(Gauchos + Boots)(Style + Comfort) = Suitable alternative to (Skinny Jeans + Boots)(Fat-Bottomed Girls)

I am not trying to be mean, here.  I'm just sayin' that while it's truly a great thing to be a fat-bottomed girl (as Queen sang about them), it's not always so awesome to "let it all hang out."  And that means PUT DOWN. THE. SKINNY. JEANS.  Good heavens!  Curvy girls and skinny jeans!  Being in possession of a few curves myself, I do not pretend I will ever look great in skinny jeans.  Or bikini bottoms and knee socks.

Instead, I offer to you a style-friendly, still-cold-weather alternative to that awful, ubiquitous (skinny jeans + boots) trend we're suffering right now, which will do you and the rest of society a favor by flattering those lovely curves of yours: Gauchos.  Plus boots!
Yes, you can still wear those kickass boots and keep your feet warm while the weather decides whether it's going to continue stinking or not. Amazing.
The term "gaucho" actually refers to a South American people who were sort of equivalent to the North American vaquero or cowboy.  They wore these heavy, loose-fitting pants thusly:

However, it's a bit unclear whether the modern gaucho pants were actually inspired by the native clothing of these South American herdsmen.  Gauchos as we know them were developed in the seventies as a more convenient, more comfortable, more wide-legged cross between the form-fitting capri pants of the sixties (as popularized by the incomparable Audrey Hepbern) and the bell-bottoms of the disco era.  The result was a fantastically practical yet stylish pant that could easily go from casual to dressy to office-appropriate.  And, best of all, the flared leg means its ideal for flattering ladies with hips and thighs (that is to say, something like 90% of normal women in the world).
That said, guachos are not the easiest articles of clothing to find, and even harder to find in the right length (if you're petite like me, they could end up looking like cropped trousers) or the right fabric (light linens for summer, heavier tweeds for winter).  I culled a few favorites to get you started.
And, couldn't help throwing in the Queen video for "Fat Bottomed Girls."  Enjoy!

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.


It's me, Jena, the rarely seen in the wild Wearability contributor!

Anyway I have a site recommendation, and here's hoping no one has heard of it yet:

If you're a window shopper, app devotee, or closet paper doll hobbyist, you might like building an ensemble on Polyvore. I spent a good thirty minutes there trying to come up with an outfit for a theoretical date to a theoretical 40's style cocktail party. A lot of the selections are expensive, but I spotted a couple mid-range items in there (Forever 21?)

Anyway it's pretty intuitive and I'm curious to see what people put together.

Read: The Sartorialist

The Sartorialist is easily one of my favorite street fashion blogs. Every morning I'm excited to see new posts that feature the most stylishly dressed people from New York, Milan, London and beyond. I live vicariously through his photos, hoping that I too, can be that well dressed.

The creator, Scott Schuman, recently published a 500-page book featuring his favorite photos and he'll be in San Francisco tomorrow. Hoping I'll keep my cool and not turn into a giggly teenager, I can't wait to get my copy signed. Maybe girlfriend/fiancée(?!) Garance (another favorite blogger) will be there too. Two for one deal. Live in LA? Scott will be there the next day.

San Francisco
Wednesday October 21st, 7:30pm-8:30pm
50 Geary Street

Los Angeles
Thursday October 22nd, 8pm-10pm
The Beverly Center
8th Floor, Outdoor Terrace

Source: 1-16

How-to: Dressing for warmth and comfort. And, of course, some timeless style.

Let us deconstruct this look, shall we? I saw it on Garance's site and was so very taken by it because it made me feel like sighing in reliefat the same time that it piqued my interest with some cushy textures and structured flow (did I just invent a new oxymoron?). Somehow this woman created a look that is fresh, yet original--I can't point to a single element that follows the season's trends.

I am loving her monotone neutrals (so subtle!), mixed textures and the modest coverage. There is absolutely nothing offensive about her outfit. Talk about comfort. Talk about wearability!

I imagine this look may possibly not work for someone with large thighs or a potbelly, because it is somewhat shapeless. But that doesn't mean one can't try - I love the softness of the sweater, both in color and in the low-slung shape, and the slight ballooning of the harem pants is genius.

But what really keeps the look from moving into "sloppy" territory is a nice structured bag and her very sculptural boots! This convinces me that I am on the right track recently, where I have severely neglected clothes buying in favor of shoe buying. I'm convinced you can make anything look expensive with some excellent, if understated, shoes.




My style tends to be on the modest side; covered shoulders, knee-length skirts and longer, covered chest and covered head. It's my personal preference not to reveal too much skin; feeling adequately covered helps me feel less distracted about what I'm wearing.

With that said, on this particular day it was gearing up to be a properly blazing hot summer day, and I wanted to take advantage of the weather to wear some of my shorter clothing. The blouse and skirt are both by Retroscope Fashions, which designs neovictorian-styled clothing of various levels of wearability. I like this combo because it's true to its aesthetic, but not off-putting or overwhelmed with ruffly madness. To take the edge off the high gothiness I added some simple canvas flats and a striped tote bag.

I'm also wearing my round sunglasses which seem to have come back in style lately (maybe thanks to Lady Gaga, with her bizarre self?) That's fine with me; makes it easier to stock up on them before they go back out of style again. ;o)


Since July of 2006 I've been blogging my daily outfits on flickr more or less regularly, even during my pregnancy last year. I partly do it to share my personal style with others and inspire them to develop their own style, but I also do it to learn about what works best for me and on me. My style could be called experimental, since I never wear the same outfit twice, and most of the time I approach the way I dress in an experimental way.

 It has been suggested that I share them here, so I shall. But I'll also take the opportunity to talk a little bit more about my thoughts on the outfit. So consider this my inaugural personal style feature!

This particular day was a pretty casual day involving running errands and doing housework. But it was sunny out so I thought I'd wear my parasol hat. I pinned it to adjust the "flop" so it wouldn't flop in my face.

I knew I wanted to wear the utility skirt that day, but also I wanted to see if it took a petticoat (I'm really into underskirts right now), and I was curious to know how a flouncy skirt would feel/look underneath a more utilitarian one.

Lately I've been limiting myself mostly to a monochromatic palette, so I thought I'd use my vibrant kente print bag just to throw things off some.

A Test of Efficiency/Efficacy: Diary of sh*t I bought in the last 4 months.

Posted simultenously to stephanie.posterous.com

I feel like I'm spilling all my secrets. 

Don't think for one minute that, with all my mooning about beautiful shoes and things, I somehow lose track or control of my spending or, as I've heard some people say, "have nothing to show for it."  Au contraire, I know exactly where every penny has gone and try to make purchases through careful deliberation (doesn't always work, of course).

I definitely make mistakes - I'm still a fledgling shopper, still learning the ropes, still buying things I regret later (or immediately).  I know it will take some time, but what I'm really working towards is developing my taste, my ability to quickly assess fit, style, quality, and value--understanding what I like and what I don't like, what works and what won't, slowly getting more confident making this assessment, and slowly becoming faster at it.  

I've come a long way in the last few years--it all started when I realized that I was a) buying pretty stuff I didn't wear and b) not wearing it out of laziness, defaulting to jeans and t-shirts, and, even worse, c) not wearing it because I lacked confidence/self esteem.  I realized I didn't wear half the stuff I bought because I did not like calling attention to myself.  I have been very lucky to have always worked in offices that allow a lot of room for creativity.  I realized that if I could work up the nerve to pull off some of the stuff I bought, and get used to the attention it would bring, perhaps that gumption would seep into other areas of my life.  I also realized that it would be fun to to approach style as another form of self-expression.  As Garry tells me, "wear it and hold your head up!"

I digress.

As I said, I keep close tabs on my credit card statement, the wad of receipts in my wallet, and the accumulation of "stuff" around my room.  I thought it might be a good exercise to do a recap/roundup of what I bought in the last few months, much of which you may have seen on this blog, along with my thoughts on each item.
April: Some may remember I gave up shopping for Lent.  As soon as Easter came, I bought stuff. A crapton of it.
  • Yellow bag: My first real-leather handbag.  From Marshall's. Besides being a steal, I use it almost every day.  Definite winner.
  • World According to Jess "crossword" case: It is a fantastic overnighter.  I love the separate compartment on the bottom for shoes.
  • Black hoodie, gray sweater, blue top from the Gap: The hoodie replaced one that was falling apart and will come in handy as soon as autumn hits.  The gray sweater I ruined in the dryer - but at least it was only $10 and may make some cozy armwarmers.  The blue top I absolutely love.
  • Shoshanna floral print dress: Huge mistake.  It is sized a true 4 (as opposed to the generous sizing at most chain stores), so I can't even zip it up.  I can't decide if I want to donate it, resell it, try to alter it to fit me, or lose a crapton of weight.
  • Franco Sarto clogs: I love them.  They were totally affordable, the grommets on the side add edge to any outfit, and they are so versatile!
  • RSVP silver sandals: They served their purpose (my friend's wedding).  At $13, does it really matter if I ever wear them again?
  • Frye lace-up boots: One of my most expensive shoe purchases to date.  I like them a lot, but still can't figure out how to wear them. (Help!)
May: This was a month of scouring eBay and traveling.
  • Cotton "tropical toile" sundress: I bought this dress from the fantastic Moule in the Pearl District of Portland, a fantastic purchase from an amazing retail store.  It was a one-of-a-kind sample, made either by Rachel Mara or Michelle Mason (the designer later decided to turn the design into a top instead of a dress).  It has a balloon-y silhouette, is light as air, and I love everything from the pattern of the toile to the black bands that define it at the top and bottom.  The icing on the cake was that it was heavily discounted, and there's no sales tax in Portland.  Score.
  • Black fedora: a random buy at the Saturday Market in Portland.  I like the way it looks/fits but have not figured out where on earth I can wear it with a straight face.
  • Vintage Selby loafers: From one of my favorite sellers on Etsy.  At $10 they were a steal, and I love the extra-long tongues and little gold hardware.
  • Vintage striped secretary blouse: It was also a steal, but it's a bit shapeless.  I need to figure out how to wear it without looking like a referee or a flight attendant.
  • Random jewelry: All purchased on eBay.  You all witnessed the deliberation over the owl, but the blue orchid was an unexpected find, and I was surprised at how much I love that splash of blue against everything.  The bracelets are fine, not super excited about them.
  • Custom pencil skirt from Louise Hedley: I was disappointed with the purchase and ended up giving the Etsy seller neutral feedback (she was very nice/lovely to work with but the color and fit was just not what I expected based on the item description).  Haven't worn it out but maybe one of these days.  Not worth the $ at all.
June: Showed a bit more restraint this month.
  • Plaid "farmer girl" shirt: I can't for the life of me remember the name of the designer even though I chatted with her for a few minutes at SF's Indie Mart.  She very cleverly cuts off the sleeves of things and arranges them in flower patterns on the chest.  I was debating between this and a vest made out of a repurposed blazer, but Garry was right that I would wear this more.  I do, and I love it!
  • Eva Brann cream crochet cardigan: It was the one thing I wanted to buy in all of Beacon Hill when I visited Boston last month.  The preppy, yacht-club style of New England does not jive with me.  I was surprised to find this unexpectedly romantic piece at Boutique Eskil.  It was expensive, but it's beautiful, you can't go wrong with a pretty white cardigan, and there's no sales tax in Boston.  Score.
July:  So far.  This does not include the sh*t I ordered last week from Anthro.  Including the enchanting dark bouquet dress.
  • Look from London plaid tights: The only thing at Jeremy's SF worth buying.  Sushmita and I thought Jeremy's was like a big, disorganized, and appallingly expensive version of Ross.  There were very few good deals to be had, and the selection was awful.  But I salvaged the day with this quirky find - they are super comfortable and lots of fun (and not pricey!).
  • Emily Katz "wish" top: One of the very few things I was moved to buy at the giant DIY flea market that was the Renegade Craft Fair.  Not only was this sample hugely discounted, but I got to chat with Emily herself for a while.  I'll be featuring her in a later post.
  • Elie Tahari snakeskin sandals: You already know all about this one.  They fit all right, but one major negative is that the slingback slips so easily off my heels.  I don't know if I should try to return them, if I just need to break them in, if I should get some kind of heel insert, or if I just need to totter around like a deer in them.

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.