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Archive for August, 2009

by raisa

Mandarin, liliac and peach silk blouse

Mandarin, liliac and peach silk blouse

Everyone has an opinion about prints, whether it’s “no floral” or “nothing too abstract,” or (often) “no prints!  Ever!”  I’ve always preferred my clothes to be “flowered” (in my childhood, this was the opposite of anything “plain”). This has often put me in the danger zone of wearing BAD prints — granny florals, weird stripes, old paisley.  This is a problem.

You probably don’t wear bad prints; You probably have the opposite problem of underutilizing prints*.  This is just as bad.  For one thing, solid blocks of color all the time doesn’t help you avoid a granny look.  It can be aging, in a Lands End Cruise Separates kind of way.  Good prints are a fantastic way to add artistry, vitality and shape to your outfits.  Don’t give up on prints: Take courage. Prints are possible.  What I’ve learned:

Macy's dress: abstract, high-contrast black, white, brown and blue with black waist for shape. LOVE this dress.

Macy's dress: abstract, high-contrast black, white, brown and blue with black waist for shape. LOVE this dress.

 1.  Prints must be current.

  This is a bummer if you like to think there is a Platonic Form of Classic Clothing that will never go out of style.  Each season, prints and patterns evolve in form, color, contrast and scale.  You might avoid “flowers” because you think they look like dowdy wallpaper, but once you acclimate you can see them as hip new look.  Think of how you know a “70’s psychadelic” or an “80’s polka-dot dress” when you see it.  More recent prints are more difficult to discern, but it still matters.  Those years creep up on you . . . have you watched the 1995 Mariners/ Yankees Playoff Game 5 lately? Every year, those clothes look worse.  Uniforms with weird socks and men wearing white jeans in the outfield. At the time, this looked normal.

To keep current: 1. Buy new clothes; 2. Look in more modern stores and departments (Think Savvy, not Narrative, see Nordstrom FAQ), 3. Refine your aesthetic with exposure to current fashion — a little Vogue in the grocery checkout, a little Prime Time tv.  Think of it like music. You need to hear it to get it.  Do not give up.  Start with scarves, if you are scared.

Current prints: Watercolor, stylized, impressionistic.

Current prints: Watercolor, stylized, impressionistic.

2. Prints must be flattering.  I had this idea of taking pictures of all my prints up really close.  You know what? It doesn’t work, because that’s not the point. A print is like a melody in the context of an entire song — it overlays the top, it gives it identifiable personality — but a print does not say anything meaninful on its own.

If you hate prints, start by ignoring them: shop for fit and flattery, regardless of what the fabric looks like.  But include some favorite colors, shades and forms. Wear your eye color.  If you have body parts you are trying to minimize or maximize, USE the prints to work it: Don’t wear big flowers on your big boobs, or a bunch of wide stripes across your wide shoulders.  A good print should take your waist in, create shape, and attract attention to your neck and face.

Current print: Florals with stems and geometric patterns, white-with-bright for high contrast

Current print: Florals with stems and geometric patterns, white-with-bright for high contrast

3. Prints must fit the outfit. It’s possible to combine a print with a textured fabric or a subtle stripe, but if you’re new, don’t push it.  Prints look best with neutrals that aren’t too match-matchy. Nonblack neutrals (chocolate, charcoal, khaki) are a good bet.  Avoid wearing a solid color, like a green skirt, with a same-green-and-flowered print top: That is very Chadwicks of Boston circa 1998, which means it is Over. 

Prints are emotional and cultural (Why NO flowers? They are just botanical forms, are they that weird?) But most importantly they are visual, and everyone’s wardrobe should have some.

Next up: Digging into my closet back to 2002 (and earlier) for some bad prints.

*Unless your name is Jim A.  In which case you might want to pull back on the plaid.

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Why do guys get dressed?

I swear to god I did *not* stage this. He came into the room looking like this.

I swear to god I did *not* stage this. He came into the room looking like this.

by deathmama

This week I had an unusually socially packed weekend. On Saturday in particular, I was approached by at least three different guys asking me when I would start blogging about men’s fashion. Really? Wait. You read this? What do you want to hear about? You should start commenting and participating so we know you’re out there and let us know what interests you. In truth, I have been taking pictures of some funny looking men and keeping it in my fashion photo inventory. I haven’t had a chance to really think about it though, so nothing ever came of it. Besides, you tend to write what you know so I just blabber on about myself and my issues. Wait. Do men have issues? Most men I know seem to already know what’s going on and always look good or they don’t know what’s going on but don’t care. But maybe they do care. So I will start being more mindful of including men’s fashions I find ridiculous, as well as menswear I find pleasing.

For now, I will leave you to ponder this. Should you mix plaids? I thought that we had already agreed on a general rule that you can mix if they are in the same color family, or that you can mix if they are different sized plaids. But this guy keeps pushing our thinking. What do you think? Does the second one work? I think the first one does. I think he did this on purpose just to confuse us. What is his deal?

this basically works, right? because the colors go together.

this basically works, right? because the colors go together.

wait. what? someone explain!

wait. what? someone please explain!

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Transformation

by raisa

August, die she must (there’s really no avoiding it). Today I am wearing my first thrift item: The blue velour H&M blazer that dmama found at a thrift store and passed on to me. In the spirit of “wear it tomorrow (or the next available business day)” I am going to wear it to work today with a gray checked Tahari suit skirt (the one with the pleat/flounce), a red blouse and red pumps.  I saw lots of friends this weekend and everyone looked great, except some people at my husband’s office party which I won’t discuss.

Left: Worst Outfit Ever. The Visor Woman at my office dresses like this except with visors.

Left: Worst Outfit Ever. The Visor Woman at my office dresses like this except with visors.

Worst. Outfit. Ever.

Worst. Outfit. Ever.

I cried during Friday’s What Not to Wear — not unusual in itself, I’ve been known to cry during a really great transformation.  Or sometimes when a woman’s personal life resonates too much for my delicate sensibilities. But this was the first time I cried because an outfit someone wore was SO BAD and yet SO FAMILIAR. This is Teresa, above, the cellist in elastic-waist capri jeans and a bad cotton floral.  Thankfully Teresa had a good attitude and looked great at the end (when she smiled).  I’m still not sold on Ted, the new hairstylist who replaced Nick.  Ted is apparently the world’s greatest celebrity stylist, and he’s got a great manner and seems to “get” tattoos and African-American hair in a way you don’t normally see on tv.  But his women tend to all look a little Soccer Mom at the end (trust me, I know Soccer Moms). There’s not enough edge. I think he relies too heavily on the round brush.

I  have all sorts of other swirling thoughts about mixing dark neutrals with color, and I’m developing a master algorithm to serve as a unified theory for the total number of colors, prints and textures a person should wear at once.  Also, why do I keep forgetting to bring a new box of wet wipes to the daycare, and need to pay bills by tomorrow, AGAIN?  But I have a big exhibit deadline and it’s time to run.

Meg, where are the pictures from your wedding outfit?

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TGIF! Fall shoe search dilemma!

My new jeans (models legs are longer than mine, as indicated)

My new jeans (models legs are longer than mine, as indicated)

I’m determined to be happy about fall.  This time of year tends to make me all, “August die she must/ The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.” But I just can’t go there right now.  So I will say: I’m really happy with my jeans and cords.  I got these at the NAS and they totally fit me.  I am getting them hemmed as we speak — $13 a pair at my local drycleaners. 

Clarks Showstopper, $90. Not bad?

Clarks Showstopper, $90. Not bad?


Question is: What shoes do I wear with casual but very cute jeans and cords? I don’t want clunky-funky.  I don’t want athletic unless I’m actually working out .  I don’t want the teen-department Pumas with pink laces (like the ones I got at Payless Shoes Source last fall). They need to be walkable, minimal heel with good support.  They need to be waterproof: no clogs or mules, and I’m skeptical about Maryjanes.  Is it too much for them to also be killer cute? Even maybe a little sexy? These jeans deserve it.

Chinese Laundry, $70 at Piperlime

Chinese Laundry, $70 at Piperlime

 

Frye Shortie boots, $318. Is it just me who finds the top of a cowboy boot unbearably sexy? Is that because you usually only see it when a cowboy takes his boots off?

Frye Shortie boots, $318. Is it just me who finds the top of a cowboy boot unbearably sexy? Is that because you usually only see it when a cowboy takes his boots off?

Example of what I dont want: Grandpa Shoes

Example of what I don't want: Grandpa Shoes


Flatiron, by Blowfish, $60.  Just kidding.

Flatiron, by Blowfish, $60. Just kidding.

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Wednesday Survey: Mad Libs

I love wearing ___________ (color/style) because it makes me feel  ___________ (adjective).  If only I had ___________ (noun) I would wear more ___________ (article of clothing/ accessory).  I can’t wait for ___________ (time/ season/ event) because I will wear ___________ (clothing).

I never wear ___________(article of clothing) because it makes me feel ___________ (adjective) and I worry about ___________ (unpleasant event).

Striped dress by Sophie Theallet. Photo by Jewel Samad / Getty Images via Mrs.-O.org

Striped dress by Sophie Theallet. Photo by Jewel Samad / Getty Images via Mrs.-O.org

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Mistakes, part 2

Last week I talked about the mistake of buying something nice because it is such a bargain and then realizing later that what I was really drawn to was the price and the pieces don’t suit me at all. This week, I call it:

It’s Not You, It’s Me

This is very similar in that the pieces stay in my closet/dresser unworn but for a longer period of time because of the price. The cheaper stuff is easier to get rid of but the ones I paid good money for, I feel like I need to keep it around just in case. In case of… what?

hello, beautiful. 100% cashmere contrast seamed blue/green (my favorite color combo at the time) sweater by margaret o'leary.

hello, beautiful. 100% cashmere contrast seamed blue/green (my favorite color combo at the time) sweater by margaret o'leary.

I bought this about 4 years ago because I saw it through the window at Louie Permelia at University Village and couldn’t stop thinking about it. One day I just went in and tried it on and then several days later I just had to get it. I love the colors. I love that it’s cashmere. It’s even raglan sleeved. But in the past 4 years I think I wore it twice. Why? It’s the neck, y’alls. I tend to fall into the pattern of thinking that I can overlook my rules if all other aspects of the clothing is good enough. No. I have to look at it as a whole. This neckline bothered me too much. This was an expensive mistake. I love you, but we must part ways.

P.S. This could be a separate post/rant but I also noticed that there was a tiny hole in the sleeve. Moths? I HATE that. I hate buying nice expensive things which are more bother to purchase/keep than it’s worth. Sort of like buying a $300 wallet but only having 3 dollars in it. Or a nice grand bookcase but with just paperback Harry Potters in them.

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Classiques Entier ruched mesh top. Great under-bust seams. Mine is a purple and black watercolor print.

Classiques Entier ruched mesh top. Great under-bust seams. Mine is a purple and black watercolor print.

It’s still summer, but today is a rainy August Tuesday and it feels like fall.  If you live in Homer, Alaska, like my sister, it IS fall. They are even back to school already (don’t feel too sorry for her! They end in May. Like the Semester System! Which I have never been on).

In honor of proto-Fall, I busted out my school clothes today, scored on my fantastic Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Shopping Trip.  If you are still not sold on Nordstrom, my summaries are here  and here.  The clothes I really like for “chic business casual” are in the Individualist department.  Here’s what Nordstrom says about it:

 Classiques Entier® offers sophisticated designs and well-constructed essentials in luxurious European fabrics. The collection features versatile styles and current trends interpreted for the workplace. The effect is confident, stylish and feminine—with a touch of glamour.

 And also this:

Classiques Entier Atelier provides polished, feminine suiting and elegant separates to build a timeless wardrobe. Expertly crafted from European fabrics, the collection offers essential items as well as luxurious pieces to create standout looks.

 That sounds pretty pretentious but I get it.

I have this in brown and it’s my favorite top! Look, I found it in blue.  Bad news: someone put my brown one in the dryer. EEEK. It might have been me.  It kind of shrunk and I kind of cried, and my 4-and-a-half year old son (who cheers me up from crying FAR too often) tried to reassure me by saying “You can buy a new one, Mommy!” I don’t know.

I have this in brown and it’s my favorite top! Look, I found it in blue. Bad news: someone put my brown one in the dryer. EEEK. It might have been me. It kind of shrunk and I kind of cried, and my 4-and-a-half year old son (who cheers me up from crying FAR too often) tried to reassure me by saying “You can buy a new one, Mommy!” I don’t know.

Shard print belted silk dress, long cardigan, tights, open toe boots. Hmm.

Classiques Entier feature outfit: "Shard" print belted silk dress, long cardigan, tights, open toe boots. Hmm.

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