Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My First International Trip: Ireland!!

I've always dreamed of traveling out of the country, but have never had the opportunity. I've stayed a bit mum about some exciting news, simply because I wanted to make sure it was positively going to happen, but I'm happy to share that for 11 days in April and May, Sean and I are joining my incredible in-laws on a trip to the motherland — IRELAND!

I love to imagine I'll get to travel the world in my lifetime, but if I could only visit a couple places, Ireland is at the top of my list. My mother-in-law's parents came to America from the Dingle Peninsula, and she graciously invited us to join her and father-in-law when they go to visit this spring. We're still footing our travel costs, but without their help, it wouldn't be possible. I feel very lucky and blessed. 

Now that I know it's for real going to happen (and I have a passport!), I'm starting to research things to do in some of the places we'll visit, including:

 Belfast (photo from here.

 Dingle Peninsula (photo from here)

 Donegal (photo from here).

and of course, Dublin. (photo from here.)

Sean's been lucky enough to go to Ireland a few times, but I have no idea what to expect. Have any of you ever been? What was your favorite part of your trip? What surprised you the most? What should I be sure to pack, and what should I be sure to bring back with me? Please share!

P.S., when I picture visiting Ireland, I picture myself dressed like this Marc by Marc Jacobs outfit:

A girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars 2012: Fashion Review

If you read along with my tweets, you know I wasn't super thrilled with this year's show. I like high emotion Oscars...I think it's a given there won't be too many genuine laughs, so why not go for the tears? Plus, my Oscar picks were abysmal. But I will say this, SO many beautiful fashions. And at least one of my Oscar dress suggestions made it to the red carpet, but NOT on who I expected! Let's have some fun and talk fashion!

Best of the Best
There are some actresses who have made a career out of being the best dressed at the Oscars. Jessica Alba, anyone? Well, add Milla Jovovich to that list. I think she just slam-dunked it in this Elie Saab gown. This picture doesn't do the intricate beading justice, but her simple jewelry, the sculptural quality of the one shoulder, the ruby red lip and her marbled plastic clutch were all understated and yet totally Oscar appropriate.

 I know some people weren't sold on the peplum (my friend Bret isn't sold on Michelle, period), but I think this Louis Vuitton gown was so appropriate and unique. Michelle Williams has the right coloring to pull off really bright colors (remember her amazing mustard Vera Wang?) and the dress almost seemed like an homage to Marilyn Monroe. The intricate rushing and pleating looked like something by Jean Desses in the 50s, and I loved the diamond necklace in an oxidized setting.

 On anyone else, I would have decried this as too old, but on Penelope, it was classic Old Hollywood. She looked like a cross between Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly in her Armani Prive.

 Angelina was being a bit obnoxious selling the slit on her Atelier Versace gown, but what can I say? On her, it works. On Lea Michele, it seems desperate. The gown was velvet, which adds so much dimension and harkens back to one of my favorite dresses ever — the one worn in John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Madame X. Also, plus 5 points for smiling.

 I've been waiting for Jessica Chastain to wear a movie star-worthy gown all awards season and she did not disappoint. The intricate Alexander McQueen gown had an Elizabeth I effect that was only complemented by her strawberry hair and simple make-up. She also gets a million points for being the sweetest girl on the red carpet. She was genuinely starstruck to talk to Ryan Seacrest!

 I had to include this shot, didn't I? I mean, I picked this as the dress I would wear to the Oscars if I were the favorite to win! But I gotta say, there is no reason Stacy Keibler should have been wearing my liquid gold Marchesa gown, and on her, it almost looked a little pageant-y. But it's still gorgeous; I can't deny her that!

 Meryl came dressed to win! The minute we saw her in gold, my friend Bret and I knew she was taking this one seriously. Her Lanvin dress was so sparkly and glamorous. She looked like a Roman goddess. She said at a press conference afterward, "It was like I was a kid again. The last time I won was 30 years ago — two of the nominees weren't even conceived!"

Many people were calling Rooney Mara a modern-day Audrey in her Givenchy gown, and I have to admit, it's a fair comparison. What they share, aside from a fondness for the house that Hubert de Givenchy built, is a preference for simplicity and incredible restraint. I would have worn earrings, but good on her for holding back. Perhaps next time, she'll smile more!

Also Great

The red carpet folks were going on and on about how nice it was that Octavia Spencer chose to wear Tadashi Shoji again. I thought it was the best of all their collaborations; it flatters in all the right places and the beading is exquisite. 

People used to say redheads can't wear pink and Emma Stone has been on a mission to change their minds. Her raspberry Giambattista Valli was so beautiful and suited her outgoing personality; my only complaint was that it reminded me too much of this Nicole Kidman Oscar moment.

Most Daring
When I first saw Viola Davis, I didn't recognize her. That's because she decided, on her very biggest night, to go au naturel with her hair and I thought it was so brave, and sweet. No one on the red carpet was saying it, but there is an expectation that black actresses will wear weaves or wigs, and I thought it was nice that on the biggest night of her career thus far, she defied expectation. 

The dress, as well, was daring. I was an eensy bit nervous about her cleavage (when am I not?), but it was a great cap on a great awards season for her.

When I first heard Gwyneth had worn a cape, I think I pictured something different. So when I saw it, I wasn't sure what to think, but after a moment passed, I realized it was so daring and elegant and classy. Leave it to her and Tom Ford to blow our minds in a plain white dress.

The Twitterverse was buzzing over whether J.Lo's Zuhair Murad gown migrated enough to the side to cause a nip slip. If it happened, I missed it. But credit must be given to this woman, who always goes all out for the Oscars and can work the hell out of a sexy dress.

Most Improved
Proud of you, Tina! Apparently Carolina Herrera only wanted to work with her. I'm bummed she stuck to her safe dark colors, but I liked the peplum, the swishy train and her fancy hairsdo. We're getting there, Tina!

 On a night when nearly everyone looked, at the very least, gorgeous and at the most, breathtaking, I am grateful for Melissa Leo and her sequined, floor-length waitress uniform.

 I wanted Glenn Close to wear Zac Posen, who I thought would accentuate her body in all the right ways. Good news: she DID! Bad news: She covered it with a dinner jacket, like a girl wearing her date's jacket on the way to the hotel after prom. Also, I'm not entirely sure what color this dress was...it looked black on TV, but looks green here.

 This dress isn't even really ugly but it enraged me because: 1) Kristen Wiig has a disturbing aversion to color and looking glamorous; 2) I feel like I've seen it so many times before.

Don't believe me? Remember Jennifer Connelly? Or Halle Berry's sorta similar dress? Okay, maybe that's a stretch. I just want to see her own the fact she's skinny and pretty and can wear whatever she wants and it doesn't have to be fancy emergency gauze.

I love Sandy and I like (sometimes love) Marchesa, but who on earth thought this dress was a good idea? She was swimming in it. Her high ponytail didn't help either; it was as though she just finished a two-mile run, got back to the locker room and realized her outfit was gone and she was going to have to wear a mother-of-the-bride dress from Cache.

I want to give Shailene Woodley kudos for trying to be edgy on the red carpet this season, but there were so many missteps. I think she has problems with fit (this sort of hugged in unflattering ways) and age-appropriateness. This dress reminds me of one thing, and it's the "Woman in White" storyline on Days of Our Lives (Am I the only one who remembers that?). 

I feel like if you're 20, and you're at the Oscars for the first time ever and you're in a Best Picture nominee, you need to be bringing the hottness, Jennifer Lawrence-style.  I'm picturing something like this.

Who Wore It Best?
 It's a do-or-die battle for who carries off the bob-and-black sparkle combo the best. Anna Faris here is giving American Horror Story rubber suit-meets-Thoroughly Modern Millie realness, but you could honestly convince me she was a drag queen in this Diane von Furstenberg dress.

Rose Byrne, however, is giving straight-up Bianca Jagger in the Studio 54 days realness, and looks amazing. It's no secret I'm in love with a good bob, and the Vivienne Westwood dress was slinky, sexy and appropriate for her role there, which was as an ensemble member in a well-regarded comedy. She gets my vote!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Best v.89

Joan Fontaine, gazing at her Oscar. See more awesome Oscars pics from LIFE here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscars 2012: What I Would Wear

For years, I've indulged in my own little private Fashion Police on this blog, tearing apart celebrities or putting them on pedestals. But last year, I tried something new. I put myself in their shoes, and tried to figure out what I would have worn. I've been too busy to get psyched about this year's show, but to get myself in the mood, I figured I'd plan out my imaginary turn on the red carpet. 

If I Were ... A Nominee's Date
or a Nominated Documentarian

I might wear this breezy, crinkly Oscar de la Renta dress. It's understated enough to show that I know no one's watching this show for me, but it's also a gorgeous, universally flattering color and no one will put me on a worst-dressed list for letting my dress wrinkle! 
I actually love the necklace shown with the dress on the runway, so using that as inspiration, I flipped for this ruby and emerald antique necklace.

This understated Badgely Mischka is beautifully cut, interesting and a lovely color. I can easily imagine it on one of those documentarian ladies who always look like they totally weren't prepared for this amount of attention.

I'd accentuate the beautiful neckline by swooping my hair up into a Victorian 'do, secured with this antique butterfly hairpin.

If I Were ... A Presenter

Let's say I'm one of those people who's always randomly invited to present an award, like Zoe Saldana or Cameron Diaz or Jessica Alba. I'd go for this gunmetal, sparkly-but-edgy Monique Lhuillier dress. It doesn't need any jewelry to compete...I'd probably follow the styling here and do a matte red or hot pink lip and gorgeous soft sculpted curls.

If I Were ... A First-Time Nominee

I'd burst onto the scene with this frothy, gilded Zac Posen gown. It's pure drama — sexy and Old Hollywood all combined. It's an attention-grabber, but not for the wrong reasons. In this scenario, I'd imagine I'm a Rooney Mara or even (unnominated) Shailene Woodley.

Just to show that I don't follow the pack, I'd skip the diamonds in favor of dramatic and interesting antique earrings, like these emerald and gold danglers.

If I Were ... A Grand Old Dame

If I've learned anything, it's that older actresses who are universally revered and have been down that carpet a million times are all about sleeves and simplicity. I'd love to see Meryl Streep swan around in a bold color, like this sparkly Michael Kors gown. 

And although she's been on a frump parade lately, I think Glenn Close could rock a slightly less mermaid-y version of this Zac Posen gown. It's got sleeves and is fairly modest, but it's a showstopper.

I'd pair it with an antique floral diamond necklace, perfect for a distinguished decolletage.

If I Were ... The Favorite to Win

I would come dressed to win in this liquid gold, pure romance Marchesa gown. Sure, it's cliche, but dressing like the Oscar worked for Sandra Bullock! Plus, I love the Madame X quality to the neckline, and the way the fabric folds like a rose. There is no bad angle on that gown...and just imagine it on Viola Davis! She'd look slammin'. (Can I bring slammin' back, by the way?)

I'd bling it up with diamond and polished-emerald sparklers, but maybe even go more minimal and just wear some simple antique diamond drops.

And if I were feeling especially daring, I might don this wisteria Monique Lhuillier. Seriously...no jewelry needed.

So what do you think? Am I crazy? Will you send me a check if one of these dresses actually shows up on the red carpet? 

As always, I'll be tweeting the show @amberfi. I don't tweet much, but I go all out for awards shows!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fish Tacos, Country Drives and Williamsburg Wanderings

The great, fun thing about hosting visitors is that you get to do a little vacationing in your own town. We got to do a bit of that this weekend when our friends Arthur and Holly came to visit, and it was one of the best tours I think we've given!

On Saturday, we ventured out to tiny (I mean TINY) Rescue, Virginia in Isle of Wight County to eat at Captain Chuck-a-Muck's, a seafood institution in the area. It's been featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and is the kind of place where you can dock your boat, pop up for crab cakes and hit the river for a day on the water.

 Just get a look at that authentic down-home copy writing! We started with sweet onion hush puppies with a hint of Old Bay seasoning and an order of onion rings, also dusted with Old Bay. SO GOOD.

I had the famous fish tacos, which were absolutely delicious. They're made with pan-fried mahi mahi, mango slaw and sour cream sauce. Extremely tasty!

 Best friends!

 We took a peek at the boats docked near the restaurant, before heading down to Smithfield for a quick trip through one of my favorite Wharf Hill Antiques.

We took a pleasant country drive down Route 10 to the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. You drive your car right on and cross the James River, approaching Jamestown just as the colonists did! It's the best free boat ride around.

 Why oh why is my purse always falling off my shoulder?

 Once we got to Williamsburg, we took a walk I can only describe as an evening constitutional around the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg. We admired the sheep...

 And most especially the Colonial garden, where bell jars are used for more than decoration!

 Holly takes in the lovely view...

 And for dinner, we gorged ourselves at Blue Talon Bistro. Holly and I each ordered pot roast, which was so hearty and filling.

On the side, we had truffled French fries, and for dessert we went crazy (seriously, we felt sick from sweets) and split burnt sugar ice cream, creme brulee and chocolate mousse.

I'm such a picky eater that it was a big deal to add fish tacos to the list of things I enjoy. How bout you guys? Try anything new and delicious lately?