Sunday, November 30, 2008

That Model Look

Photo Credit: Jak & Jil Blog

Photo Credit: The Sartorialist
I've come to recognize that in the world of fashion insiders (models, editors, socialites), simplicity reigns supreme. That chic factor can be broken down into several key components--all very imitable:
1. Wear a lot of black, mainly on one's legs. Choose skinny jeans, tights, or leggings to elongate one's figure.
2. Always choose the most stylish (edgy or sophisticated) pair of pumps, sandals, flats, or boots that you can find. Heels instantly elevate the look.
3. Choose a simple color palette, and narrow your color choices to no more than three complimentary shades.
4. Carry a high fashion bag. Invest in only one if that is all you can afford.
5. Buy a black leather biker jacket or a well-tailored black jacket to throw over everything.
In short, the uniform is quite simple: dark tights/pants; fitted jacket; a statement bag and shoes. For variety, exchange the pants for a skirt or dress (to the knee or above for everyday), or exchange the jacket for a cardigan.
If you examine the photos of chic women, you'll notice that three general principles apply: 1) Simplicity (what I've spelled out above); 2) Fit (the clothes always fit the body perfectly); 3) Proportion (Tim Gunn talks about the rule of thirds; the head to the waist is one third, the waist to the knees is another third, and the knees to the feet is the last third. Make sure your body is split in thirds, not in halves, for the most flattering look).
While it is preferable to invest in the best quality items you can, ultimately it's not about price. Dressing simply is what's chic.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sale Madness; Ruby Slippers

Sale season--especially after Thanksgiving--has a Dionysian effect on people. Drastic, desperate sales (I can hardly believe these 70% off sales) transform even the calmest, disinterested shopper into a grabby, hysterical one. Take the manic crowd who trampled over a poor Walmart worker on Black Friday.

Since the economy has taken a nosedive, I've become quite the opposite. I purchase only things that truly have a "soul-stirring" effect, to quote Tim Gunn. As I was navigating through the overcrowded stores and streets today, I found myself quite bored by the plethora of stock on the shelves. Nothing really stood out--nothing, that is, until I came across the most divinely sequined ruby red Mary Janes from Miu Miu. My heart leaped; my eyes dazzled. The Wizard of Oz is a classic favorite of mine, and for years I have searched in vain for a modern version of those ruby slippers Dorothy wore on the yellow-brick road. Saks recently displayed various versions of the slippers from famous shoe designers, but even those were too fantastic to be worn (as I mentioned previously, I cannot wear five inch heels). Besides, they weren't purchasable. But these--these were flats! And on sale! Perhaps I had been too harsh on Miuccia Prada; perhaps the shoe gods were blessing me; perhaps a shoe dream really does come true.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't Walk A Mile In These (Prada) Shoes

I came across the first photo in the most current issue of WWD (Women's Wear Daily), and the Sartorialist recently posted this image as well (that's his gentlemanly hand offering assistance on the right). Out of curiosity, I went to YouTube to see for myself what happened on Prada's Spring Runway show. Instead of the fearless struts we are accustomed to, I witnessed the painful, stunted wobbles of these normally graceful models. The poor girl above finally--and defiantly--took these stilts off after several treacherous slips.

Although the Sartorialist pointed out that the socks the girls wore were to blame (which I admit is partially true), I'm aghast at the higher and higher heights shoes these days are scaling. Are we women actually expected to wear 5-6 inch shoes? (My limit is 3.) Someone on the Sartorialist's blog likened this trend to foot binding in China, and I completely agree. To some extent, "women must labor to be beautiful," but when danger and pain are involved, I draw the line. Two-to-three-inch heels can empower a woman; five-to-six-inch heels can only impair a woman. It's unfortunate that Miuccia Prada, of all people, couldn't see this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Luxury Is A Dirty Word"

In last Friday's New York Times "Fashion and Style" section, reporter Alex Williams made a bevy of dismal analogies about the end of the "luxe" era of living: “ 'Luxe' is starting to look as out of fashion as square-toed shoes," "bejeweled fashionistas are pegged as tone-deaf Marie Antoinettes," and "roast chicken will be very popular." The incessant droning of "recession" and "depression" has now shaped the new trend: "no-frills consumption."

While I certainly sympathize with the plight of many who have witnessed first hand the instability of the market, I also furrow my brow and shake my head at those who are quick to judge anyone who appears to exemplify outward wealth or luxury. After all, one never knows how much another actually spends on an item (consignment store? sample sale?). Poor and rich alike should not feel shame for their financial status, nor should a hard-working individual feel excessive guilt when indulging in a well-deserved treat. And while we've certainly progressed in many ways beyond the rigid frigidity of our Puritan roots, we also still mimic that draconian finger-pointing when morality gets hopelessly mixed in with money.

For me, it's not about the demonization of luxury or the revision of a national trend; it's about Suze Orman's simple but revealing question: "Can you afford it?" The biggest lesson to learn from this fiscal crisis is to reconsider how we spend our money, not what we spend it on.

To read "In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants," go to

Friday, November 14, 2008

LBD= Little Blue Dress

Tracy Reese Embellished Strapless Wool Dress, $400 at Eluxury

Although the cliche is true--"you can never go wrong with a little black dress"--I personally find it somewhat predicable. I tend to avoid black dresses unless they have a unique texture or flattering silhouette. Blue dresses, however, offer a slight twist on the standard LBD, and this one by Tracy Reese works for day (with a gray jacket or cardigan) or night (with a clutch and glittery heels). The silver sequins along the bustline add shape and interest to a well-cut dress--perfect for that holiday party you're attending next month.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Autumn and Winter Florals

Burberry Prorsum Floral Embroidered Skirt, $1,595 at Net-a-porter

Lela Rose Flower Overlay Skirt, $750 at Bergdorf Goodman
After my curmudgeonly posts the other day, I felt compelled to share two insanely gorgeous skirts from the incoming Resort lines at Burberry and Lela Rose, two of my favorite designers. Designers tend to produce less gimmicky yet on trend items for their Resort collections, and these two skirts feature heavier florals appropriate for the cool fall and winter months. The first one by Burberry reminds me of fallen leaves in Central Park on a crisp fall day, and its peachy-gray sheen has a magical, storybook quality to it. (I haven't felt this skirt, but I imagine it has a slight crinkle to it--one that whispers back at every touch like crunchy leaves under one's feet.) And the Lela Rose. She is the master of the floral overlay (I have a gorgeous white applique sleeveless blouse of hers), and the dark moodiness of this skirt anchors its sweetness. They're both just the thing to wear on a chilly, dark, "California dreamin'" day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Logo-Friendly Has Replaced Eco-Friendly at Chanel

After the advent of eco-conscious bags (Anya Hindmarch's "I'm not a plastic bag" skyrocketed that trend), it became cool to sport a reusable tote in lieu of a plastic bag. Chanel's "Essential Handbag" almost looks like a reusable shopping bag with its ginormous logo and store location emblazoned on the front--almost, that is, until you realize that this tacky bag is made of leather and therefore pokes fun at all of the environmentally conscious people out there who actually care about using vegan, organic, and eco-friendly products. Shame on you, Karl Lagerfeld!

Child's Play

Bottega Veneta Small Toggle Leather Tote, $1,850 at Net-a-porter

For 95% of the time, Tomas Maier can do no wrong; for the other 5% of the time, his playful creativity borders on childishness. The above tote incurs my wrath for two reasons: 1) It looks like an embarrassing Longchamp knock-off; 2) It looks like it belongs to a seven year old. I must confess that I abhor anything rainbow-colored (it always looks juvenile and messy to me), and I am tempted to snip off the colorful leather balls with a methodical fury akin to my attacks on grammatical errors.

Kimora Lee Simmons' all too cutesy "Hello Kitty" line also grates on my last nerve. (I admit that despite my childhood love of stickers, I was more of a tomboy than a girly girl, mainly because I grew up with two brothers.) The "glam" versions, often encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones, retail for very adult prices (the pendant on the left is worth $7,500). The thought of a grown woman wearing these ridiculous pendants has me shrugging my figurative shoulders.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cocoon Jackets: A Throwback To The Eighties

Miu Miu Cropped Cocoon Jacket, $1,180

Fendi Cropped Collarless Jacket, $1, 180

Two weeks ago on Gossip Girl, Lily Bass, Serena's oft-espoused mother, wore a black cocoon-shaped Fendi dress, and I remember thinking that the shape made her look old and dated (even though I knew that the Fendi dress was au courant). Seeing these two cocoon jackets recently on Net-a-porter confirms that instinctual suspicion: they remind me of big-haired, shoulder-pad-wearing Eighties women a la Melanie Griffin in Working Girl. And if I must tell the fashion truth, they also remind me of a certain vice-presidential candidate I recently bashed.
The Eighties were the most miserable fashion era to date. And while other decades and times somehow used exaggerated shapes as intriguing aesthetic concepts (the hoop-skirt as erotic fetish, the bell-bottom as political counterculture), the Eighties used enlarged shapes as garish examples of hyperbole and caricature. The big shoulder was synonymous with newfound feminine power, but it had to be large and masculine to be noticed.
While these looks certainly tone down the football shoulders of yesterday, I still cringe at the overt reminders of a time when women's presence in the boardroom required literal as well as figurative enlargement. Today, women can be feminine without compromising their toughness or others' respect. Thankfully, we don't have to look like a football to kick one.