Spring Forward Fashion: Shopping in Your Neck of the Woods

Photo: Trends for the spring all in one photo: bright colors, '70s boho chic, wide leg high waisted pants, and eclectic prints.

Freshen up your look this spring season with fashion trends that add a zip to your step. Shopping to select trends which suit your personality is easy this season. Fashion should be fun! If it feels good and you have confidence, then the trend is working for you! Fashion is a lifestyle, live it through your clothes and your attitude and you can wear anything.

Spring is my favorite time to shop! There's something so effortless and fresh about the season. The clothes lighten up, just like the people wearing them! With March comes spring fashion and with spring fashion come the trends. As a woman who adores clothes and style, I can't tell you how excited I am that spring is here!

Trying to figure out what to wear now that the seasons are changing can be tricky. It’s too early for bare arms and sandals but not if you layer. Think socks with sandals, tanks under dresses, scarves, wraps...

I recently had a fun experience shopping at my home town boutique in Denton, JT Clothiers, a family owned business since the ‘70s ( Tritt’s began in the ‘60s and JT’s followed in the 70s). Agnes Tritt the matriarch began a family owned business that James, Nancy, and Jimmy have carried on in order to make Denton fashionable. I remember being a little girl and shopping at Tritt’s with my mom; she would pick out her gowns for the Denton Benefit League Ball there. I can recall looking at the sea of dresses and thinking how much I looked forward to shopping there when I grew up. I have certainly never been disappointed. Shopping with people that you know and that care what you look like and how you feel about it helps give you confidence in making decisions about what to buy. Karen, who has worked at JT’s for twenty years knows me well!

What I love about shopping in a boutique like JT’s is that you can always find more than one style and trend but they can both marry well together. That’s what is so great about boutiques! You will find chic accessories, layering pieces, quality basics, and the latest trends. What's special about JT's is that it's a store for both men and women. The shopping experience in a boutique is also much more personal than a large shopping complex. I also love supporting the local economy and keeping money circulating in our community.

When I got home from JT’s I did a fashion show for my husband and he said that in of the dresses I tried on I looked like a proper Southern lady. In another dress he said I looked like Jade Jagger. As distinctly different as they may be, I like both of those kinds of styles; I tend to be drawn to each and my style comes out looking like an eclectic lady. 
Ashley's Spring Top Ten:
1. Midcalf and bubble skirts: Warm weather or cold, midcalf skirts are a lady like and school teacher appropriate alternative to a super-short mini. Keep your proportions in check by pairing them with shorter fitted tops or tucked-in tanks. Your mini will most likely be a bubble skirt.
2. Dresses: The style requires zero effort. Just slip it on and go! Dresses are a must have when it comes to any spring-summer season as they can offer the style, comfort and femininity every woman needs. There are a variety of dresses designs you can choose from depending on the occasion as well as body type and preference so choose the dresses which suit you perfectly. Go for casual over the knee length dresses, printed dresses, created out of fabrics which allow the body to breath. Choose fabrics such as silk and chiffon.

3. The Wrap: One of my favorite items this spring is an origami wrap by Lilla P. I love that it can be worn in an infinite amount of ways: backwards, forwards, tied, twisted, worn loose, as a halter, or thrown over the shoulders, the versatility makes it wonderful over any outfit. Great for travel, the soft pima cotton wrap is light enough to take along anywhere for any season. I imagine DVF and Donna Karen both have one because it’s chic and similar to their fashion philosophy.
4. ‘70s fashion: The ‘70s are back with bohemian glamour. Think Charlie’s Angels at studio 54 meets hippy chic. wide leg pants, halter tops, platform heels, strappy sandals, floppy hats and round sunglasses like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.
5. Bright hues: Spring brings a rainbow of cheerful candy colors and mixed patterns. Colors like vivid orange will brighten your day!
6. Shorts: high waisted lady like dressed up shorts as well as longer boyish dressed down shorts.
7. Prints: eclectic mixed and matched make for a fun palette: polka-dots, florals, animal print, paisley, stripes... Think “art teacher” who likes to wear all her favorite creations at once and somehow, it works! mixing unique prints in unexpected ways.
8. Heritage: Capturing culture, customs, and traditions with lace and crochet that don’t stop at clothing and carry over to shoes and handbags.
9. Nautical: blue and white horizontal stripes always mangage to stay fresh. The nautical trend is always a spring favorite treat that is a casual, chic, and classic look.
10. Feminine This Spring, styles are either super feminine with lots of pink, romantic, and flowy styles to make you feel like an angel.

Photo: I love braided details in fabrics, bags, and in the hair. I'm reminded of Project Runway designer, Uli who used flowy feminine fabrics and found a boho chic way to add braided detail to her designs.

Photo: Jade Jagger showing off her boho chic style and me showing one of the many versatile ways to wear the origami wrap.

Edie Brickell: My First Musical Love


Do you remember your first music concert? The memory is a bit like the feeling you experienced from the rush of your first infatuation … that delightful, dreamy feeling you never wanted to end and it always holds a special place in your heart leaving a mark on it forever. My first concert was Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Edie was my first musical love. 
I was fifteen and wearing the coolest outfit I had in 1989 (jeans my mother didn't care for because they had a hole somewhere they shouldn’t have and lots of hippy jewelry). My parents took my friend and I and I’ll never forget that it was everything I thought it would be…my kind of scene and total definition of cool! 
I have very clear memories of the songs that were played, where we were standing in the Bronco Bowl theatre and what the stage looked like, how Edie would stand balancing with one leg crossed, what she talked about before she played the next song. But mostly, I remember that unforgettable feeling that I would always love her music and it fit me personally (it still fits me today). It’s amazing how we can be influenced and shaped by the music we listen to.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend many different kinds of concerts…but to this day when I leave a concert and feel that high from a musical buzz, the smell the smoke in my clothes and hair, and hear that ringing in my ears I think of Edie Brickell.  We all have a musical artist that defines us; the one who we listen to when we’re sad or happy because it’s comforting to sing along with the words you know by heart.
Surely you have a favorite Edie Brickell song; What I Am and Circle were the two most popular. For me, my favorite depends on my mood. She sings with many emotions… happy, melancholy, and deep. I’m very fond of her version of Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall that was featured in the movie Born on the Fourth of July. 
Edie Brickell is a native Texan who grew up in Oak Cliff, went to high school at Booker T. Washington, and attended SMU for a while. I remember reading that after a few shots of tequila she made the decision to get up on stage with the New Bohemians. You can tell from the way she stands that she’s shy and awkward, but I always found this to be an endearing quality. With eight albums: Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars (1988), Ghost of a Dog (1990), Picture Perfect Morning (1994), Volcano (2003), Stranger Things(2006), The Heavy Circles (2008), and most recently her third solo album titled Edie Brickell, and her new band The Gaddabouts (2010), she has managed to stay relevant. In between her musical career she’s had three children and lives in New York with husband singer/songwriter Paul Simon who she met on the set of Saturday Night Live in 1992.

Edie has a very distinct musical style that’s laidback, cool, refreshing, and very Texas. She has an easy to feel energy and groove that makes you feel like you are listening to her live even if you’re not.

I’ve always thought if I could sing I would want a voice mixed and married with the soft folkie sound of Karen Carpenter, the natural musicality of Linda Ronstadt, and the punchy rock of Heart's Ann Wilson…you know what? That voice might just be Edie Brickell’s! The beauty of Brickell’s voice is that it’s not perfect, it’s real. I think her new album, Edie Brickell is simply titled for that very reason. Do you have some musical memories that transport you back in time?

And Then He Kissed Me

Once upon a time in the far off land of Tuscaloosa, Alabama I met my prince! To meet him I had to walk through prickly thorn forest, a dark scary cave, and thief ally. A night I tell almost no one about (especially not my mother)...
I was on a group date with my best friend in college at the University of Alabama and her date along with several others (it was a fairly large crowd). My date, Thad, wasn’t that interested in me because he kept forgetting I was there! I actually had a crush on someone else, a culinary major named Trent. He offered me a bite of asparagus while he held it...hmmm! My crush made us dinner: ravioli with white cream sauce, asparagus, and cocktails (lots of cocktails)! After a lovely dinner we all piled up in the car and I threw my keys on the floor board. I was the youngest one there and had not yet turned twenty-one. We were off to a karaoke bar and I was ready to have some fun!
Gallivanting up to the line of the club my date, forgetting me, left me behind. My best friend, in a love trance, only had eyes for her date. That left me alone to hear, "I'm sorry I can't let you in!” Then I said with a very slow southern accent, “Oh noooo!”
I was alone in Tuscaloosa wearing a shiny purple jacket and glitter, lots of glitter! I was not far from Bruno's grocery store and thought I could walk there and call my roommate (this was before everyone had cell phones). Off I went feeling very much like Snow White when she was scared and lost in the deep dark forest. This was my “always darkest before the dawn” moment. Entering a grocery store looking like a disco queen at nine-o-clock at night just didn’t feel right. I had no quarters for the pay phone and the cashier wouldn't give me change. I finally got a ride home and remembered my keys were on the floor board of Thad's car. My roommate was not home I sat on my doormat crying!
I decided I could not wait for my roommate and needed to find a phone! Wiping off my glitter I mustered up some courage and knocked on my neighbor’s door. My prince answers, “Hello! Are you alright?” He saved me and offered me a beer to go with my phone call. Of course I could not get my roommate because she was out having her own fun, so my prince (who happens to resemble Prince Charles in his younger days) and I waited together and talked getting to know each other. We were in a bubble my prince and I; there was no one but us. Everything felt right. Looking at him I felt I already knew him. It was instant attraction and then he kissed me! The Crystals played in my head…

He kissed me in a way that I've never been kissed before,
he kissed me in a way that I wanna be kissed forever more.
I knew that he was mine so I gave him all the love that I had
and one day he took me home to meet his mom and his dad.
Then he asked me to be his bride
and always be right by his side.
I felt so happy I almost cried
and then he kissed me.
The Crystals tell the rest of our story, but you never forget the beginning! Ahh, the beginning…magic, fireworks, a yellow brick road, and glitter (lots of glitter)!  

Florence: Pizza, Pasta, and Piazzas

When you travel to a new place, you notice that your surroundings aren’t familiar and you’re constantly observing and discovering; senses awaken and you become alive! In Florence, even if it’s a repeat visit, this feeling never ends! Travel recharges the batteries and wakes up the spirit. Only in Florence will your senses scream la dolce vita! You can see art of the Renaissance, touch the thin crispy crust of a pizza Margarita, taste the Chianti wine, smell the fruity olive oil, and hear Giotto’s bell towers…I become zoetic in Florence with its beauty, history, and love. Florence is surreal; the images that you’ve seen in photos and movies magically come to life before your eyes. It truly is a different world. 
Florence was originally named Florentia which means “may she flourish.” Considered to be the most beautiful city in the world it is also the birthplace of the Renaissance. What I love is that the people of Florence are so proud to share their country with you; they are very helpful and eager. It is home to Dante, da Vinci, Michelangelo, the Medici family, and Galileo.  Florence is the capital of art; not only art history but the decoration of their houses, gardens, and fashion is perfection.
I am a fan of all things Italian: gelato, Sienna cinnamon colors, maze of paved stone streets, vespas, pizza, pasta, terracotta pots with colorful red flowers, piazzas, osteries, trattories, lemoncello, leather, jewelry, lace lingerie, Pinocchio…
I used to imagine myself as a travel writer/food critic before we had children. I still subscribe to Conde Nast Traveler and love thinking about planning our next trip. I really look forward to taking our children to Italy; once my youngest gets a little older I think we could do it. Italians love children, that’s not what worries me, it’s the flight there! Italy is known to be the best country in the world to have a child, and to be one! Children are greeted everywhere with enthusiasm.

Enjoying Florence takes time and that’s exactly what you’ll need if you plan to share this extremely fabulous town with thousands of sightseers. The good news is everything in Florence is within walking distance: restaurants, churches, museums, outdoor discotheques…The bonus is that once in the Italian time zone, you magically have more time to just be!
Walking around you will find the Florentine bats are confident creatures (just like Italian men); they are not afraid to swoop down and check you out (again…just like Italian men)! Both are harmless, it’s just their way!
It’s difficult for Americans to adjust to the Italian lifestyle; they linger over meals (being slow is a privilege); taking long strolls, naps, and they never talk about money! Traffic lights are optional and more of a decoration! When an American comes back home they long for that slower pace of life like they felt in Florence, unfortunately that is not American! Unless driving, Italians rarely say vai! vai! (go)!
You can eat very well in Florence, the simpler the restaurant, the better the food. I prefer that simple unrefined cooking that has no airs. It is very Italian to eat what you know; Italians are comforted by the familiar. The Florentines are convinced that the origins of French cooking are directly attributed to Catherine de’Medici’s move to France, naturalmente!
There are beautiful details throughout the city; even the street names… Via delle Belle Donne (beautiful women street). Another reason to walk, you never know what street you’ll end up on for that Renaissance photograph.
Before you go, find inspiration and get the most for your upcoming trip by reading or watching A Room with a View, The Light in the Piazza, and Life Is Beautiful. Listen to the Big Night soundtrack and prepare your palate and belly for the ultimate gastronomic experience.

Things to do in Florence…climb 400 some steps of the Duomo, see the Uffizi museum (make a reservation), see David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia    , the original baptistery door panels by Ghiberti , Fra Angelico’s “The Annunciation” at Museo de San Marco, eat at Villa San Michele (don’t stay there, they will bankrupt you), Piazza Signoria where you can see the most perfect example of a tirebouchon (corkscrew) sculpture.
Photo: Above, Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines stands outside Palazzo Vecchio. Below, one of Ghiberti's original baptistery panel.

Then in the end it’s always nice to throw down the guide book and follow where your instincts tell you to go. My husband and I loved stopping in a Tabacchi to pick up cigarettes and wine to enjoy on our hotel balcony. Those were some of the most memorable nights; people watching in Florence you will find a plethora of entertainment. Having a gelato in the piazza, you will see just how small our world is. We are all neighbors! I remember seeing the same couple several times during our stay there; I may have gotten a little too friendly when she thought I was going to eat her dessert!

During these last winter weeks you might be suffering from the blues, you could become your own therapist and prescribe a week or more in Florence. It has medicinal cures that are sure to revive your spirit. Even if it’s a long way away until you’re able to go, its fun to plan for the future and Florence awaits with its pizza, pasta, and piazzas! Buona Fortuna! Cin cin! Ciao!
Photo: My husband Derek getting "Italian" therapy!