Monday, November 23, 2009

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: - Frontline

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: - Frontline

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Four perfect cocktail dresses

Erin Keane

Issue date: 11/23/09 Section: Frontline

The Holidays are here again! After that initial tryptophan fix, a rush begins: shopping, decorating, and best of all, parties. Ever since I was a little girl, one of my favorite markers of the season was the purchase of a new Christmas dress. My mom would dress my sister and I in jewel toned taffeta frocks with full slips underneath, garnished by lace bows in our hair and black patent Mary-Janes.

This sense of ceremony failed to escape me as I've grown. I still treat myself, each year, at the Holidays to some sparkly new cocktail attire. After all, decking the halls doesn't have to stop at turning on those twinkle lights.

This year glamor is at its height with velvet, metallic, lace, and sequins in high demand and I've found 4 great cocktail dresses that are contending for my 2009 purchase:

(1) I'm dying for the metallic "Quasar Cocktail Dress" at To truly let it shine, I'm imagining it with black opaque tights and a black ruffled t-strap Mary-Jane. I'd add a little black cardigan for Christmas Eve mass that I can take off for the after-party.

(2) Velvet is one of my favorite things to wear to mixers in December, and I love this open backed dress from Kimchi Blue at Urban Outfitters. There is nothing better than looking sassy chic coming and going, and this dress achieves that while being completely tasteful. Maybe with a metallic tight and black cage heels to toughen up this sweet outfit.

(3) A sucker for romance, lace is one of my favorite things to wear all year round. This lace-trim LBD from Free People is a great investment. Not only for seasonal use, you can wear this baby to nearly any occasion. Such is the way with classic basics. Black dresses are one of my greatest weaknesses because they are a blank canvas for accessorizing.

(4) On New Year's Eve there is nothing more fun than heading out on the town with your friends. Looking glitzy is go-to on this last hoorah before the long haul that is winter in this town. is one of the most fabulous things to happen to my fashion life, and this Silver Sequin Shift Dress by Rare is no exception. This dress with those same black cage heels would be epic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Levres Rouges - Frontline

Levres Rouges - Frontline

City Chic

Erin Keane

Issue date: 11/9/09 Section: Frontline

Whhat's the right shade of lips for this fall?
Media Credit:
Whhat's the right shade of lips for this fall?

When winter rolls around one of the first things you'll notice from the fashion set is the transition from the sheer lip glosses and pink sticks of spring and summer to a darker, richer lip color for day or evening. This season red has returned to its neutral status, and we've traded black gloss (though we loved it, YSL) for a more wearable, yet still noir, purple lip.

For years and years I shirked my Cupid's bow lips, slicking them with a Lancome Juicy Tube once or twice a day regardless of the season, low maintenance was my M.O. I didn't want to have to worry about the constant upkeep of a serious lip color. Then one day, my friend Lisa, ever so chic, appeared in class with a red lip so glamorous, I instantly began having Hepburn like visions of myself rocking the penultimate neutral lip and nail color- RED!

Now, with a 1940's revival in full swing, the red lip has returned to claim its place as queen of the lip colors, in matte or gloss, day or evening a rouged up pucker looks fabulous with jeans and a t-shirt and is perfection with a little black dress.

Some of my favorite (tried and true) rouges are M.A.C's matte lipstick in Russian Red ($14) , Chanel's Coco Red ($28.50) is a slightly pinker, more moisturizing formula, and finally Revlon's Matte lipstick in Really Red ($7.99) will last on your lips forever.

Leaving behind the tough to wear black lips of last winter, fashionistas are opting for an easier purple pout for the approaching colder months. Ranging from close to black colors like M.A.C.'s satin finish lipstick in Cyber to blackberry stains lik Covergirl Outlast lipstain in Sassy Mauve ($7.49). Don't be afraid to sport this strong lip, if you nail the right hue for your coloring, a great purple will enhance the color of your eyes and make your skin appear more luminous. I always say, if you're nervous about trying a new look, just rock it for a day, chances are, most people will end up thinking you're more of a trendsetter than a goth girl.

Also, with wearing bold lip color comes a responsibility to maintain. Don't forget to go for a coordinating liner to keep your lips defined and the stick in place. Trish McEvoy's Essential Pencil in Model's Choice ($22) is my absolute favorite, it goes under everything beautifully and looks great on its own with a little gloss on top.

My mother always told me that a quick and inexpensive way to freshen up your look and your mood was to buy a new lipstick, and I pass that on to you. Defeat the dark days of winter depression and get your fashion fix by adding a little rouge to your daily beauty routine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Chic: A Guide to a Stylish Halloween

Erin Keane

Issue date: 10/26/09 Section: Frontline

Halloween in Chicago is always a wild time of the year, our Mayor's favorite holiday, the city comes out in large to celebrate all things ghoulish. Next Saturday night, the question is not only where will you go, but also, what will you be?

This Halloween, I myself will be dressed, along with several other friends as a pack of zombies. I will be a living dead ballerina, distressed tutu, rotting make-up and all, but never mind my costume, I'm here today to bring you a few fun, creative, and who are we kidding, sassy ideas for disguises this All Hallows Eve.

As Project Runway's 6th season is in full swing and approaching the finale, there is no better costume than Pregnant Heidi Klum, even better if you can get a gay friend to come with you as Tim Gunn. This disguise is simple- find a cute, short black dress a size or two too big so you can stick a throw pillow underneath for your belly. If you aren't a natural blond- find that go-to long blond wig, and slick it back into a low bun- black pumps and some great earrings and you are good to go. Want to make it even cheekier? Get "In" silk screened on the front of the dress, and "Out" on the back- have your Tim Gunn silk screen "Make it Work" to the back of his suit jacket.

Looking for something a little more out there? Take your cues from glam rocker Karen O, front woman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Choose her paper hand feather dress look from this summer's tour in promotion of their new album, It's Blitz, or a brightly colored metallic ensemble with vibrant opaque tights and some wild eighties make-up. Props are important with this one, bring a microphone so you can play the part and pump the mic in true Karen O style.

Finally, if you really want to get wild and crazy, step out this Halloween looking ever so chic and fabulous as only one man can, Karl Lagerfeld. A look so iconic you can easily get it at the thrift store. Buy a big, little boys black suit, white button down, black tie,some silver chains, and black square framed sunglasses. Spray your hair white and bouffant it back into a short ponytail, top it off with your best German smirk and voila, you will have the look of fashion's best-loved couturier.

Wondering where to find the pieces required to create these fabulous costumes? Ragstock at 812 W. Belmont has always been my Halloween go-to. Also, find your local thrift store-Unique Thrifts and Village Thrifts exist in almost every neighborhood in Chicago, scourge these spots for low budget finds that you won't mind using and abusing for one night only.

And with that, I wish you happy (and fashionable) haunting.

Monday, October 26, 2009

You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk, Factory 25's DVD on one of the most subversive movements in Chicago music.

Oft talked about and searched for, the illusive Chicago sound is hard to pin down. Producing bands as audibly diverse as Fall Out Boy and Wilco, a specific genre that our city could be notched into nationally does not exist. So maybe we're too eclectic to have a "Chicago Sound," but we certainly have scenes, and You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk documents the anything goes underground faction of musicians, artists, and journalists circulating The Windy City from 1977-1984.

For any Chi-town centric viewer, this documentary is interesting to watch. Middle-aged former punks talk about the clubs they frequented, the bands they saw, and who was doing what in terms of the evolution of this cutting edge group. A serious and early chunk of the film is dedicated to a club called La Mere Vipere, a hole in the wall at Armitage and Halsted that housed the beginnings of bands like Tutu and the Pirates and a whole lot of sex, drugs, and people dressed in tinfoil, cellophane, and ripped up t-shirts. Eventually burned down, La Mere Vipere's now chi-chi Lincoln Park location was in a part of town riddled by gangsters and prostitutes.

While the specific history of this movement is well chronicled, as the movie progresses it begins to feel a bit long, lingering on interviews with the now married, suburban, anything but punk musicians who share stories and rehash rivalries. The front men of Effigy and Articles of Faith talk trash to each other via the film-maker, and the watcher feels a little too deeply drawn into the politics of the era, as if the documentary is meant more for the very same middle-aged former punks than the population at large.

Though the content of this documentary seems a little ineffectual, even the interviewees admit that no broadly influential bands arose from this movement, the production value is impeccable. With pictures and video from the 70's and 80's, the story of this subculture is painted vividly, giving the viewer a window into a Chicago that is a distinctly different scene than it is today.

You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984 will be available tomorrow, October 27th, from Brooklyn, NY's Factory25 in a limited edition 20 track Vinyl LP/DVD bundle. - Erin Keane

Published on Mon, 26 Oct 2009 15:41:19

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Indomitable Power of Jeans and a T-Shirt

City Chic

Erin Keane

Issue date: 10/12/09 Section: Frontline

For the past year all we've been hearing from the media, from our parents and friends is about the economic downturn, recession, and lay-offs ad nauseum. Talk of tightening the proverbial belt was bound to trickle down to the literal one. Even fashionistas are pondering what to wear in lean times, wondering how to get a lot of look for a little cash. The answer is simple, go for the classics- sound, inexpensive pieces that are versatile enough to carry you through a year's worth of look with only the need to accessorize. Sticking to the basics this fall and winter with jeans and a plain white tee is going to give you the mileage you want from two of fashion's most simple go-to's.

Perhaps one of the best pieces of sartorial advice I can give is to keep it simple. My favorite purchase this September was a 6 -pack of men's, white v-neck t-shirts. I went for a size medium so they have that chic slouchy fit that American Apparel and Urban have us paying beaucoup bucks for and my 6 were only $10. I can spill on every single one of these white t-shirts and still not feel bad about it!

Paired with a pair of skinny jeans and blazer or motorcycle jacket and you have an on trend day look that will turn the heads of tourists on Michigan Ave. Style up the look with dark denim, some long, layered chain necklaces and a pair of booties or pumps and you'll be looking fabulous whether you're out in the West Loop or Wicker Park on Saturday night.

Want more of a hippy vibe? Pair the tee up with a pair of wide-leg or bell-bottom jeans and a pair of platforms and a big slouchy bag and scarf. Gap

The options are literally limitless. All you need is a little creativity to make your basics go for miles. Don't forget to shop your closet, or even better your mom or grandma's to find cool old accessories that will give your jeans and tee a truly unique touch. After all, there's nothing better than looking fabulous for next to nothing.