Monday, September 29, 2008

How The Economic Downtown Will Affect My Shopping

Today at lunch I was asked by a colleague about how frequently I shop. I must admit: I inwardly cringed. I hate being asked about my shopping purchases; too many assumptions are made. I honestly responded that I do not shop that frequently--I constantly browse, but I do not shop every week (by "shop" I mean purchase). And despite the size of my wardrobe, 95% of it consists of items acquired by a slow, methodical, and shrewd process built over several years. In fact, I've become more picky about my purchases because a) my eye has become more discriminating; b) my closet simply won't allow it; c) it's not wise to overspend and overstuff each season.

As of now, the economic downtown has not hit my wallet, but I must admit that it has me re-evaluating my shopping habits. What, pray tell, will it change?

1. They Work Hard For My Money: I will no longer buy anything from a department store without an added perk thrown in. Last weekend, Saks gave away a Theory scarf (plaid is not my thing) with a $450 purchase; now it is giving its customers gift cards for spending a certain amount. Nordstrom was giving away a zebra-striped Versace ring with a certain spent amount. Beauty events are a given for every department store. In short: stores will have to work harder for their customers.

2. Sales Will Be My Friend. Yes, I've always been a sale shopper, but I must admit that when I want something badly enough, I will purchase it full price. But for most items, I will wait with baited breath until Black Friday.

3. How Low Will You Go? I recently spotted a student who wore a pair of killer skinny jeans that fit her like a glove. I had to ask. Turns out they were from Forever 21--who knew? (I must admit: I never go into that store. Now I may.)

4. You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks. I will wear old items in new ways. It's amazing how an item can look completely different with new accessories and some creativity. I often look at the Sartorialist's blog for ideas. For example, I have a tuxedo jacket that has been lying dormant for years in the back of my closet. Now it's time to resurrect it--with a mini or skinny jeans and a large statement necklace.

5. Choosy Shoppers Invest. As I mentioned before, I am less likely to buy something on a whim. I must have an exact need or reason to purchase something. If it doesn't automatically fit in with the rest of my items, I won't buy it. If I have to think hard about how to wear it, I won't buy it. If it doesn't fit me to a tee, I won't buy it. If it's something I could get sick of, I won't buy it. Keeping a rigid list helps you buy only what you absolutely want and need.

6. Love, Not Like. I must absolutely adore the item; it must give me joy; it must make working more exuberant.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Heart Versace

Donatella's spring 2009 Versace collection surpassed even her adorable fall 2008 collection in wit, craftsmanship, and beauty. It seemed hardly recognizable from the "Showgirls" days (remember when Elizabeth Berkley's character mispronounces Versace with two syllables instead of three?) of skintight, scandalous dresses. Instead, the entire line was a refreshing wonder to behold. Three-dimensional hearts made out of zippers; crisp, pristine python dresses; chunky rings and cuffs shaped like bulbous hearts; sinuous folds on impeccably-tailored dresses all scream out to be lovingly worn and collected.

Some of my favorite looks:
1. This white python dress looks gorgeous from afar...

...but astounding from close-up:

2. A perfect white cocktail dress with discrete, diagonal zippers:

3. Here's another one with a large heart made entirely of zippers:

A close-up of said zippers:

4. If hearts don't strike your fancy, how about ribboned loops?

5. I adore the gentle folds on this beige beauty:

6. Donatella's prowess extends to shoes. The crystal-embellished heel glams up the effect on the white hot python skin:

7. Her bags are drool-worthy too. I can't decide which one I like better, the gold or the white:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prada Spring 2009: Masters Can Be Morons

Although I feel somewhat like a traitor when I say this, I must admit that I look forward to Milan's Fashion Week the most. Burberry Prorsum (I've always found it odd that they never show in London), Bottega Veneta, Prada, Alberta Ferretti...these designers are, without fail, the creme de la creme of the fashion world. Every season, I purchase something from Prada (this season it was the lace skirt, and last season it was the fairy platforms), but after purveying the incredibly disappointing spring runway show, I regret to say that there was nothing that captured my hitherto eager attention. And if I can be so bold, I have to say that this collection was the worst I've ever seen from Prada. Messy, sloppy pairings; wrinkled nylon; stiff, overdone chignons; exposed bras; odd black stripes randomly placed on one side; rain parkas draped over boxers--various incarnations of these hideous details left me figuratively scratching my head. Excuse my French, but what the f&*%?!

Here are some of the worst looks. Look if you can bear it.

1. This dress actually had potential, but that nasty shredded black stripe down the right side ruins it from ever being wearable:

2. Another black-striped monstrosity, but this time there are unexplainable sea creatures frolicking on the side:

3. Dowdy, ill-fitting sweater, a shredded top layer over boy shorts? There are no excuses for something this terrible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Fundamentals of Fashion Are Still Strong

Gianfranco Ferre Spring 2009

To borrow a gross misstatement by a certain presidential candidate, I must say that New York's Fashion Week dished out optimism like it was all we were feeding on these days. And as I sit here, sick with some super virus on steroids, I must admit: the review was glowing. Designers narrowed their foci on truly delectable fashion for the truly discriminating fashionista. If New York is the heart of Fashion, then Milan is its Soul, reinspiring us to believe that despite all of the panic on Wall Street, at least we can turn to Fashion to escape, redefine, and reward.

Gianfranco Ferre's Spring 2009 line was a complete and utter triumph; since Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi of 6267 took over the reins, I have a newfound passion for the once dull line. In a way, they turned to the fundamentals of fashion: architecture, in its exacting, primitive shapes; color, in its purest forms; and innovation, in its most curious, all came together to challenge what we have defined as the modern suit or dress.

1. Perhaps it's the Star Trek lover in me, but I simply adore the waxen plastic-y sheen, the defined shapes, and the wearability of this modern-day power suit:

2. The simple shift gets updated with a smattering of plastic beads in an unexpected place:

3. The skirt reminds me of a proper dinner napkin, and the full black blouse compliments the peek-a-boo black slivers in the skirt:

4. The origami folds on this white wonder leave me speechless:

5. A delicate, strong, feminine, and mesmerizing cocktail dress:

6. This dress is a cross between Marilyn Monroe and the Chrysler Building:

Moschino Cheap and Chic's Spring 2009 line was less concerned with structure and more concerned with ease and carefree times. While most of it did not appeal to my fashion aesthetic, I did appreciate two looks in particular:
1. This simple yet flirty dress would be perfect for a high-end picnic, complete with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries:

2. I suppose this designer is not tired of lace; it looked positively fresh in this gray dress:

3. This last look is too hippie for me (it reminds me of a psychedelic Smurf), but it represents the optimism I spoke of earlier:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It Slipped My Mind: The Decline of The Slip

Todd Lynn Spring 2009 Runway

Slips were once considered a necessary undergarment, much like a bra or a pair of panties. At lunch today, a co-worker retold a shocking story about a teenager who came to school dressed in nothing other than a lacy slip (she claimed it was a "dress"). Someone coolly remarked, "She probably doesn't even know what a slip is." Another demanded, "Does anybody even wear a slip anymore?"

Oddly enough, I was wearing a slip under my Zac Posen cut-out skirt (it would be quite scandalous without one). It was not a slip I purchased separately, but one that came with my Prada lace skirt--one of the only "designer" pieces I own that came with a separate, detached slip. Other than a few sheer dresses, clothing today usually comes unlined and unslipped (to make up a word). Designers also have no problem sending a model down a runway with transparent clothing, a small detail that is excusable so long as a beautiful woman's assets are revealed.

The au courant thing is to wear Spanx, leggings, or opaque tights under a see-through or snug dress, but I prefer a standard nude silk slip under looser garments as a less restricting option. And while slips may seem old-fashioned and cumbersome to some, I enjoy the smoothness a silk slip provides as I sashay down the halls. At the very least, it removes the itchy chafing that comes from the absence of lining.

Monday, September 15, 2008

London Fashion Week: Graeme Black

When I think of Graeme Black, one adjective floats to the surface: pristine. His work has a metaphorically pure, clean quality to it, and even when he's experimenting with architectural lines and avant-garde silhouettes, his clothes retain that unfettered, pared-down look that is both refined and modern. While some of his loose dresses (unfortunately unbelted) seemed out of place, the actual fabric and color choices still resembled his more crisp looks.

1. Work Wear: These two suits are definitely for the more creative offices out there--there's a kind of space-agey quality to them. I'm mad about the peplum top on the first and the rounded collar on the second jacket:

2. Killer Day Looks: Even though the looks themselves are somewhat complicated, there's a harmonious unity to them that make them seem effortless. The large wooden necklace is a surprise addition to the all-gray outfit, and I am simply pining after the metallic leather jacket (it reminds me of a Prada jacket I saw recently--silver metallic, ruffled peplum, perfection):

I usually hate cropped pants, but this one looks so right with the jacket and blouse:

Ruffled skirts are starting to grow on me:

3. Avant-garde/Dressy: Black still manages to explore some non-traditional looks in his collection. While I'm fascinated by the first dress (the ruffles look fierce, not dainty), it looks hard to sit in. The second one reminds me of a water nymph:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jean Therapy?

MiH Oslo Slim Leg Jeans, $235 at Net-a-porter

Although I have never been one of those girls who hates shopping, I do absolutely abhor shopping for these three items: jeans, bras, and bathing suits. The latter two highlight bodily imperfections (either real or imaginary), and the first one mainly stems from my traumatic jeans-shopping experiences.

I will admit: I've been more of a dress than a jeans girl; most jeans simply do not look flattering on me (I have a larger bottom than top). I detest trying to squeeze into sausage-like low-rise jeans that threaten to cleave at any turn. Case in point: my beloved Rock and Republic skinny jeans failed me (thankfully I was wearing a large tunic on top), and I have been bereft ever since.

Apparently, it's nearly impossible to find "high-rise skinny jeans in a dark blue wash" at Saks and Bergdorf's (Bergdorf's has an embarrassingly small jeans department). (I did have high hopes for J.Brand, but somehow they didn't look quite right.) Barneys, which has a more extensive jeans section, was more helpful. I found these MiH (Made in Heaven) jeans, and they actually look flattering. I settled for a larger-sized pair of mid-rise jeans, and all I have to do now is to take them to the tailor's to be hemmed.

Today I had a peek into the mindset of a shopping-phobe, and thankfully a kind saleslady made that experience less terrifying.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tough Love: Givenchy & Leather Leggings

I've been thinking about a shift in my standard look, and perhaps Stella from Project Runway has made more of an impact on my aesthetic than I had anticipated. I had officially retired my leath-uh jacket (it's too classic, anyway), but a loosely structured, dramatic biker jacket is the must-have of the season. And now, I'm even considering the newly hot leather leggings that made such a dramatic appearance at Givenchy's smoking fall collection.

Of course, I say this with some serious considerations. (A distant memory of myself dressed up as Storm from X-Men for Halloween haunts me...memories of hot, sticky, uncomfortable leather.) If I were to somehow get past the inconvenience of wearing tight leather, could I even pull it off? I mean, I'm the "girly girl," which means I live in dresses and skirts. Black leather leggings? I suppose I could girlify them by pairing them with a crisp, white, ruffled blouse, or I could just wear them with stilettos and multiple chains--but then, I may feel like I was reliving the awkward Storm impersonation. I suppose I'll stick to the leather jacket for now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

NY Fashion Week: Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese is one "5th floor" designer (Bergdorf and Saks relegate their contemporary lines, aka cheaper lines, to the 5th floor) whose work never compromises on quality and design. Her Spring 2009 line incorporated floral motifs that took form in tulip skirts (pun intended), chic strapless dresses, and investment-worthy trench coats--all drool worthy for the girly fashionista. My favorite looks:

1. Orange is one color that must be done absolutely right, or you end up looking like a pumpkin that's too frumpy even for a fairy godmother. This strapless one is done just right, with a fresh and delicate Asian floral pattern:

2. This pewter trench is perhaps perfect in design: the large soft rounded collar makes an impact while the subtle metallic color keeps the tested classic fresh:

3. While this statement coat is better suited for a mature woman, it can easily be used in lieu of a cocktail gown:

4. My must-have of the entire collection, this dainty frock is heavenly!

5. For all purple lovers out there, here is yet another cocktail dress that must be yours come spring:

NY Fashion Week: Lela Rose

One of my favorite designers, Lela Rose, has done it again. Every season, I always purchase at least one of her sumptuous frocks--I can't seem to live without them! Here are my absolute favorites:

1. I don't care that this is a "cocktail" look; I'd wear this day or night:

2. This dress is fit for an Indian princess:

3. Lela Rose is a master of the sweet girl look, and this dress and cardigan capture that perfectly:

4. Somehow, Lela Rose is able to mix sporty with the feminine, and this lush jacket is so casually chic:

NY Fashion Week: Herve Leger by Max Azria

While I've never cared for the bandage dress (I believe it's only flattering on super-skinny women), I am a huge fan of anything Max Azria, and his Spring 2009 line managed to impress even me. Although there were the typical oversexed looks--the bathing suits at the end in particular were scandalous--, some of his looks were softer and prettier than usual.

1. The hypnotic lines on this sunny yellow shift are working their magic:

2. The print on this one is intriguing enough for me to overlook my non-print tendency:

3. A suit?! And it's wearable to the office!

4. I've grown to appreciate my preppy roots, and this nautical look appeals to my architectural side: