Author Archives: Shea Brakefield

About Shea Brakefield

Lawyer for pay. Fashion crimefighter for free.

This woman could have used our help – a crime of fashion (with bonus poll and update!)

The date: April 16, 2013

The place: Corner of 4th and Commerce in downtown Nashville

The crime:

pink suit

The description: Kids, I’m just gonna cut to the chase – that’s a pale pink bermuda short-suit. I don’t know what this woman has going on underneath this suit because I never saw her from the front. But frankly, I don’t care – because there is absolutely ZERO chance that it improved the look.*

*I am, however, going to give her the benefit of the doubt and not comment on her sneakers. That’s because we ladies who work downtown know that sometimes you have to sacrifice style for the sake of the preservation of both your feet and your shoes. Instead I will assume she has a perfectly adorable pair of pumps waiting for her underneath her desk at the office.**

Now normally I would be confused by this lady’s look, but not necessarily particularly alarmed. I mean, where is she going in this? Any occasion that would call for a blazer would certainly be too fancy for shorts, true?? And any situation where shorts would be appropriate would clearly be too causal for a blazer, right??

My true concern came the following week when I spotted this look at my local Banana Republic:


I am not okay with this.

The lesson: Women of America – now is the time to rise up and tell the retailers of this world that we will not live in a society that accepts this bastard child of fashion. You either need a suit or you need shorts. There is NEVER a time where you need both simultaneously. Let us rise up and revolt against this offensive tyranny so that the next generation may live in a world free from such horrors!!!

But I recognize I might be alone in my fear and loathing of the shorts suit, so here is your BONUS POLL – what do you think??

**UPDATE!!! Following your wise and wonderful advice, I bit the bullet and bought the leopard print JCrew Etta pumps featured in my last post and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!! Here they are living under my desk today next to the flip-flops I wear to and from the parking deck:


Hence the cutting of slack to the lady and her sneakers featured above. Let’s all just pretend she has a pair of equally awesome shoes living under her desk, too.

J Crew Etta Pump – things I’m loving for Spring

OH MY WORD Y’ALL  – TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!!! As with every year,  I seriously thought this day might never come. But FINALLY the days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and my heart is, therefore, singing a little bit louder (but luckily for you kids, only on the inside).

And now here is where I confess there is one thing about Winter I will actually miss – wearing my boots. Boots are the ONLY good thing about cold weather and I will truly miss them when it’s time to box them up and store them in the spare linen closet (What? You don’t keep your boots in the linen closet??).

But putting away my boots and closing the linen closet door on my Winter shoe wardrobe means it’s time to start thinking about my Spring and Summer shoe wardrobe.  Hooray! After evaluating my current stable of Spring shoes, and in keeping with 2013′s theme of “quality over quantity”, I’ve decided to invest in a new pair of “neutral” pumps to add to my Spring and Summer work wardrobe this year. And after a little website perusing, I’ve settled on the Etta pump from J Crew.

But sadly not this particular pair because 1) as much as I love a good bird print / glitter combo, they wouldn’t be very versatile and, 2) everyone else loved them, too so they’re already sold out. 

I decided on this style for a few reasons. First, I’ve been feeling very “girlie” in my style choices so far this Spring – lots of florals, pinks and polka-dots are tickling my fancy – and the rounded-toe and stacked-heel combo lend this shoe a retro, ladylike vibe that I think will complement that nicely. Second, the stacked heel is comfy and easy to walk in. More importantly, even though it’s 3 3/4 inches, it is work appropriate – because I work in courtroom and not on a street corner.

So since we’ve (oh so sadly) ruled out the awesome bird pair above, let’s take a look at the three pairs of Etta pumps I’m considering for Spring -  starting with the most neutral of the bunch:

J Crew Etta cap toe leather pump - $248

Pros:  These are seriously neutral and, therefore, also seriously versatile. The cap toe and gold accent add a bit of visual interest. And these would probably be in style forever.

Cons: They may also be seriously boring. Yes, I could wear them with all manner of black suit pairings, but I already have a pair of nice, similar-looking, black pumps I bought last fall to fill that role.

Next up:

J Crew Etta canvas stripe pumps – $250

Pros: So stinkin’ cute I could die. Love the stacked-wood heel. Love the black and white. LOVE THE STRIPES.

Cons: Not quite as versatile as the previous pair. Yes, the colors make the pair wearable, but I’m a bit concerned the canvas might be a little too casual to wear to court making this pair less versatile than the previous one.

And finally:

J Crew Etta calf hair pumps – $350

Pros: Leopard print.  That’s really the only pro I need.

Cons: $100 more expensive than either of the other two pairs. But I did wear the beejesus out of my previous pair of leopard pumps – so much so they’ve developed a tiny, white bald spot on the toe – so I know the cost per wear would probably justify the increased price.

I legitimately love all three pairs of these shoes, but quality over quantity means I can only get one of them. That’s where you come in.


Spring Dresses at Anthropologie – do we love them?

It’s official, kids – we’ve reached the time of year where it is a daily struggle for me to resist the urge to fling myself into oncoming traffic just to avoid suffering through any more of Winter. Between the dreary, gray weather and the horror of Valentine’s Day, February is easily the worst month of the year. This year February has brought me extra fun in the form of a car wreck, a summons for jury duty, a crazy work-travel schedule, and, judging by the sheer volume of kleenex I have used in the past 24 hours, a pretty heinous cold.  THANK GOD this month is almost over.

So today I decided to do what I always do when I’m feeling down about the never-ending doldrums of Winter, I decided to start shopping for Spring. Where did I start? Duh. You should be ashamed that you even had to ask.

And once I got to the promised land, I started my perusing where any girl longing for warmer weather would – with the dresses. So what did my beloved have to offer me soothe my Winter-weary soul? Well, for starters, Anthro offered me this:

Smocked Malee Dress – $148

Um, no thanks. Given that I do not plan to wander barefoot through any marshes or ride any burros this Spring, I think I’ll pass on this one. But I was undeterred. And then I saw this:

Echoed Still Life Shirt Dress – $198

I don’t think this looks like a tablecloth. I think this might be an ACTUAL tablecloth. From 1975. And I don’t understand why anyone would want to wear it. Still, every store makes some missteps every now and then. Let’s see what else Anthro has to offer:

Swell Sweatshirt Dress – $198

Seriously? In what universe is a drop-waist sweatshirt dress flattering on anyone??? It’s not even flattering on the model. Comfy? I’m sure. Flattering? Not so much. And now I’m starting to get concerned:

Flared Bandana Shirt Dress – $148

GOOD LORD WHY??!!?? If it looks like it could have been stitched together by my ancestors on the Oregon Trail, I do not want it.


Lilian Halter Dress – $298


Dolly Chambray Dress – $298

That’s it. I’m done. If you need me I’ll be on my couch trying to drown out the memory of those shoulders with Nyquil and bourbon.

But what do you think?



Citizens of Humanity ‘Avedon’ Skinny Jeans – things I’m loving

Raise your hand if you made New Year’s Resolutions for 2013. Now keep it raised if you’re still working on those resolutions during this third week of February. I am very proud to say that I can be counted among those of you who still have their hands raised. Maybe that’s because this year, instead of resolving to try one new thing every month like I did last year (number of months that lasted = 1), I set two attainable and manageable goals.

Resolution No. 1: Learn how to cook food.

This year I decided it is no longer cute that I have no idea how to prepare a meal for myself and/or others. When I say “I don’t cook” I think people think I’m joking. But the sad truth is that other than knowing how to throw some spaghetti sauce on a bowl of noodles or make a pretty kick-ass batch of nestle tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, I REALLY don’t know how to cook. Like, I set things on fire and/or almost poison people when I try.

So this year I’ve been taking steps and making efforts to change that – with some guidance from a more knowledgeable friend I invested in some good knives, a nice cutting board, a couple of cookbooks, and voila:

Now I know that greek chicken pitas and roasted potatoes probably aren’t that impressive to most of you, but trust me – the fact that my kitchen was still standing AND this meal was delish is a BIG FREAKIN DEAL. But have no fear – there is absolutely zero chance this will be turning into a food blog anytime soon. So let’s get to my second, and more relevant resolution.

Resolution No. 2:  Quality over quantity.

I have come to the revelation that I have a lot of stuff. Stuff I don’t need. Stuff that is preventing me from seeing, using and enjoying the other stuff I have because it is taking up space in my house and my life. And, of course, a lot of that stuff is clothing and clothing-adjacent. So I made a resolution to spend my money more wisely and less freely. To really think about my purchases before I make them and invest in things I truly love.

I actually got a head start on this resolution in 2012 when I bought the new bag I previously talked about here. Well that purchase turned out so well that I convinced myself it was a good idea to save up and bite the bullet on these boots:

Frye Jackie Tall Riding Boot – $428

Did each of these purchases make me clutch my chest and need to breathe into a paper bag after I handed over the credit card? Sure. But have I regretted either purchase since then? Not for one second. I truly LOVE and have enjoyed wearing and using the heck out of both the bag and the boots. The cost per wear for each of them has got to be down into the single-digit range by now. And knowing that I spent good money for good quality goods means I can continue to enjoy them for several years more.

So when 2013 rolled around and I found myself in need of a new pair of skinny jeans to finish out the season, I decided to forgo the Gap jeans that had previously been my standard (even though I secretly always thought they weren’t terribly flattering or comfy – at least they were cheap) and set out in search of a high-quality pair that would fit, flatter and last. Enter the Citizens of Humanity Avedon Jean:

Citizens of Humanity Avedon Skinny Jean – $198

Y’all…. these are the Best. Jeans. EVER. So much so that within a week of purchase I went back and bought a second pair in black. They’re super-soft, just high enough in the waist to avoid the dreaded muffin top yet not so high as to cut off your circulation when you sit down, and the perfect dark rinse. And best of all they totally hold their shape through repeated wearings and washings.

After years of buying pair after pair after pair of uncomfortable, unflattering jeans that I end up donating or shoving in the back of the closet after I’ve realized my mistake, I can say that I have finally seen the light. These jeans are worth every penny. Just like the bag and the boots mentioned above, I wear these jeans often enough that the cost per wear is constantly on the decline making them a bargain in any book.

So that’s my pitch for quality over quantity. Just something to think about next time you’re making a fashion purchase. Have any of you made a big clothing purchase that paid off in the long run? And did any of you kids make any fashion-related resolutions this year? If so – I’d love to hear about them in the comments.  Long live 2013!!!

Bejeweled Collar Necklace – do we love it?

Ah, January. Is there a more disgusting and depressing month of the year? Oh wait, there is – February. Thank goodness we still have that to look forward to.  You know what always makes me feel better during gray, drab, soul-numbing times like these? Sparkly things. And shopping. And shopping for sparkly things.

And along those lines, one such sparkly thing that I keep coming across these days is the bejeweled collar necklace. Like so:

Tasha ‘Pretty Pearls’ Collar – $42

Now for better or worse, when I think of these types of collars, I think of this girl:

image credit

Which is not very fair to poor Zooey because when I tried to find a picture of her wearing one, I came up empty. But I think I think of her because, to me, these type of collars just beg to be worn by “quirky” girls who ride bikes with wicker baskets  and bake gluten-free cookies in their vintage aprons to take to their semi-ironic quilting circles on Thursday nights. And while I can be described as many things (tall, blonde, loud, stubborn, bossy, all-around awesome), “quirky” is not generally one of them.

But given how sparkly and fun these collars seem in this, the cold, dreary dead of winter, I thought I would give them a little look-see anyway and see if there’s a way to make one work for me.

Let’s start with this one:

Tasha ‘Sequin Squares’ Collar – $38

Now this collar, worn in this way, and paired with this shirt so it looks like an actual collar on the garment, might be kind of cute.

Same thing goes for this one:

Krystal Collar Bib Necklace – $50

I like the idea of being able to dress up a simple sweater or blouse that you wore to the office with a sparkly necklace for a date or drinks with the girls after work.

But this one…. this one is insane:

Echo Beaded Collar - $38

All she needs are some bunny ears and a tail and she could be serving drinks at the Playboy mansion. And that’s not really a look I’m going for.

So in general, I think if deployed properly on the right girl I could get on board with the bejeweled collar necklace. Am I quirky enough to be that girl, myself? The jury’s still out. But what do you think?

This girl could have used our help – a crime of fashion

The date: December 31, 2012

The place: Red Door East, Nashville, TN

The crime:


The description: Hello kids and welcome to 2013!! I hope everyone’s new years are off to a fabulously-fashionable start!!*

*If we could all get in our imaginary time machines and pretend this post isn’t coming 22 days into the new year that would be great, kthanks.

Now I usually HATE New Year’s Eve. It’s one of those holidays that – like Halloween- never quite lives up to the hype. But I am happy to report that this year’s version turned out to be a pretty kick-ass celebration thanks to good friends, good times, and this woman’s amazing pants. Now despite the fact that this woman is literally wearing a sparkly muu-muu with a pair of animal-print pants, you might be surprised to learn that she was NOT over the age of 55. In fact, I would venture to guess she probably wasn’t even over the age of 35. And yet, while the rest of us ladies chose to break out our best sequins and lace…

Please excuse my posture – I promise I have not suddenly developed a hunchback. It’s just that Miss Megan to my right is teeny and I was trying not to look like a hulking giant next to her.  Pretty sure giant would have been better.

… our dear friend above chose to break out her best ensemble from the Blanche Devereaux collection. Weird. I will never understand East Nashville.

The lesson: Save your sparkly muu-muus and animal print pants for the retirement village and rock your tight minis and high heels while you can. The tiger stripes will still be there in 50 years. Promise.

Faux fur vests – do we love them?

Merry almost Christmas kids!!! Hope all of your trees are trimmed, all of your gifts are wrapped and all of your halls are decked. Because if not, it’s probably not gonna happen.

I, myself, was a responsible fashionista and got all of my Christmas shopping done well in advance this year – so when I made a trip to the mall on Saturday, December 22,  it was for the sheer joy of gloating at all of those poor, poor souls who were not as smart as I. And because I wasn’t busy shopping for others, I had plenty of time to check out things for my own closet.

photo-1Also – this may have happened.

And one of the things I checked out for my own closet was one of the many faux fur vests that have been crowding the racks for the past few seasons. Now, in theory, I love a faux fur vest. I mean, it’s the signature look of my stylist icon:

image credit

But much like the long-loved, yet never-worn fedora, no matter how hard I try, I cannot have any reaction to the faux fur vest on my own self other than this one:


I mean, what kind of animal is that supposed to be??? And how do I make it look like anything other than a bathmat over my outfit??

Yes – I realize that these vests are kind of ridiculous. But in theory, I cannot quit them no matter how hard I try. I see something like this in a store and I think that against all odds I can somehow make it work:

Aqua Faux Fur Reversible Vest at Bloomingdales – $89

But when I put one on I feel like a lost eskimo.

So because it’s Christmas*, I’m giving you a chance to weigh in. What do you think?

*Also because it’s the whole purpose of this blog. But throwing Christmas in the mix makes it feel extra festive, don’t you think??

Pim + Larkin Metallic Brocade Jacket – do we love it?

I have a confession to make. And this might shock some of you so prepare yourselves….

I do not always put a lot of time and effort into my outfits.

There, I said it. And today, this Thanksgiving Eve as I sit at my desk doing anything other than work, is one of those days. As proof, I offer this e-mail I sent to BrHS this morning:

“Speaking of wardrobe, you would be appalled by what I’m wearing today. Black leggings, button-up plaid shirt (untucked), wet hair in a braid (since I’m going to yoga anyway) and minimal make-up. AND b/c it’s sub-arctic in my office I’ve kept my black fleece jacket on the whole time I’ve been here anyway so all of that other stuff doesn’t matter. Then I felt extra-bad b/c when I was walking in, (name of co-worker who prob doesn’t want to be mentioned on my blog redacted) was heading out to do a court approval in a full suit. I should prob be ashamed – but I’m not.”

I don’t offer any photographic evidence because well, frankly, I look gross – gross enough that some of you might not come back and take fashion advice from me if you saw what I look like today.

But, rest-assured, I plan to get back to looking cute and stylish in the very near future. And one of the ways I plan to do that is by taking advantage of all of the stellar Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that are coming our way. Here’s a jacket a came across while doing a little pre-sale window-shopping on Piperlime the other day:

Pim + Larkin Brocade Jacket – $79

Snakeskin is quickly becoming the leopard print of the Winter 2012 season for me.* It’s neutral enough to be mixed and matched with a variety of colors and pieces, but fun enough to add a little punch to an otherwise simple ensemble.

*This should in no way be construed to mean that leopard print is not still the pattern that stirs me to my very soul. Just that now snakeskin is also a once tacky and taboo animal print that is starting to work it’s way into my fashion heart.

Now I’m loving this chic little jacket worn just as it’s shown above – with a simple black tank and jeans maybe for date night with your boyfriend/hubs. But I’m also picturing it paired with a fun little black cocktail dress for an office holiday party, or with black leggings, knee-high boots, and a flow-y silk top in a jewel tone for girls’ night out or New Year’s Eve. It seems like such a fun, inexpensive way to punch up your winter wardrobe.

But am I crazy? Is this really cute or does it look like something a 47 year-old divorcee would wear to the Jersey Shore? Has my love of animal prints finally made me blind to the fact that this jacket might veer dangerously close to cougar-ville?

What do you think?

J Crew Schoolboy Blazer in Wool Flannel – things I’m loving for Fall/Winter

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it’s COLD y’all. Like, Winter cold. Sure do hope you enjoyed all two days of autumnal weather we had this year because Winter has officially arrived with a vengeance. Given that it looks like we’re facing highs in the mid-50′s from here on out, I decided this past weekend was as good as any to put my Spring and Summer clothes back into storage (i.e. hang them in the guest closets) and move my Fall/Winter wardrobe back to front and center. And as I did so I noticed that – like a lot of you, I’m sure – I own a LOT of dark and not very vibrant Fall and Winter items. A LOT.

So I set out to remedy that – starting with this:

The What:  J Crew Schoolboy Blazer in Wool Flannel

The Price: $91 marked down from $198

And here is where I brag on the AMAHZING deal I got on this adorable blazer. I originally ordered this blazer on sale for $178. Shortly after it arrived I noticed it had been marked down to $130 online. So I took it to J Crew for a price adjustment, which they happily gave me (even though it was outside of the normal price adjustment period – THANKS J CREW!!) – AND they gave me the 30% off sale merch promotion that was currently going on. So my $178 purchase ended up costing me less than $100!!! YAY ME!!!

The Why: Well first of all, there’s the aforementioned drabness of most of my current Winter pieces. This blazer seemed like a perfect way to pep them up without spending a ton of money. And I already knew I liked the cut and fit of this blazer because I bought it in a light gray last year. Throw in the fact that I had a linen blazer in a similar bright blue that I wore the beejesus out of this Spring and Summer and you have a recipe for a purchase I won’t regret.

Here’s are a few ways I am already envisioning working this stunner into my wardrobe rotation:

J Crew Schoolboy Blazer for Work

The How: First up, the obligatory lawyer look. But because I still hate suits, I’m making up my own. A gray tweed skirt reads as classic, not dowdy, when paired with a floral print blouse in similar tones and topped with the vibrant blue blazer. Capped-toe pumps are huge this year and I’m loving this versatile bone and black pair. I kept the jewelry simple so as not to compete with the color, texture and pattern that’s already in the look. And finally, a classic, grown-up work bag.*

*And now here’s where I confess my mother had to literally shame me in public to get me to finally make a big-girl bag purchase. Because I couldn’t find it online and I’m sure you’re just dying to know what it looks like, here’s a pic I took when it arrived:

Super-cool Instagram filter making it look red – in real life it’s closer to the color of the bag in the set above. More money than I’ve ever spent on a bag, ever, but it’s gorge, and I love it, and I’m no longer bringing shame to my family. As always, mother knows best.

Next up,

J Crew Schoolboy Blazer Fridays

The How: Maybe you don’t need a pseudo-suit for work. Maybe you need something that’s office appropriate, but can transition to a fun night out on the town. For a non-court workday to be followed by a night out with the girls, I would pair this blazer with skinny black pants or leggings, add a black and white patterned top, throw on a pair of killer black ankle booties and add one last pop of color with a fun clutch that you could use as a wallet in your big-girl work bag during the day. Instant chicness guaranteed.

And finally,

J Crew Schoolboy Blazer for Weekend

The How: But maybe you don’t need a work look at all. Maybe you need something to wear to a friend’s baby shower, or to have lunch with your boyfriend’s parents/your in-laws when they’re in town. In that case, pair this awesome blazer with a classic pair of dark-rinse, boot-cut jeans (with absolutely NO obnoxious stitching and/or rhinestones on the back pockets – NONE), add a lacy t-shirt, a fun scarf and a pair of sparkly gold flats (those are for you, H!!) and voila! So cute, so put together, SO EASY.

I was excited about my blue blazer before, but now I’m SUPER-PSYCHED to start wearing it ASAP. Even if it does mean coming to terms with turning on the heat at home and breaking out my Uggs. But what do you think about adding a brightly-colored blazer to your Fall/Winter 2012 wardrobe??

This girl could have used our help – a crime of fashion

The date: October 10, 2012

The place: The annual Nashville Scene ‘Best of Nashville’ party

The crime:

The description: Howdy, kids! Thanks for coming back despite my woeful neglect of this blog. But as you can see above, I brought you a gift to make up for my absence in the form of this gem spotted at the Nashville Scene’s ‘Best of Nashville’ party.

Now lest you think this girl was wearing this outfit as some sort of costume because it was a “Nashville” party, I will tell you the theme for this party was actually The Roaring 20′s. But for those who chose not to don their best flapper gear, snappy cazsh was the order of the evening as evidenced by my own really small gang pictured at the same event:

World’s Greatest Sister Wives, from L to R: H, Me, BrHS, B

No, instead of dressing to fit the theme or just dressing to meet the general, socially-accepted standards of appropriate attire, our patriotic friend above chose to wear the very worst in East Nashville hipster chic: ironic thrift store jean jacket, too-tight cut-off denim shorts and tights underneath said shorts. And yes, those tights have a hole in them right beneath her butt cheek. Knowing East Nashville hipsters, this was probably not an accident.*

*Also, it’s hard to see in the blurry iphone (thanks again Apple) pic above, but she was wearing a banana clip in her hair. A banana clip of the giant, 1980′s variety – you know the ones I’m talking about. She might as well have been wearing a scrunchie.  Shudder.

The lesson: Let us not waste time wondering why this party attendee chose to thumb her nose at the rest of us by looking like a crazed fashion refugee from 1983. Let us instead learn from her by all solemnly vowing not to repeat her mistakes at our next social event. Or anywhere, ever.


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