Hot or Not? Draped jersey dress from Surface2Air

Surface2Air is another one of those impeccably easy-breezy French labels (like the absurd A.P.C.) that I feel like I should love.  I mean, Garance Dore herself swoons over it.  Surely if such elegant tastemakers endorse the company, then I should too, right?

As such, I came * thisclose * to ordering this dress tonight.  $69, from $150.  And I have my mom to thank for bringing my daffy head back down to earth (see below for our IM convo).

memom, are you still there?  what do you think of this dress: [link to]
me: i like it
KhoonI saw only the blue dress   that is ugly do U mean this blue one  or else
me: the blue one.
me: why is it ugly? i like it.
Khoon: it is ugle & wiere too  Not good @ all

In the end, it was the "wiere" backside of the dress that really made me scratch my head.

I really don't get why everyone is so darn obsessed with A.P.C. (the French label)

I mean seriously, people.

Case in point: the girl who produces Camp Comfort, along with every single person in The Laws of General Economy community, they all seem to worship heartily at the alter of A.P.C. On Economy, if something gets posted for sale and it says A.P.C on the label, it's done for.  Girls trip over themselves to get a piece of the action like wolves tearing the last morsels of flesh off a downed caribou. I swear.

Disclaimers: 1) I do enjoy the down-to-earth style of Camp Comfort most of the time, 2) I am a rabid/avid follower of Economy and have bought two pretty cool items, and 3) I never owned a piece from A.P.C. and can't vouch for its quality or fit. But A.P.C., though exercising beautifully French restraint and looking mighty comfy, feels like little more than absurdly overpriced basics that you could otherwise get from Gap, or Banana, or J. Crew.  Observe:
Now, what makes it okay to spend $230 on a pair of overalls?  Is the cotton woven from the dried saliva of endangered Amazonian vampire bats?  Golden droplets of fairy-tears?  Tailbones of Ethiopian orphan babies?  I admit there are a few pieces in their new Spring 2010 collection that are lovely, like a few of the tops and dresses.  But there are other pieces that are downright grungy looking, and all I have to do is dig through my childhood closet to achieve that kind of look, thankyouverymuch.

Seeing the kinds of pieces that sell like hotcakes on Economy makes me think that people are indiscriminately and rabidly obsessed with the label without really evaluating the pieces individually for integrity and style.  I don't care what you say or who made it, I won't be duped into buying an ugly, expensive parka just because some fancy French label told me it was cool.


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: