Fashion Friday: Skirts/Dresses with Pockets

Being the practical girl that I am, I think dresses and skirts with pockets are just brilliant.  I am certainly not the first girl to think this, and I hope I won't be the last.  

Pockets on skirts and dresses instantly take the edge off a piece of clothing, they have a way of making themselves incredibly useful, they make your handbag optional, and you look extra jaunty swinging down the street with your hands in them!

These examples prove that practicality need not be dowdy.  What's not to love?

  • Pockets on dresses used to be common, a thing of necessity.  At what point did someone decide to do away with pockets on dresses?

Fashion Friday: Whatever happened to World According to Jess?

Yes, more bags.  I remember this label being huge about 5-7 years ago, though I can't recall where I first heard of it.  Back then, there were a few pieces in her line I thought were adorable, fun and playful, but a bit too much to pay for vinyl.  Curious, I checked back to see if she had anything new going on.

I was surprised to see that there were pretty much no new items added in the last few years, and every item is on sale.  When I saw the prices though, I was shocked.  $30 for what used to be a $200 weekend bag?  You can bet I'm going to snap me up a couple, but more than that, I wonder what ever happened to the designer.  Did she give up?  Move on?  Decide to focus on being a new mommy? Why didn't she ever release new designs? 

So mysterious.  Anyway, there aren't many left - check them out on the World According to Jess website.

A Fashion Good Friday: The French say, "We're afraid NOT to wear black."

After a couple days of deep rumination, I think I've cracked the secret to French street style.  Oh yes, everyone knows French women pretty much invented chic, and that they live and breathe fashion the way ordinary human beings have to eat food just to survive.  Everyone knows they don't get fat. And everything they do, from walking down the street to buying bread to smoking a cigarette, oozes elegance.  

I'm no francophile--too biased after studying German for 5 years.  I mean, I enjoy croissants and duck confit as much as the next girl but I'll be darned if I think a French accent is sexy on anyone (except Vincent Perez, who probably isn't even French...right, he's Swiss-German and Spanish).  But I gotta admit, them Frenchies sure knows how to dress.

There are a number of articles, blogs, etc. out there devoted to that certain je ne sais quoi that makes Parisian street style so maddeningly alluring.  After going through reams of photos online, I think I've got it: the French wear a whole lot of black.  

When I announced this to Garry, he was unimpressed: "You mean like New Yorkers or interactive designers wear black?"

No. Yeah, New Yorkers (and Bostonians, and Londoners) wear a ton of black, but it's a serious black, with sharp edges and a no-nonsense kind of matter-of-course-ness.  It restrains rather than liberates.  No, the color black in France seems more essential, more necessary, like a lifeline or a child's security blanket.  It even becomes warm, playful and easy-going.  Interesting, non?

Of course there are other elements that seem to comprise the French style:
  • An "undone" or even underdone quality: One thing I notice is that American fashion is incredibly over-accessorized.  Just look at that recurring section in InStyle where they put together outfits that are supposed to go with different kinds of outings/occasions.  Bangles, earrings, necklaces, sunglasses, watches, etc etc etc.  Geez, man.
  • Ease: They never seem to think too hard about it.  With the exception of skinny jeans, they seem to prefer flowy and organic shapes comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Proportion & fit:  Classic cuts, and everything judiciously edited, perfectly balanced, as if the outfit was grown on your body.
  • Color: Mostly neutral, ranging from black, tan, gray, navy, and hunter green.
  • Quality: Fine fabrics, well-shaped silhouettes, good stitching, lovely details.
  • Thinness: I was serious.  I don't think French women would look nearly as good if they were as fat as Americans.
  • Something unexpected: There is usually some small flourish that makes you look twice, either a pop of color or an interesting embellishment.
Essential elements
  • BangsYes, hair always looks perfectly mussed, left long and loose.  
  • Minimal makeup, perfect skin: Eyes are lined, smoky, or plain.  Lips nude or classic red.
  • Black tights: Seriously, it's like every woman in Paris owns about 5 pairs.
  • A luxurious handbag and/or a beautiful scarf: That's all the accessorizing they need.
  • Fantastic shoes: They really pay attention to shoes and use them to make a statement.
For more inspiration, check out this blog I'm newly in love with from Garance Dore, a French fashion photographer.  Miles and miles of impossibly chic and effortless-looking style.

Thanks to:

Fashion Friday: Dresses of Plaid

Taking a cue from Annie's series of dresses, I thought I'd share the one trend that's really gotten under my skin--silk tartan gowns.  Not your usual frumpy plaid flannel stuff!  These offerings by Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and others are cheeky, irreverent and unexpectedly gorgeous (I think).  I like how flowy they are in silk, and how the loud, distracting pattern doesn't quite mask the gorgeous structure of the dresses.  I wish I could make one for myself this holiday season.

Fashion Friday, part 2: My mom weighs in (of course)

From: my mom
Date: Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 5:18 AM
Subject: commence about the jacket
To: me

Dearest Tami !!!
I think is pretty cute, will make U look light, with some kind of classic taste
although is not the best,but it look more than O.K., but 've some doubt it is the very good buy
@ the moment that a lots of these department stores are really really SLASHING their prices to fight to get people
to shop @ their stores for the holidays, I don't want U to too RUSH to get it, except, only when U really really LIKE IT SO MUCHHHHHHHHH
HOW ABOUT THE MATERIAL ?  Dose it 've good quality EXPENSIVE LOOK ??
from the pictures I cann't really tell about the color, did U put it on @ day time with the good light & See Carefully, & see is the color look Fresh
& new Not DULL & OLD, then see is color O.K. on U
then decide , if  U are not sure or 100 % really like, then the answer is NO NO NO
do not buy it just because U afraid U are losing a good chance or a deal, that is not right
the condition out there is so bad , they even said, who ever 've the money on hand is a KING right now
all those car dealers have mountain high piles of cars on the lots that they cannot sell, slashing prices too.........,.... on & on
so no reason to RUSH SHOPPING & BUY
Love U

A second helping of Fashion Friday

DISCLAIMER: This entry's gonna make me sound like a hopeless girl drowning in her own vanity.  Straight males and girls who have better things to think about, feel free to move right along.

I have a confession to make this Friday evenin'.  After a few months living with the Paiges I bought at Century 21 (NYC's best kept secret), I realize I love them.  Now, one thing that frustrates me about peoples' obsession with premium denim is that I've rarely heard anyone who was able to articulate a) exactly what makes them different from the regular store-bought variety, and b) why they were worth the absurd price.  Because of this, I always assumed they were brand whores interested mostly in the status they were buying, deluding themselves into thinking they were paying for higher quality or better fit, and collecting designer jeans like some people collect broken hearts.  I don't care what you say, 8+ pairs of $150-$200 jeans in anyone's closet is absurd.

That said, I am considering investing in another 1 or 2 pairs.  And I'm going to try to articulate my reasons in an attempt to show it isn't really the status I'm buying or just another excuse to show off.  Feel free to let me know if I'm only kidding myself.

1) I refuse to pay more than about half off retail for these jeans.  I think my current upper limit is about $100, which when you think of it is not that much more than a pair of full-priced jeans at your usual BR or Express (though it is a far cry from my grubby $23 Gap jeans).

2) They make me feel more polished and grown up.  I think it's the tailoring that makes them decidedly un-grubby, and the slight heft, the weight of the fabric does a good job keeping my fatty little pooch in check (all that food comes at a price, eh?).  I guess you could say it buys me a little bit of confidence.  Which is what true fashion is about, in my humble opinion--some combination of self-expression and aspiration.

3) Butt pocket designs.  I'm sure 75% of the reason I love my Paige jeans so much is the gorgeous embroidery on the butt pockets.  They are a delightful surprise every time I catch them peeking out in the mirror, and they instantly elevate everything else I'm wearing.  When I see designer jeans with plain/bland butt pockets, I can't help but think, "Why bother?"

4) Fit through the thighs.  It's pretty inevitable that regular jeans, without the added lycra or tailoring, stretch out and sag abominably just under the butt.  I never used to notice it before, but now I see it everywhere, on everyone. One thing I've come to appreciate about my Paiges is their uncanny ability to cling to my butt.  Hah!  I don't think all designer jeans are created equal in this respect--I've really only tried on 1-2 brands so I'm not sure which have mastered it, but I've definitely seen coworkers (my coworkers are all obsessed with premium denim and refuse to wear anything else) wearing designer jeans that also sag abominablyAgain: "Why bother?"

5) A beautiful, confident drape.  See the pictures below.

6) Lovely washes--though many regular denim brands do this just as well.

Anyway.  I decided to educate myself a bit on some of the brands available out there, so I could begin to sort out my preferences.  Here are some ones I particularly liked:
  • AG, or Adriano Goldschmied - shown here are his 'Angel' and 'Legend' styles
  • Antik Denim - kind of risky with its mod-western styling, but I kind of like it
  • Stella Jean by Chip & Pepper - just an all around classic shape
  • Passion Jean by Goldsign - my favorites after Paige!
  • Standard Glory Jean by Habitual - I like the unique Maltese cross
  • J & Company - they have the most ornate/elaborate pocket design, and yes, I love it.
  • James Jeans - yup, the butt pockets
  • Paige jeans - practically perfect in every way
  • The Bellisima Jean by Rich & Skinny - lovely shape, bratty name
  • Good ole Rock & Republic - showing their Jaguar and Kurt styles.  R&R is definitely overworn though.
  • Classic Dojo Jean from 7 For All Mankind.  Also overworn but still rockin.

Anyone else have favorites they want to recommend?

As a side note, I am really liking the Gilt Groupe's offerings.  It's just barely within the price range I'd be willing to pay for certain items...not cheap (I still have to hem and haw about everything) but not impossible.  In other words, I'm doomed.

Early Fashion Friday: I hope this doesn't make me a 'fashionista'

My very stylish coworker just invited me to join Gilt Groupe (like the wordplay with 'guilt,' not so hot on the unnecessary misspelling of 'group'), an invitation-only site that posts 36-hour sales from top designers at sample-sale prices.  Emphasis on the 'sample sale prices'--who pays retail for anything anymore?

Current sales: Habitual, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kim Seybert, Made Her Think, Alvin Valley, Lorelei, Herve Ledger, Chloe, Temple St. Clair

Let me know if you want an invitation...I get $25 if you join and buy something =D

Fashion Friday, 1 day late: The Look of 'Penelope'

I did a bit more digging into the movie--turns out the masterful cinematography in the movie was the work of the DP for Amelie after all, Michel Amathieu.  I'm proud I was able to spot it.

But what I was really interested in was the costume designer, Jill Taylor.  Turns out most of the pieces, though reminiscent of Anthropologie, were custom made, or at least custom embellished, for the movie.  I thought that was pretty cool--I assumed that most costume designers were just glorified shoppers, and I was hoping I could find out where they had bought that cool coat.  I went through and took screenshots of all the cool outfits Penelope gets to wear throughout the film.  This makes me want to get back into costuming--no money in it, but so much fun!

Fashion Fridays: It's kind of hard out there for a hipster.

Or at least it's getting real expensive.  I get these e-mails from Urban Outfitters occasionally where they try to sell me stuff I don't need.  I really liked the brown Frye boots below.  I clicked through and turns out they are $188.  Um yeah.  Isn't the point of being a hipster that you get all this quirky sh*t for dirt cheap, rummaging through Goodwill or something?  Why does it cost so much money to look 'hip and edgy,' like I'm supposing Urban Outfitters wants us to look?

PS. I am decidedly not a hipster, by the way.

This entry needs a new Day of the Week: Fashion-Forward Fridays

I was trolling Urban to look for other tasty sale items to add to my cart before I checked out (some of the things in there are more than a month old!) when I came across this thing called the "Pocket Bag Belt."  I thought, hey, that doesn't look half bad...and it's useful besides!

But after careful reflection, I realized that I'd been duped by a feat of well-positioned marketing, and that this item is nothing more than a glorified fanny pack.

Observe: the only real difference between the 'stylish' item in the first photo and the unattractive accessory in the second is who is wearing it: one is a thin young woman, the other, a rather heavy-set older man.  Ah, the power of context.

I threw in a third photo of a cute fanny pack that this woman made and blogged about.  At least she had no pretensions and called the thing what it is.