Monday, March 31, 2008
At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I find this look from Chanel gauche in design. "Stars and stripes" will inescapably conjure up images of our founding fathers in wigs and our gallant young soldiers fighting for their freedom from the tyrant King George. And perhaps it is no surprise that we have both a biopic on John Adams and a recent film about Iraq: two opposing views on the issue. Yet this kind of dressing is contrived and reminds me of a young man I once knew who wore Puerto Rican paraphernalia but who never actually lived or went there (nor was fully Puerto Rican). One can do stars in a less overtly political manner, like Stefano Pilati's Spring 2008 Yves Saint Laurent collection, without all of the garishness of wearing one's home country's map. As one who's married to a "foreigner" and who's always found herself surrounded by people of all races, cultures, and nationalities, I find it necessary to be sensitive to the overtures of loud political fashion. Of course, I say all of this as a byproduct of the very freedom that comes from living in this country, and I also am aware of the ironic implications of raising a fashionable eyebrow at those who embrace their freedom of expression.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The insatiable need to have instant access to the daily blog is fueled by several factors: a) fashion is slowly becoming global, not regional; b) fashion is becoming more accessible, not less so (hence the plethora of books about "how luxury lost its luster"); and c) fashion trends move faster, not slower (hence the new existence of four fashion seasons). Cathy Horyn of The New York Times and Diane Pernet both commented on the pleasurable global discourse that blogs provide, and it is this postmodern fusion of cultures that is slowly creating a new kind of fashion and fashionista: one who reads The Sartorialist with the pleasure of examining fashion trends all over the world, and not just in one's backyard. And while fashion can be dictated by region (as in my recent post about Uptown/Downtown styles), one is not fastened down by location any more than a sophisticated traveler would be. Therefore, one sees Hollywood stars dressing both in an Uptown and Downtown manner, depending on mood and situation.
This fluidity--or lack of rules--has created what some call the new "Wild West," in which the authority is no longer just the fashionable experts at big name publications. The fear in this is one's new reliance on a multitude of voices that can often crowd out an insecure inner voice; but through the discourse, the arguments, and the posts, one finds that old Biblical adage to be true: "iron sharpens iron." This unprecedented exchange of voices foreshadows a new age of fashion, which has already embraced high and low as the new ideal in dressing. And now, even museum curators have found a place for blogs in their exhibits (if you haven't already, check out the Met's blog: http://blog.metmuseum.org/blogmode/). The equalizing power of blogs is both the appeal and the result, one that will continue to transform fashion in the years to come.
While I attended the wonderful lecture at the Met about fashion blogging, I couldn't help stare, mesmerized, at Diane Pernet's extravagant and bizarre hairdo, which seemed to me to be a cross between a royal headdress and a circus tent. When Harold Koda jokingly mentioned subtlety (then turning dramatically to Diane Pernet), she did refer to it as her "persona," which both suggests the psychological separation between self and surface and a kind of call to the fictional aspect of fashion: it is, after all, just a tool that one uses to create an identity.
"I am very excited to participate in a panel discussion about fashion and blogging that will be hosted by Harold Koda and the Costume Institute and The Metropolitan Museum of Art this Sunday.Cathy Horyn of the New York Times and Diane Pernet will also be part of the panel.The event is free with admission to the museum. I would love to see some..no...all of you at the event, if possible.The event will be held at: The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Museum on Sunday, March 30, 2008 from 3:00-4:45pm."
As Dorothy said, I'm off to see the wizard of blogging! For those of you who are attending, I'll be the one in the Fendi Ballerina Dress. (No ruby slippers, however.) Come say hi!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Books I’ve read/reread recently:
- Angela’s Ashes
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- The Great Gatsby
- Take copious notes.
- That’s fabulous.
- Get out of town!
Music I like:
- Classical (e.g. Debussy, Mozart)
- Musicals and Operas (e.g. The Phantom of the Opera)
- 80s music (e.g. Chicago)
- My husband, family, and friends
- Designer clothes
- Knee-length boots
- Cream/Lotion (I have painfully dry skin)
What I’d love to do before I expire:
- Write a book
- Raise two healthy, happy, and productive children (preferably a boy and a girl)
- Travel the world (in particular, Asia, Greece, Brazil)
- Colors: predominately black, touch of plaid
- Generic Look: skinny jeans, black booties, hip-slung bag (Chanel or Marc Jacobs), large scarf, motorcycle jacket, large sunglasses
- Celebrity Adherents: The Olsen Twins (who live downtown), Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Kate Bosworth
- Armcandy of Choice: Stunning European males, gay best friends
- Primary Designers: Gucci, Thomas Wylde, under-the-radar designers, Marc Jacobs
- Techniques: Layering, messiness, focus on legs
- Jewelry: Silver/platinum, skulls
- Colors: white, khaki, pastels, black
- Generic Look: fitted jacket, pencil or A-line skirt, tall boots or peep-toe pumps, Hermes or Bottega Veneta bag, trench coat, Hermes scarf
- Celebrity Adherents: Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker
- Armcandy of Choice: Billionaire next door
- Primary Designers: Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Fendi
- Techniques: Tucked-in blouses, belts, limited color palette (monochromatic or two shades), focus on arms and waist, fitted clothing
- Jewelry: Van Cleef and Arpels, Cartier, a big rock, gold
Friday, March 28, 2008
Women rarely wear white pants, and for good reason: they stain easily. However, a pair of crisp white pants can elevate an outfit in a way that few pants can; they look chic, easy, clean, light, and glamorous. The key to wearing white pants is knowing where they'll travel and adhering to certain "flight restrictions": never wear them in the rain, extremely windy weather, or after a rain shower (the water on the ground inevitably jumps onto the back). Also choose ones with lining, wear nude underwear (white underwear shows through mercilessly), and pair with heels. While these numerous restrictions seem cumbersome, remember the versatility that white pants provides: they go with nearly all of your spring clothes (even dark-hued ones); they look perfect with any of the hot "it" shades of the season: yellow, orange, or blue; you can wear them for a number of occasions (work, lunch, dinner); and you stand out in a crowd. Although I've grown to eschew pants in favor of skirts and dresses, I'm determined to purchase a pair of white pants this spring season.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
1. Basics. Jeans, tees, camisoles, underwear, and sweaters fall in this category. The amount you spend on these items depends on whether a) you purchase very few but quality items (e.g. a pair of designer jeans); or b) you purchase several but inexpensive items (e.g. ten tees from American Apparel, or sweaters from J.Crew). Personally, I am of the belief that one should spend only a small percentage of your shopping budget--say, 10%--on basics. Additionally, never spend full price on basics, which always go on sale.
2. Trendy: While I agree with many fashion editors who say that trendy items should be very cheaply bought, one must consider which trends you're following. In fashion, "everything old is new again," and certain trends have historic appeal. Florals, prints, safari, color...these "trends" are actually timeless and will certainly reappear with time. The other important consideration is allowing yourself to satisfy your own fashion aesthetic and not the opinion of some impersonal fashion editor. If you enjoy it, chances are you'll go back to it time and time again. However, if you don't see trendy items as investment pieces, I suggest going to H&M and other inexpensive stores to satisfy your whims. 20-30% of your fashion budget should go to trendy items.
3. Occasion-based: Weddings, parties, galas...Occasion-based shopping is somewhat a hassle, but you must consider how often you attend these events. If major events are a part of your fashion wardrobe, then you've already migrated into #4: Investment shopping. If you shop for these showstoppers once a year, then invest in an item that you can return to years later.
4. Investment: While gowns are certainly investment items, everyday wear can also be high-priced ticket items that have a timeless appeal. If you cannot afford to (or do not want to) purchase items full price, wait until sale season to purchase a few but stunning items. While it may seem absurd to spend 60-70% of your fashion budget on a few items, it is ultimately worth it in the long run. Building a fashionable wardrobe takes time, patience, and strategy. Most women cannot afford to buy everything they want; instead, a slow process of collecting hot items each season will amount to a carefully-edited and stunning wardrobe. Make sure that not all of your investment pieces are occasion-based; choose daytime looks like a detailed dress that works for multiple occasions.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
1. Peter Som's Scalloped Camisole, $795 at shopbop.com: Flirty, seductive, and yet prim, these contrasts produce a modern marvel.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
1. Miu Miu's Lady Harlequin Bubble Tunic, $1,790 at eluxury.com: Creepy, crazy, and circus-y.
2. Fendi's Multi-Circle Dress, $2,480 at eluxury.com: You are getting sleepy...
3. Bottega Veneta's Rope Trim Dress, $1,230 at eluxury.com: A potato sack meets an ugly set of pajamas.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
So it is not flippantly that I declare that each woman's shoe wardrobe reveals an essential part of her person: what she uses to ground herself, to move herself, and to express herself. While these categories are fluid, they are useful defining tools:
The Practical Woman:
WEARS pumps, sneakers, clogs, wedges, flats, or boots
PRIMARY MOTIVE: comfort and/or need (a business woman needs pumps; a doctor needs sneakers)
BRANDS: Manolos, Pumas, Cole Haan, Aerosoles, Christian Louboutin
The Fanciful Woman:
WEARS: platforms, sandals, thigh-or knee-high boots, booties
PRIMARY MOTIVE: aesthetics
BRANDS: Miu Miu, Prada, Chloe, Giuseppe Zanotti, Dolce and Gabbana
The Feminine Woman:
WEARS: peep-toe pumps and sandals, slingbacks, knee-high boots, ballerina flats, Mary Janes
PRIMARY MOTIVE: beauty
BRANDS: Kate Spade, Oscar de la Renta, Pedro Garcia, Prada, Delman
The Rebellious Woman:
WEARS: platforms, stilettos, thigh-high boots, booties
PRIMARY MOTIVE: statements/looking fierce
BRANDS: Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi, Gucci, Chloe
The Conservative Woman:
WEARS: pumps, kitten heels, flats, slingbacks, D'Orsays
PRIMARY MOTIVE: classiness
BRANDS: Tods, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik
Monday, March 17, 2008
1. Befriend a salesperson at each store that you frequent. Establish a relationship that ensures reciprocity; remember that salespeople make commissions, so the more you buy from a person, the more he/she will be likely to secure that item for you.
2. Put your name on the waiting list as soon as you see that item on the runway. Each store receives a limited number of items, and even fewer ones in your size (unfortunately, smaller items sell out faster in New York). Keep in mind that different stores will also buy certain items and may not overlap (Bloomingdale's may carry a dress that Bergdorf won't).
3. If an item is sold out in your local store, ask them to check the inventory on the item in stores across the country. Las Vegas' store may not sell out as fast on winter items, for example. Have them ship that item to you directly.
4. Remember that stores sometimes re-stock. Ask them when the next shipment will arrive, and put your name down on the list. After the initial craze, items can be and usually are replenished.
5. Check with online stores (eluxury and net-a-porter, for example) and email customer service for information on their inventory arrivals. Remember that net-a-porter receives new items on every Wednesday of the week; check early in the morning for hot items. You can also sign up for email alerts when certain items come in.
6. If all else fails, wait a couple of months. Stores slowly restock, and the item may longer be hot, but at least you can eventually own it. Or check with ebay to see if someone is selling that item for a higher price. But beware of fakes.
Despite what fashion editors say, this trend maximizes everything but you. And while I am not dismissing its value for regal galas, I am questioning the practicality of constantly dusting the floor every time you walk on the city streets or of drastically altering this item to suit the average woman (frankly, it's ridiculous to presume that we are all 5'11"). This particular dress, with its heinous print, makes this model look more like a circus performer on stilts (is it me, or does she look like a never ending statue?) than a casual bohemian vacationing in Hawaii. If you want casual, buy a mini; if you want respectable cocktail, buy a knee-length; if you want uber-dressy, buy a maxi. In my humble opinion, casual maxi is an oxymoron I'd rather do without.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
1. Fendi's Runway Origami Blouse: This beauty doubles as a jacket and cries out to be worn with a belt. It also touches upon a major spring trend without looking dated years later. $995.
2. Mayle's Rocio Silk Top: I adore the sailor-girl influence, but this beauty can be worn underneath a work-appropriate jacket or on its own on the weekend. The nipped-in waist and longer length are also flattering to many. $425.
4. Catherine Malandrino's Ruffle Poplin Blouse: A more feminine version of the classic we love, this top is perfect with a floral skirt. $245.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
This process was a long time in the making: I grew up wearing uniforms for school--an external branding of my identity as a prep school student. For years, I wore baggy clothes (usually plaid), imitated my mother's hairstyle (a bob, no bangs), and wore penny loafers (always brown) for lack of creativity. It wasn't until my study abroad trip to London that I learned to wear clothes that actual fit me; after all, I was a stranger in a strange land, but it forced me to examine myself without the traditional comforts of an imposed identity (daughter of ---, friend of ----, student of -----).
Today, I embrace the woman that I am and comfortable wearing clothes that others may perceive as too dressy/girly/etc. (I've been told that I look like I'm going to a wedding everyday; I've also been told that it's surprising that I "haven't let [myself] go" since I got married.) While determining one's identity is a lifelong challenge, the essential thing is to listen to the self that you are now; and while one doesn't need to look ready for the runway every day, it is also important not to allow yourself to mistake sloppiness for selflessness, or fashion for an undeserved reward. Ultimately, it's not what's on your back so much as your reason for wearing it that is what people see and what defines you.
1. FOR A CREATIVE SUIT / JEAN OUTFIT / EVENING LOOK: Thomas Wylde's Valley of the Kings Silk Jacket, $935 at eluxury.com: The oversized snaps decorate the collar of this chic black jacket and make it a stand out piece. I adore the slightly puffed sleeves, which offsets the hard masculine quality of this expertly tailored jacket.