just a $3000 shopping spree. No White After Labor Day Rule, you are OVER!

I am really going to enjoy breaking this rule, especially since I own more white clothing than a person probably should. Please regard:

Fall bike rides are my favorite thing ever. It's actually too hot between April and right around now, early September, to ride a bike. But, check it: yesterday the temperature topped out around 90. A breezy 90.

This is what fall in Louisiana looks like: crocheted shorts and a sleeveless top. Five degrees colder and I would have on a jacket and scarf.

The great thing about these shorts is that even though they're white, they are texture-y enough for fall. They will also work in December with tights and boots. And I shall wear them then in that manner.

Flowy tank c/o Maggie Mason, who just showcased a vintage white dress that is also about to get stolen. Shorts: Urban Outfitters. Shoes: Tsubo.

Do you like this dress? I do. And I have actually broken two rules with it: not only is it white, it is also a skirt. Oops.

The thing is, I am five feet tall, and the skirt is four feet tall, and I loved its interesting bottom, so it is now a dress. How perfect is it, with a light scarf, for an autumn wine tasting? Pretty perfect.

Yeah, we're tasting white wine. It is hot, OKAY? 

Sparkly shoes go very well with white skirts-turned-dresses.

Make no mistake: I wish we had cool enough weather to drink heavy red wines and make chili and gumbo, but those days are months away. So in the interim I'll be tasting white wine and wearing a white dress while doing it. PS, there needs to be a way to have gumbo cold, like gazpacho. Gumbspacho: somebody get on that.

Dress/skirt: Banana Republic. Wrap: J. Crew. Shoes: Kate Spade. Sparkly bag: Headscarf: Vera.

A thing that Southerners like a lot is the watching of football games. (We are the home of LSU and the Saints: Geaux Tigers, Who Dat, etc.) Some of us like to watch those games outside. And some of us don't have enormous flat-screen TVs in our custom-built patio areas, so we make do. And some of us enjoy making do in our white fashion sweats and silver metallic high-top sneakers.

Fashion sweats: They are a real thing.

Here I am contemplating which part of this is funnier: The fact that the TV doesn't actually work, or the fact that I ate two entire bags of popcorn during this shoot.


Breaking the rules, drinking a beer, living the dream. Now, will you be wearing white after Labor Day? Clearly.

Top: Emerson Fry. Fashion sweats: Rue 21. Neon socks: J. Crew. Necklace: Kate Spade. Shoes: Pour la Victoire.


A super-special thanks to the sponsors of this post: Tide VIVID White + Bright. Now go enter that contest, you rule-breakers!

All photos: Ben Corda

AuthorAB Chao
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Last year I did a roundup of items that I either already owned -- or wanted to own -- that make up my fall uniform. Here's what I said about this matter:

I get very excited about fall, because it means I get to add on to my uniform. One of my many shopping theories is that you should always have some go-to outfit -- a uniform, if you will -- that consists of basics you can add to or subtract from, depending on the season.

(Other shopping theories include "try to look French," "you can't go wrong with a sundress and flops," and "if you look like you just exercised, that's kind of hot.")

My fall uniform theory very much falls into what my friend Al calls "Elegant Cowgirl." It's a dress theory that affects thousands of Southern ladies every year, and only you can stop it. Wait. I mean, only you can admire it, and try to emulate it, because it's AWESOME. Here's my interpretation.

This year's fall uniform contains many of the same items: the white tee, jeans, cowboy-ish belt, boots, and lipstick are still there. Unsurprisingly, it's all still very Elegant Cowgirl. I've added/changed a few things, most notably a COAT, something I have never needed before. Very exciting. Let's go to the tape!

1. White tee. Same as last year, except I've added one with long sleeves. (James Perse)

2. Last year I had a herringbone blazer on here, which I bought and, sadly, never wore. It did something bad to my shoulders. However, I have many vests I've known and loved, and they have all come from J. Crew, so I am going to try a herringbone VEST this time. We'll see what happens. Please try not to be so much on the edge of your seat.

3. This is my new favorite polish. Like some of you, I have a bad case of neon fatigue, even though I still theoretically love it. This color is still way neon, but it's a little more red/orange than pink, which I find to be a welcome change. Go get some! You won't regret it.

4. A darker red lipstick is replacing last year's pink (Nars Funny Face, still beloved and worn often). I hear dark red is SO IN this year. This one, like Funny Face, appears to be universally flattering.

5. What, another Giles & Brother bracelet? Look, it's on my extended wish list. I tell my design campers to save up for one thing on their wish lists each year, and in five years they will have five awesome things. Well, in five years I will have five awesome G&B bracelets. BAM.

6. It breaks my heart to say this, but I lost my No. 6 boots in the back of a rental car last year. It still makes me sick to think about. Anyway, one day I will replace them -- like when they by some miracle have a coupon -- but this year I am going to try these Frye Engineer Harness boots. Also on my extended wish list, and I am hoping I love them just as much as everyone says I will.

7. Hey, cute scarf. You are sold out. Stop that right now.

8. Same belt as last year. Still going strong!

9. I can't remember the last time I bought a coat. Wait, yes I do -- Banana Republic, 2001. We don't really need them here. HOWEVER! I am traveling to some pretty cold places this fall/winter (see: Chicago, December), so I need to have one. This one is from Delia's, and it is a great color/fit for not a lot of $$$. I don't need to be splashing out on something I'll use just a few times, right?

10. Jeans! These are the Skinny Skinny Ankle jeans from Madewell, a jean that has become number one in my heart since they 1) fit awesomely, and 2) do not have to be hemmed. Hallelujah! Shorties of the world, I urge you to try these. You will salute me from the dressing room.

So that's it for me this year. I also stocked up on tees from Emerson Fry, so I should be good until the new year, at least.

What's on y'all's fall uniform wish list? Tell me, so I can want it too.

AuthorAB Chao
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I get very excited about fall, because it means I get to add on to my uniform. One of my many shopping theories is that you should always have some go-to outfit -- a uniform, if you will -- that consists of basics you can add to or subtract from, depending on the season.

(Other shopping theories include "try to look French," "you can't go wrong with a sundress and flops," and "if you look like you just exercised, that's kind of hot.")

My fall uniform theory very much falls into what my friend Al calls "Elegant Cowgirl." It's a dress theory that affects thousands of Southern ladies every year, and only you can stop it. Wait. I mean, only you can admire it, and try to emulate it, because it's AWESOME. Here's my interpretation.

New additions to the uniform are noted in the list below. I already own five of the eight things pictured here, but I am really excited to add the new things in when the weather changes.

1. White t-shirt. It is imperative that every Elegant Cowgirl own one, or two, or twelve of these. I have spoken of this before.

2. Bright lipstick. Look, it's fall. Fall is dreary. You are going to need something to punch up that wan face of yours. That and some good self-tanner.

3. I wear my tooled leather belt with everything, from jeans and shorts to cute little dresses. I am not ashamed to say that I found mine at Abercrombie & Fitch about 10 years ago. This one comes from a place called As one's belt does. Anyway, if you don't have one, you are missing an integral part of your Elegant Cowgirl look. Please rectify this immediately.

4. This bracelet will be mine this year. I've been wanting it since I discovered Giles & Brother, which was a long time ago, but I've never sprung for it. Fall 2011 is my time, y'all!

5. I'm heading into my third season with these No. 6 boots, and they show no sign of a) looking in any way worn or b) looking in any way less stylish. They are also the most comfortable boots I've ever owned. Yes, yes, they cost $$$. I don't want to hear it. If I amortized the price yearly, I think I'd be at just around 40 cents per wear.*

6. A striped scarf always improves the picture. Especially in Louisiana, where we wear tank tops and jeans until Christmas. We can at least pretend to be seasonal this way.

7. This one will be my big purchase for fall. I have many jackets and blazers, but none seem as versatile, or as well-made, as this one from EmersonMade. Wear it with jeans! With shorts! A skirt! A dress! A tennis uniform! Et cetera!

8. Bootcut jeans. Learn them, live them, love them. And no matter what your trendy 16-year-old daughter says, they'll never go out of style or look bad with your boots. I prefer Madewell. The end.

So there you go. My fall uniform and exciting new additions. Enjoy, and I can't wait to hear about your own new fall purchases.

*Amortization Rationalization: A condition marked by excessive spending on one item, during which the spender convinces herself that she will wear said item at least one thousand times, thus rationalizing her purchase. May hit each fall and spring shopping season.

AuthorAB Chao
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