Watch: The look of HBO's Grey Gardens

If you're like me and don't have premium cable, you may have missed out on the Grey Gardens movie the first time it showed on HBO last year.  I've had it on my Netflix queue for a while, and the dvd finally came, and I finally watched it (after it sat on my coffee table for about a month).  And I was immediately transported into the strange, isolated and decrepit world of Big and Little Edie Beale.  

But beyond the fascinating push-and-pull of the codependent mother-daughter relationship, I was totally taken by the lovely Depression-era fashions sported by Little Edie Beale (Drew Barrymore's character).  Pillbox caps, spunky shorts, curvy sun hats, luxurious little gloves, smart geometric tops and quietly glamorous pencil skirts.  I fell in love with the way costume designer Cat Thomas dressed Drew, paying such close attention to detail, finding ways to layer little things over each other, creating a look that was at once cutting edge and appropriately pressed and tailored.

It doesn't hurt that the period styles fit Drew Barrymore so perfectly.  Learn more about Drew's transformation into Little Edie Beale on her surprisingly eloquent Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross on NPR!  Drew's red-carpet outfit to the Grey Gardens premiere was also stunning:

For Men: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's messenger bag from 500 Days of Summer

Last year I posted about the excellent vintage-style fashion in one of the best romantic comedies of the past year, 500 Days of Summer.  We were especially taken by the "old man chic" worn by Joseph Gordon-Levitt's lovesick character, Tom.  Since we've gotten so much interest from that post, including a ton of questions about JGL's messenger bag in the movie, I thought I'd post a follow-up to let people know where they can buy the bag, or something very similar to it:

I'm close to certain that costume designer Hope Hanafin got Tom's canvas messenger bag from a vintage store, but that doesn't mean stylish men everywhere can't get the same look for a lot less than you'd expect.  Contrary to what people were saying on Yahoo Answers, Tom's bag was NOT from Ben Sherman.  More likely it was one of these vintage styles (I especially love the simple army medic shoulder bag from the Army Navy store - so classic, so practical, and so affordable!):

Katy Perry: Her music's only okay, but I HEART her style.

I know, I know.  Where on earth have I been for the past two years, living under a rock?  Because I can't believe it took me so stupidly long to get around to watching a Katy Perry video. The first few times I heard her songs on the radio, I kind of disliked her voice, her themes, her music in general and was just not interested in finding more about her.

It was seeing glimpses of her video for "Hot n Cold" on DJ Earworm's 2009 United State of Pop that got me intrigued by, of all things, her STYLE.  My friends, I've decided Katy Perry has loads of it (style, that is), and I find her totally adorable.
I've rarely seen anyone pull off such a throwback vintage-y look with a straight face and, as they say, "totally rock it."  In the "Hot n Cold" video, I loved everything from the artful white veil pinned in place by an heirloom rhinestone brooch, to the fantastic convertible wedding gown/romper with the giant bow, to her fabulous strappy belt, to her selection of odd-colored eyeshadows.  I started watching her other videos, and it was interesting to see the evolution (and elaboration) of her style.  Whereas she has just one or two outfits in her first hit single, "I Kissed a Girl," by the time she hits "Waking Up in Vegas" she is rocking something like seven outfits in a single 4-minute song, each one more fabulous and fanciful than the other.  I've taken the liberty of painstakingly screen-capping the heck out of these outfits so you can see what I'm talking about.
Checking out her red carpet looks is pretty entertaining too.  I love how the girl goes from dishwater-blonde contemporary Christian teenager to outrageous brunette super-vamp within the span of a few short years. It's enough to give anyone hope for reinvention.  When I saw her in action, the first thing I thought was, "She's like an EVEN MORE fearless, irresistable and effervescent version of Zooey Deschanel!"  
For public events, she seems to favor a) fruits and other food items, b) animal prints, c) ruffles galore, d) heart-shaped sunglasses, and d) a crapton of cleavage.  I love that she so fearlessly right to the edge of what is acceptable or not, from the outrageous carousel and ice cream cone dresses to the dramatic Viktor & Rolf peachy ball-gown concoction with the giant holes cut into it.

Lessons from the movies: Game-changing dresses.

Sorry for the very long absence, friends!  Life happens, I guess.  

I've been reading this excellent book, Audrey Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh, which is not a straightforward biography of America's most beloved silver screen star.  Rather, it's about the life-changing events, relationships, and personal convictions that went into creating Audrey Hepburn's innovative, singular and influential way of dressing--most notably her lifelong 'style' partnership with the designer Givenchy.

So far I've learned some interesting things that make me respect Audrey more as an individual, even though I haven't really been a fan of most of her movies (I know--gasp.).  Like the fact that from ages 12-16, during WWII, she practically starved and even tried to make bread out of grass.  Or that she spent her entire life yearning for warmth and affection from her rigid mother.

Anyway, I specifically wanted to discuss the one film that really put Audrey on the style map, and made every woman in America want to dress like her.  Most people assume that this film was Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), when in fact, Audrey's moment came much earlier, in 1954, in the original Sabrina.

It was a barely-known Audrey Hepburn that boldly made an appointment with Givenchy and dazzled him with the way she brought his designs to life, then proceeded to select three simple costumes from his 1953 Spring/Summer collection that would change everything:

1) The Glen Cove Suit: Audrey wore this with a simple white turban while waiting at the train station with her luggage and mini poodle.  Dark gray, double-breasted, cinch-waisted, scoop-neck jacket and a simple slim, calf-length skirt.

2) The White Ball Gown (pictured below): For her first party back at the Larrabee mansion, Audrey's character donned a magnificent concoction of silk and embroidery that stunned the Larrabee brothers, and the world.

3) The Denouement Date Dress (pictured below): The truly original Little Black Dress, a good 7 years before the one she wore in Breakfast.  Simple tea-length with boat neck and two sweet bows on her shoulders, it suited her gamine figure perfectly.

Interesting stuff, but what really got me fascinated was thinking of other game-changing style moments in cinematic history, when things changed very tangibly for the character because of what she wore, within the context of the film, or when what she wore changed the way the world, and especially women, viewed themselves and their potential.

I'm thinking specifically about dresses worn at pivotal moments in film, dresses we still think and talk and dream about, to this day.  Dresses that capture our imagination with their own breathless possibility.  Here are some of my favorites...can you think of any others?

1 Sabrina's white Givenchy ball gown. 2 Sabrina's little black dress.  3-4 The gorgeous green silk dress Keira Knightley wore in Atonement. 5-7 Drew Barrymore's Renaissance-style dress and wings in Ever After. 8 The climactic flamenco ball gown in Strictly Ballroom. 9 Anastasia's lovely dark blue opera dress and white gloves. 10 Kate Winslet in beaded finery in Titanic. 11-12 Princess Leia's slave girl chic vs. chaste white gown in Star Wars. 13 Penelope's wedding dress - corset and shredded skirt.  14 Nicole Kidman's satin confection in Moulin Rouge. 15-17 All of Maggie Cheung's gorgeous cheongsam-style dresses in In the Mood for Love. 18 I always had a thing for Maria's lovely, light-as-air frock in The Sound of Music. 19-20 Jennifer Connelly in an over-the-top concoction for Labyrinth. 21-22 Grace Kelly's opening scene dress in Rear Window. 23 Zhang Ziyi's debut in Memoirs of a Geisha. 24 Marilyn Monroe's classic halter in Seven Year Itch. 25-26 Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - love the unusual yellow color.  27 Kim Basinger's cloak in LA Confidential. 28 All of Jennifer Lopez's crazy get-ups in The cell. 29 Dustin Hoffman's sequined wonder in Tootsie. 30 Renee Zelleweger in a super simple little black dress for her first date in Jerry Maguire. 31 THe gloriously over-the-top wedding gown in Coming to America. 32-33 Julia Stiles' simple, striking blue prom dress + red flower in 10 Things I Hate About You. 34 And finally, the magnificent Lauren Bacall.

The Erickson Beamon necklace that Chuck gave Blair in Gossip Girl - on sale at

So I'm not really a diamonds kind of girl (too much controversy/conflict), and I don't know who has this kind of money to throw around, but I was pretty excited to see this necklace on sale at this morning. It's the same necklace Chuck got Blair for her birthday, after the first time they got busy in his limo.

There's only one left and it's $7999 (down from a cool $30K). Exciting.

Introducing a new tag: Sexy-Ugly

So I've decided to add a new tag to our Wearability posts.  Normally this is not cause for a major announcement, but in this case I thought it was sort of funny/interesting and might need a bit of explanation.  "Sexy-ugly" is a term first coined by the movie Kissing Jessica Stein, about this insufferably neurotic bi-curious girl.  The term is used to describe people, as Urban Dictionary notes: "Someone who is not conventionally good-looking (or any kind of good-looking in some cases), but possesses an appealing personality, style, or talent, and is thus considered attractive."

Classically "sexy-ugly" celebrities: Mick Jagger.  Harvey Keitel.  Danny Trejo. Steve Tyler.  Amy Winehouse.  In fact, a LOT of musicians.

I'm going to argue that this term can absolutely apply to fashion, too.  I would define it as something off-beat, with oddball proportions, strange materials, and other elements that defy the usual laws of symmetry and beauty.  But, when worn by just the right person, in just the right way, can convey immense appeal, great style, and general sexiness.

I created the tag because I realize a LOT of the things we blog about here are sexy-ugly!  And I'm not about to stop now!  Here's to many moons of future sexy-ugly blog posts.  Check out the ones from our archive here.

From Kissing Jessica Stein:

Jessica: He just wasn't funny, you know? That's always been my problem, I think. Not smart or not funny. Or not smart AND not funny. Or funny, but in a totally unappealing way like funny stupid or funny dopey, rather than funny witty, or funny ironic or funny goofy. Or, you think they're smart- and then you realize that they're not- and that's funny. But funny tragic. And then, if you're lucky enough to find someone who's the right kind of smart and the right kind of funny, usually they're just... kinda... 
Helen: Ugly? 
Jessica: Ugly, exactly. Oh my god, is that awful? 
Helen: No, not at all. Ugly doesn't do it for you. That's okay. See me, I'm kinda into ugly... But only if it's sexy ugly.
Jessica: Sexy-ugly? Define.
Helen: Okay, well, um...I was gonna say Mick Jagger. He's the big one. Oh, Lyle Lovett, um, James Woods, Harvey Keitel.  Harvey Keitel. He's very sexy-ugly.

Watch: The September Issue

The September Issue tells the story of Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour and her outrageous photo shoots, demands and what it takes to create the biggest issue of the year (2007's issue weighed a full five pounds!).

If you've seen The Devil Wears Prada, get ready for more juiciness - this is the real thing. I'm dying to see this!

The September Issue releases in New York on August 28 and nationwide on September 11.

Imagining Bella's wedding dress

The folks at InStyle approached several designers and asked them to sketch their respective takes on a wedding dress for none other than Bella Swan, the heroine of the Twilight series.  Now, I don't really think any of these really "fit" the character or her fondness for Chuck Taylors, but I do like the dresses by Monique Lhuillier and Christian Siriano (who is only 23 years old!  Good gracious!).  

And, I love fashion illustrations in general - such sweeping lines and impossibly long legs.

Check out the full gallery along with descriptions here.

Man of Style: Taylor Lautner

Before you guys groan or feel a bit old and dirty about it, please hear me out.  I mean, yes, I've become something of a Twilight fangirl, or at least I subscribe to and follow its 10+ updates every day with keen interest.  But seriously.  some time in the past year, I think Taylor Lautner--the fresh-faced, way too young, yet so incredibly and delectably chiseled star of the upcoming Twilight firm--must have gotten himself a stylist in addition to growing up a whole lot.

Because really, what 17-year-old boy knows how to dress himself this well? It only occurred to me rather recently that I've been more and more impressed with Taylor Lautner's ability to look absolutely sharp doing everything from getting the groceries to attending the Teen Choice Awards.  For sure, his affinity for black outerwear can't exactly be called "daring" or "bold," but it's always impeccably tailored, with surprisingly tasteful details that scream TASTE and STYLE and ELEGANCE.

The boy must own about 20 black jackets of all cuts and materials, most of all leather.  Leather bomber jackets, leather motorcycle jackets, even a leather jacket that looks like it's made out of lizard skin.  And lots of jeans - perfectly distressed denim, perfectly faded black jeans, etc.
Some of my favorite elements from the pictures, from left to right:
  • The red-striped collar and cuffs
  • Simple black leather over black t-shirt/pants
  • Beautifully tailored pea coat.  Perhaps Taylor is the only straight guy who can pull of a) a peacoat and b) a popped collar without looking like a total douchebag.  Or maybe you think he looks like a douchebag.  In which case you can keep your thoughts to yourself, thankyouverymuch.
  • Black hoodies on black t-shirt for a decidedly un-frumpy look.
  • Lizard-skin jacket.  'Nuff said.
  • Well-fitted gray shirt over beautifully distressed jeans
  • Waistcoat over beautifully distressed jeans
  • Sharp Calvin Klein collection suit that perfectly suits a high-fashion event
  • Black long coat over black skinny jeans!
  • Black hoodie with all-black Chuck Taylors
  • A dose of black-and-white checks
  • Just the right hint of black-and-white stripes
All photos taken from

Watch: The look of (500) Days of Summer

We just got back from watching Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer, a movie I've been waiting to see for a good five months.  Funny how one can look forward to a movie so much.  It has some of my favorite things all in one--Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and the City of Los Angeles.  Webb, a first-time director, makes downtown LA look downright magical.  He brings out the LA I love even though I haven't actually visited a lot of the locations he used.  But that's a story for another blog post.

What I really want to talk about is the film's style and the yumdellishous clothes Zooey gets to wear throughout..  It reminded me how much I enjoyed costuming for theatrical productions.  Garry commented that this looked like a movie "made by hipsters, for hipsters."  It's kind of true, but it's still noteworthy.  Costume designer Hope Hanafin dresses Joe's character Tom in mostly Old Man Chic--sweater vests and puce-colored cardigans over a tie and button down shirt, funky corduroys, messenger bags.  Zooey's character Summer gets to wear a parade of 50s-inspired secretary blouses, ruffle-paneled dresses and flouncy high-waisted skirts.

I really like the individual pieces of clothing, especially the cool navy dress she wears in picture 6 above, but I think Hanafin may have overdid it with the period style--it veers into "old fashioned" more often than I'd like... I think part of what makes vintage clothing wearable is mixing it up with more modern elements. Accessories, something unexpected, like pairing it with modern jewelry, adds some freshness to vintage pieces and keeps a look grounded in the here-and-now.  Still, it was a very well done movie and lots of fun to watch all the outfits.

Update: Check out this exclusive MTV interview with Hope Hanafin on her vision for costuming (500) Days of Summer.

Another update: Found some bags that look a lot like the one Joseph Gordon-Levitt carries throughout the film.  Check them out here.