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· Fall 2005 Haute Couture Reviews
· Favorite Looks for Fall 2005
· Turning Heads, Not Raising Eyebrows: An Introduction
· Spotted, Dolce & Gabbana pumps...
· More jewelry ramblings
· Taking a work break...
· My First Thoughts
· More style ramblings...
· More jewelry ramblings...
· I knew I liked that kitty...
· More jewelry thoughts...
· Discounts, luxury goods, conspicuous consumption, and all the shades of the fashion spectrum...
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· 8:09 PM by Dain
· 1:27 AM by Colleen Shirazi
· 4:02 PM by angie
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· 7:19 PM by Colleen Shirazi
· 12:54 AM by Dain
· 3:44 PM by Colleen Shirazi
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· 11:54 PM by Dain
· 12:33 AM by Colleen Shirazi
The Lipstick Page Forums Fashion Blog: August 2005
Fall 2005 Haute Couture Reviews
Posted by Cat, Tuesday, August 30, 2005 4:41 PM (Eastern)
Fall 2005 Haute Couture Reviews
This reminds me of fantastical witches draped in black cobwebs. Not a particularly original style but captivating all the same.
Mmmm... I love this outfit. You can't see most of it because that gorgeous quilted coat is covering it up but I can just imagine it to be extremely demure in front with a dramatic plunge in back. Just lovely.
The flowers are growing from the hem of her skirt...what amazing craftsmanship.
What a stunning coat. Reminds me of that Gucci one from a couple years back, with that extra high collar as well. But this is sober and stern to the satin-y flashiness of Tom Ford's creation.
I like this whole outfit, for some bizarre reason. I hate fussy print, even tweeds in large quantities, but it works in this. The wonders of Karl Lagerfield, though the collection overall is quite somber/dull/disappointing. I suppose looking at pictures online is poor substitution when it comes to couture. You really must delve into the seams, look at the cuts, and unexpected details will pop out at you and make you appreciate what looks to be a boring black overcoat on screen.
A dress of goddess proportions.
Jean Paul Gaultier
One of my favorite designers of all time. The first two outfits made my heart soar.
The play of sleek vs furry, fitted vs poofy, so great. It makes me want to wear that fur skirt.
That is a perfect slouchy deep teal velvet leisure suit. In case I ever need one. Minus the boots.
This outfit still looks pulled together and coherent without sacrificing his signature razzle and dazzle.
Oooohlala... I've been looking at too much black. The dress itself pops out at you and the jewels are fairly dripping off the hems.
Don't laugh at the model. Yes, she looks like a lollipop but this is a very striking design.
He does casual very well, very elegantly, but his evening wear leaves much to be desired. His motto seems to be the sheerer, the better. It's like Elie Saab, who hasn't changed his formula since he first popped onto the scene. Couture requires imagination, daring and a sense for the impossible. It should be a springing board for your RTW, your inspiration.
This is rather nice, with a touch of whimsy on the bottom. But it reminds me of Givenchy a few years back, and doesn't strike me as an original creation.
Favorite Looks for Fall 2005
Posted by Cat, 1:25 PM (Eastern)
I actually quite like Fall 2005. I think it's fairly forgiving to the regular person and somehow, the collections seems more 'real' to me. Perhaps it's also because I am a big fan of masculine aspects in feminine wardrobe so this season is great simply for that. But i also think that after this summer of exhausting color, it's almost a relief to fall back onto blacks and deeper, cooler colors.
Lines I adore for Fall 2005:
Alessandro Dell'Aqua (a little edgier and not as mainstream)
This is a great outfit. It's chic and in but still somehow edgy without sacrificing prettiness. Very feminine, slightly boho but restrained and complete with fabulous shoes.
This is very Fall 2005. Elegant, subdued but with details in the fabric make it a layered creation. The shoes anchor the outfit from floating off.
The lushness of the black velvet contrasted with the filmy black tulle is amazing.
An unusual style reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn.
Some of the pieces in this Fall collection are just very corseted, very high necked Edwardian style, too much so for my tastes but this is looser, modern dress that I am very taken with.
*sigh* Completely unforgiving but so beautiful. The colors work so well together and details are so delicate. I can see the top with high-waisted trousers as well, or the skirt with another less fussy top so the skirt can really shine through.
Viktor & Rolf
Eccentric and quirky, this is a stunning, more subdued outfit from the wild collection. Their small menswear collection is to die for as well.
This is just a beautiful piece of work.
Roland Mouret (very old Hollywood glamour)
This is very Fall 2005. The hourglass figure is in again! The puff sleeves, the fitted dress and deeper more subdued colors.
I am in love with this outfit. It is absolutely perfect. Impossibly cool and chic. It's not that I don't love the hourglass dresses but that has always struck me a bit as throwing women back into the corset or foot binding days.
I've always liked her collections, very commercial and lots of mass appeal but always well cut and touchs of masculine to temper the ultra feminine. This suit is masculine but when you put it on, it only serves to emphasize your femininity.
This is a perfect casual winter outfit.
Balenciaga (more high-concept but still wearable)
If ever there was a perfect military coat...this is it. This is a perfect collection piece. But I like it better in the white, I think. But I like all that fur on the arms.
I've always liked Balenciaga's bigger pieces, especially their coats. The proportions, the design, it's always brilliant. This one is a beautiful wearable piece that would definitely qualify to be in my dream wardrobe.
Hermes (subtly super luxurious)
This is gorgeous. I love Hermes usually for their trousers and feminine menswear but this was just sublime.
I just absolutely adore wearing mens things. Il Bisonte leather briefcase, L'Artisan Mechant Loup (thanks to Dain), mens watch...but this is a lovely suit. And I have to say, that hat is growing on me.
This is a perfect trench. Sumptuous satin details make it special and something to wear for years.
This is also a beautiful suit and coat. Absolutely sublime.
The epitome of Boho chic. Layering, dissonant styles, all worn with a savoir fair attitude and messy chic hair.
Turning Heads, Not Raising Eyebrows: An Introduction
Posted by Cat, 12:28 PM (Eastern)
This post is purely self-indulgent, an amalgamation of everything that catches my eye. I have a cleaner eye when it comes to Couture and RTW than Dain, but I don't think in terms of basics. My line of thought is if you're going to spend that much money on one item, it better be fucking fantastic and make you happy for a very, very, very long time.
My personal dressing philosophy, which I'm resolving to stick to this upcoming year, is to always look put together. The key to this, i think, is simply to not have any clothes in your closet that are blah-looking or don't make you feel good about yourself. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut. Get out of those jeans and put on some trousers with a heel. There's an instant difference and honestly, is it any harder to put on? The trick is to find great looking clothes that are comfortable for your basics. That way, you look great all the time. Have you ever bought something really nice and then just never wear it? That's a very common habit, actually. Pieces were meant to be worn. Worn carefully at times, but worn nonetheless. It's not going to be enhance your self-esteem by hanging in the closet.
Fall 2005 is more demure and lady like than some of the va-va-voom from Gucci's Tom Ford heyday (Fall 2001 comes to particular mind). Many of the pieces are quite good, but usually only one or two pieces from a collection are worth considering. I've broken things down into three categories: Basics, Classics, Frissons.
CLASSIC Fall 2005 RTW Lanvin Trenchcoat, $2,600 at Barney's
BASIC JCrew Women's Vintage Tissue V-neck Tee, $28 at JCrew.com
FRISSON Fall 2005 Christian Louboutin Velvet Platform Sandal with silk satin ribbon closure
Spotted, Dolce & Gabbana pumps...
Posted by Dain, Saturday, August 27, 2005 9:14 AM (Eastern)
In a cognac crocodile or alligator (as if I know the difference). This is really more Cathy's taste than mine, but it is by anyone's understanding singularly exquisite. And, though Dolce & Gabbana always screams "Euro trash!" to me, there is something about their heels—they match my instep exactly, so that even the most skyscraper heel molds to my feet like butter.
The given original price says $995, to a reduction of $555 (this is at a local store). Not a great price, but I found the same shoes on Raefaello, and they're actually supposed to be $1500, in which case it is a deep, deep discount. And they are classic and gorgeous, no? They scream fabulousness, or at least, conspicuous consumption (like I said, Euro trash). A bit too aggressive for me, really, but it breaks my heart to think someone I do not know will get away with a deal like this.
A humbler, but equally versatile pump is also available in black leather, at the far more allowable price of around $200 (from $500). These are highly respectable, if a little boring (and a half size too large).
I want a single pair of designer shoes. One, to wear with my fall capsule wardrobe (forthcoming), which must therefore comply with cool greens/blues, paired with a cream lace skirt and grey/blue plaid trousers. The coat is a khaki trench, the schoolbag, a cognac leather (more russet-toned than amber-y, but you can see why I'm leaning towards the alligator, yeah?). Two, to commemorate my first paycheck. Three, I've been very good about my other purchases—two sweaters, a skirt, a pair of trousers (which I haven't purchased yet, actually), a single palette, and two Eye Kohls (it totals to approximately $300; very good for total wardrobe/makeup expenditures for a season... I usually spend that much on makeup alone)—so a single splurge seems perfectly doable. Four, it should be a purchase, by dint of beauty and quality both, that lasts me a lifetime, and therefore worth the hundreds. I like shoes with character, anyway—so exquisite that they justify themselves, not to be "matched" necessarily, with any ole outfit; they are outfits unto themselves.
Here are the options:
Dolce & Gabbana cognac alligator stilleto pump ~$555 (from $995-$1500): Classic shape, luxe material, sexy style, neutral color, exquisite make... what can I say? There is nothing to be said against this pump, save the price. It would match my fall wardrobe, as well as anything else besides. But reptile skins creep me out a little, I must admit (it took me a while to get used to leather, even), and alligator is an aggressive skin. Does a $500-$1000 markdown merit a $500 shoe? I don't know. It is faultless, but... $500? But then, the comparable Manolo brown croc is $3000. It seems criminal not to buy.
Dolce & Gabbana black stiletto pump ~$200 (from $660-$500): Similar to the alligator, in that it is classic, sexy, neutral, and exquisite. It's more wearable, given that it's a simple black pump, but I don't really do black, and I don't really do simple. It's exquisite on the foot, but it bores me. Still, a fantastic deal. When will I find such a basic, wearable shoe at such a great deal again? but then I think, I am still paying a couple hundred dollars, and all details should be perfect. The cut of the shoe is a little plain, and I'd like something racier. Overall, it's just a little too conservative. (There's a green one as well, as well as a taupe snakeskin, and a beige snakeskin.) But say, if I find a nice, red bag for school, these would be better than any of the others.
Christian Lacroix violet velvet / rainbow pump $149 (from $423): In the right size this time (one hopes), and while I would objectively prefer black, I have no real objections to the violet, particularly since it would match the "outfit" even better. These are perhaps a bit more mod-ish and aggressive for the "outfit" as far as style goes (hmm... against the cream lace skirt? I would remove that gumball thing), but as I've said, these have enough character on their own to disregard the clothes entirely. Honestly, what could you match these to? I've handled a pair, of course, and the quality is beyond belief. The velvet is the plush, dense silk velvet, and the gumball is tightly screwed on (not merely glued), and even the sole is top-quality leather. They're hugely aggressively, but the way the alligator pumps are. They're quirky almost to the point of the ugliness, but the dark velvet and the round toe, I think, restrain them. It is simply a more interesting shoe. As Cathy said, looking at them, it is a Carrie Bradshaw shoe.
Manolo Blahnik beige floral-embroidered "Carolyne" $513: I had to include these. Of them all, they're the most beautiful of all. The picture doesn't do it justice. When you try them on, oh, jesus. Gorgeous. And so beautiful they meet anyone's standards, without being the least bit odd or aggressive, so that they meet anyone's sartorial needs, too. It's pure poetry, this shoe. And I bought it. I was convinced to take them back, on the argument that, although they were beautiful, they were not $500 worth of beautiful. But alas, I hardly knew ye, o Carolyne. I miss them already.
J. Crew dark red Patent Leather "Sloane" $158: I'm not inclined towards these, as they are not a designer shoe, but, I love the contrast of the shiny red against the colors of my "outfit" (washed out greens, blues, and neutrals, as you recall). There are several points against this shoe. One, as I said, they're not a sufficient "treat" (I do actually want to spend money here). Two, I'm not really into red, to be honest. Three, I'm choosing this, therefore, for its ability to match, whereas I really should be choosing them for stand-alone beauty. It's pretty, but hell, not that pretty. I won't even pay $150 for a shoe unless it's love. Four, I don't like the heel. Five, it costs more than the Lacroix! I suppose that settles it, then.
Balenciaga fuschia crystal bow sandal $2240: By and large, I don't like sandals. It would not, in practical terms, work well for my outfit (though they would aesthetically), since they look completely painful and not suited to New England weather (though, are any of these?). I just think they're out and out gorgeous, and wanted to post a picture, if you like. I don't know if I could ever afford them. That is really, really a prohibitive price. But they're wonderful to look at, aren't they? I just wanted to share.
What should I do? I'm leaning towards the cognac alligator pumps from Dolce & Gabbana, if I can't find a nice red bag. The black pumps if I do. And the Lacroix, I think I'm gonna get anyway, because it's such a nice deal. The Manolos? Maybe someday, if I have flippin' thousands of dollars to throw around. The Balenciaga? GET REAL.
Images courtesy of: www.raffaello-network.com, www.jcrew.com, www.neimanmarcus.com, www.style.com, and www.zappos.com.
More jewelry ramblings
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Friday, August 26, 2005 9:17 PM (Eastern)
Well...I need green earrings, after all.
I know that is a sad statement. I have golden amber earrings, I have blue earrings, I have earrings with green in them...I have gold earrings and all kinds of fabulous earrings. But...ah, I need green earrings.
I'll likely buy them in Berkeley; I always go to the same shop. The trick is to wait long enough, because then there will be new things there. So, when I go, I will be able to find my green earrings then.
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 8:48 PM (Eastern)
Well, I disagree with most of Dain's post, of course. Except about the PC fashion thing. I myself prefer the feel-bad approach, if I'm buying. I don't want to see a bunch of ordinary looking broads in magazines. I want to see young, impossibly beautiful girls and women. They can be older, I see nothing wrong with that, but they still have to look better than I do, or I feel cheated.
But what you wear does not indicate how much money you have. It doesn't. I've lived in California for twenty years. Those people with the expensive cars and clothes, do not necessarily own anything beyond what you see, if they own even what you see. And those inconspicuous old guys who buy their clothes in New Chinatown--those people own more than you, me, and everyone we know, all rolled into one.
About the $40,000 handbag...well...you have to draw a line somewhere. Where you draw the line, that may be an individual thing, but you have to have a line. Or else everyone who wants a piece of your money knows how to get it.
And I highly disagree that creativity involves making clothes, any more than programming means you have to create programs from scratch. There's a point where you may be reinventing the wheel. There are too many variables involved in finding and selecting clothes, for it not to be a creative art unto itself.
On a personal level...I have chosen not to be that interested in the supremely wealthy. There's a point where it becomes consumption for the sake of consumption. I find the middle class more interesting. Not in the artistic sense, obviously...but in the functional sense.
It remains to be seen whether or not we'll have a middle class, ten or twenty years from now. So, there is also a sentimental factor in it for me.
Taking a work break...
Posted by Dain, Wednesday, August 24, 2005 3:55 PM (Eastern)
I'm editing a really horrible short work of fiction that some kid is going to publish for college-application larding. Nevermind the soullessness of the goal in mind (cute gambit, but not recommended for anyone less than a genius—stick to the humble essay, I say, it will not do you wrong), it just hurts my heart to read bad writing, and I mean it in the most ineffable sense of bad writing—not grammar, not style, which are but arbitrary and superficial trappings—but silly trash expressed in ever sillier ideas. You know the type. This one is particularly odd because it has a specially Asian brand of fantasy. Sometimes, fantasy expresses what we feel like we cannot express, and for a rigid and very polite people, sexual repression and modesty are expected. Hence, a lot of odd notions of romantic tension and boastfulness abound in this thing. Oof! It's very bad. It makes me very grumpy. The romantic tension wouldn't be so bad, because so many writers are guilty of it, but I wish he wouldn't write things like, "'I'm probably one the best ten in fire magic,' said _____ with a smile on her face."
So, I will take a break, to consider something, if perhaps more frivolous, wholly more enjoyable and interesting. Shopping. (Can you see me grinning?)
It is, in part, a response to Raphaëlle's post below. It is right, but it is wrong. At first, I suspected that my ambivalence was a sign of my hopeless elitism (something that makes me feel, not guilty exactly, but ashamed—ironically enough!), but I think there is a disagreement of fundamentals. In all honesty, such concepts as the "creative instinct" in fashion, and "there are no rules to style", are a tricky sorts of things to get involved with. At best, it's a bearing of distinction for someone who's great at composing outfits. At worst, it's PC fluff, particularly in the hands of, say, Glamour. Wonders! The great minds of Glamour respect our individuality and artistic potential (despite all pictoral evidence to the contrary)—we are not women tied down by our feminimity but women who express our feminimity! (Buy our stuff!)
What the hell does that mean? I'm not reading your frikkin' magazine for half-baked notions of fashion and life philosophy. While I do feel resentful of how fashion is dismissed as "superficial" and "women's stuff", it is nevertheless, not life. Fashion is not life. Fashion is not people. It is not like food, or like fertile discourse of the mind, clothes are ridiculous social constructs that we enjoy for their sake alone. Fashion has no greater end than pleasure. They are things we buy. Which is why I prefer Vogue, as long as we are in the vein of magazine-referencing. It's about clothes and fabulousness, but it cares not a whit about making you feel confident in your humanity. I don't need a magazine's approval of my humanity, I want to know more about clothes. Because... clothes are not about humanity. Clothes are just clothes. Clothes should be celebrated for their clothishness alone, because they sure as hell won't garner you a Noble Prize, bestow you with better lovers (though perhaps they might give you confidence...), or put meat on your bones. Fashion magazines are better when they make you feel bad, as drastically un-PC as it sounds. Sometimes I honestly think, that when people go on and on about what magazines do (which is different from going on and on about what people do, as that's more a knee-jerk aesthetic response, i.e. disgust) to deprive young women of healthy self-esteem... well, it's true, to some extent, but we are not that frail, we women. We're pretty well aware, the most of us, that we cannot ever look like that. I've noticed that girls who turn anorexic are those who are often wealthy and well-spoiled. Anyone who's dealt with a few hard knocks in the world knows there are harsher criticisms than cellulite. What's more anti-feminist? To mold us all into one image (not gonna happen in any case), or to presume we are so weak and stupid to become victims, one and all? Tricky question. This is why I prefer clothes, as clothes, viewed objectively.
Style is not a function of creativity, but of expression. Creativity is a nebulous notion, one of the greatest mysteries of the human soul, a philosophical concept. Buying clothes and wearing clothes is not quite on that level, my friends. Style is an extension of something, that is true, but it is an extension of taste, of perserverance, and of money. Unless you make the clothes yourself, you have no claims towards creativity, beyond putting outfits together (of course, as with anything, the boundary versus creativity and mere expression is nebulous). If indeed you create clothes, then by all means, jabber on about creativity. It's ridiculous, however, to make the affectation. Clothes do express your personality, they express how much money you have, they express your taste. But in no way does it create those things, the way that designing a couture gown would. The reason why one cannot talk about creativity when it comes to buying and wearing clothes (though obviously, again, there is some creativity involved with making outfits), is a fundamental problem. One should make allowances for all the variances of personal taste, but hey, it's not war and peace, it's clothing. Creativity, I think, is taking it too far.
This is why such ridiculous phenomena exist. Fashion is the opposite of dead serious, simply because (in theory, anyway), fashion is not a matter of life or death. How else could you have $40,000 handbags? Luxury items, we call them. When a plastic sack would do just as well. If we had to pay $40,000 for a cup of water, it would be morally wrong, because water is a matter of life and death. The wrongness of a $40,000 handbag, however, is quite different, an outrage not of a moral nature, but rather of politic judgement. It may be a wasteful method of spending money, but as it is not a necessity, per se, it is not evil, save perhaps through negligence. This is why, for example, I crave a red Paddington (a lipstick red, oh, that would be so fabulous against a backdrop of cool water tones and fancified neutrals, a spike of fire... I get carried away), which demands a cool $2000. Granted, you are paying for craftmanship, utility/durability, and taste (not mine, mind you, but Phoebe Philo's, hence, not even in taste can I accredit creativity to myself), but it's nevertheless one hell of a markup. I love it not because it is an extension of a deeper part of my soul or a necessity for life (clothes are just clothes), but because it is so utterly replete in its foolishness. Whatever humanity is in clothes, it is because it is in us.
I am reminded by a quote from Fight Club, which has always struck me as unnecessarily bitter, but apt: "I would flip catalogues, and wonder, 'What kind of dining set defines me as a person?'." This is meant to be a scathic critique of our ever total slavery to consumerism, but I think it exemplifies something even simpler (and far less soapbox-y): This is a deeply stupid question. And it is the nature of stupid things to draw judgement, just as it is the nature of wise things to judge us.
And that, I suppose, is the fundamental difference between creativity and expression. One judges, the other is judged. Delicacy of regard does not save us, "should be" does not save us, and if we start to believe that they can, we are guilty of intellectual cowardice. Fashion has rules because it is a social construct, because it is ridiculous, because it is not a wise or creative thing. The greater things, as love and hate, do not have rules, even if we experience it the same way over and over again. But the principles of openmindedness that apply to art, cannot be applied to the hanging of art, and so, while there is creativity is fashion design, it is not the same when it comes to wearing those designs.
Shopping is not (for me, anyway), about consumption, or social rightness. It seems to be about a display of the most exquisite taste I can muster. We are complex people, but through clothes, we channel one aspect or another. Choosing what someone else has already made, as a way to express ourselves, is just not creativity, but expression. Again, it is true that outfits require creativity, which is what I believe Raphaëlle means, but... it is not the same. It is comparable to a maker of short-story anthologies—you have not written them, but you have compiled them together as taste and discretion and availability and subject matter allow.
Cosmetics, I should note, are different. You make what it is, the clothes are already made. Putting on your face everyday would be the equivalent of stores selling you yarn and needles, and you knitting a sweater afresh every day.
My First Thoughts
Posted by Raphaelle, Friday, August 19, 2005 7:51 AM (Eastern)
The title is reminiscent of some children's toys but mostly, it's about how this blog makes me feel. I read all your posts and I'm intimidated a bit. All of you analyze fashion and style in a way I can't. I don't feel competent to participate in these discussions/dissertations. My mind just doesn't work that way. It's much like analyzing paintings, sculptures, writing. I've never been good at that and I've always known it. I don't mind. I've just always been more like the artist than the critic. I read a book and the best I can do is analyze what I liked and didn't like. I can't draw parallels between the book and the writer's life, I can't see anything particular in the choice of words. I'll can't pick out trends from fashion shows or define what style is. The same goes for all forms of art.
I'll have a vision of what I want and I'll try to reproduce it. It's the way I function when I write, paint, draw, dance, put on makeup, dress, cook... When it comes to fashion, function comes into play but still, I know exactly what I want an outfit to look like and I can spend years looking for the perfect item for a specific outfit. I'm usually told I'm well dressed and have style but, much like the artist, I'm never quite content. There's always a detail that doesn't quite work like I want it to. And if I ever reach perfection in an outfit, it doesn't take long for me to tire of it or for one of the items to die.
This rather artistic perspective on the world is what makes me hesitant to criticize or praise anything. Almost every person I see, no matter how awful I think their appearance, has something interesting. Some detail that I can appreciate, sometimes even incorporate into my own "work". I don't believe in rules, or rather absolute truths. I can't. They stifle creativity. Temporary rules will stimulate it by creating obstacles to overcome but absolute truths? Those rules like "Never wear this with that, ever"? I say to hell with them. They don't allow me to be me. Unless of course, the rule is "Wear a warm coat, hat, and mittens when it's -40 out"...
Posted by Dain, Friday, August 05, 2005 11:19 PM (Eastern)
We have a new guest blogger, Cat! She is my superstylish friend (from RL, as they say), who has an abiding love of quality fashion, and an impeccable eye. She and I long used to joke that we had absolutely opposite tastes in clothing, but it has actally drawn closer over the years—she wears more color (though still not a patterns girl, that one), and I make more conservative choices... Rather funny, in that way. At any rate, this will be her LP debut! Welcome, Cat!
More style ramblings...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 4:08 PM (Eastern)
It is well-known, whenever you return to a (figurative) place and time in your life, you tend to revert to however you were at that time and in that place.
High school or family reunions...it's not that those people make you feel the way you used to; I don't believe that. It's that you yourself feel the way you did before, and tend to assume the shape of what you were before, if you're not careful.
I realized...again, trying to put my finger on what is style and what isn't. It's not confidence, exactly. You can be completely confident and still look like hell. That's not it.
Self-knowledge comes closer but that is not it either. So, I know I look lousy in a miniskirt? Fine; I don't wear one.
Purpose...I feel that comes the closest. But that really isn't it. Perhaps it's easier, somehow, to define style when it's missing, than define exactly what it is in the first place.
I was one of those ugly ducklings. It's difficult for girls. It's all in the mind; I look nothing now the way I did before. But...mojo? Groove? Whatever it is, I did not possess it when I was growing up. I was the quintessential geek long before I knew how to exchange the values of two variables without creating a third variable (it can be done btw).
A bad sign is when you start changing clothes. I never do that anymore; I just don't. I look at the weather, then see what's clean in the closet, then find a shirt, jeans, Doc Martens.... If the shirt is too skimpy, I put a vest over it. As far as jackets, it's either denim or leather. shrugs
I'd rather put my hair up. It's almost always windy around here. I'd rather wear earrings as long as my hair is up. I have some old and new earrings.
When your mojo is missing, somehow it never works that way. You fret. You end up wearing something you never normally wear. Nothing fits. You feel fat. Or skinny. Your hair won't behave. Nothing matches. Who the heck is that person in the mirror? The poor sod, you think.
I mean I realized this consciously today. How much the inner frame of mind, affects the exact same exterior. The same clothes, the same body, the same face!
More jewelry ramblings...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Thursday, August 04, 2005 10:59 PM (Eastern)
I'm wearing my cool amber earrings today. My daughter chose these...she is my fashion consultant.
I went through virtually all of the amber earrings on the stand; I've never owned amber earrings before. There were the usual deep reddish-brown stones, the deep green ones, and then these deep goldeny yellow ones that I ended up buying.
Again--you cannot touch amber with soap. I tend to wash my earrings, the wires at least, in soap and water, but for delicate stones you must carefully wash only the wires and never let soap touch the stone.
These look so cool and so Russian, in a sentimental way.
I do not believe in wearing all new jewelry. To me it looks...tacky somehow. As if you owned absolutely nothing, went into a shop, and got everything yesterday. Whether or not this happens to be true, style is all about, well, appearances...isn't it? I dislike the impression. So it's well to mix a new piece in with older pieces, until it becomes an older piece itself.
Mmmm...I'm still chewing on that Hello Kitty book. There's even a checklist...for all of your basics.
I knew I liked that kitty...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 12:20 AM (Eastern)
Here is an excerpt from Hello Kitty's little book of big ideas by Marie Y. Moss. Ms. Moss, according to the liner notes, served as fashion director for Seventeen magazine, and has appeared as a teen fashion expert on television shows such as Oprah, and MTV's House of Style.
Oh, sure, when Mama first started trying to convince her that a closet full of basics was the best way to begin a well-rounded wardrobe, all Hello Kitty could think was BORING! What could a trendy girl possibly want with a package full of solid T-shirts, ho-hum basic jeans, and a no-style hooded sweatshirt? The answer, she soon saw, was everything. She figured out that these basics were just like the blank canvas of a painter. Hello Kitty could start in search of an outfit by pulling on her own blank canvas of solid essentials, then add colors and textures to individualize her look.
Well that's just put a few hundred personal-style consultants out of a job! Ask the Kitty, I tell ya, ask the Kitty.
The allowance money saved by buying long-lasting basics meant more than a few dollars left over for snapping up trendy accessories, cool notebooks, and a few style-making pieces of clothing to mix things up a bit.
Hello Kitty has a boyfriend too evidently (I am the last one to know). A nice outfit is described as a cotton shirt with a cardigan layered over it, topping khaki pants, with a heart-shaped locket (containing a photograph of that mysterious boyfriend), a tote bag, and canvas sneakers.
... Another way she experiments with different mix-and-match schemes is by simply spending an afternoon trying on her things in all possible combinations. ...Hello Kitty likes to pull out her instant camera and photograph the looks that make the cut so that she can tape them inside her closet door for easy reference.
What a bitchin' idea! What a great idea. Hello Kitty must be a programmer, that is, she would be if programmers knew how to dress. *g*
There's much more pithy advice here of course; it is a 70-page, hardcover book.
Here is the copy I have:
Apparently there's a spiral-bound version too:
More jewelry thoughts...
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, August 03, 2005 9:39 PM (Eastern)
Why jewelry? I suppose there is more sentimentality associated with durable goods. I'm far more attached to, say, my leather jacket, than I am to any article of clothing that's going to wear out within a few years and need to be replaced anyway.
Plus, to me jewelry is like makeup. It's something I didn't have as a child. Not in the sense of developing a style. I still have a brooch my father gave me...and a mustard-seed pendant from my paternal grandmother. And...oddly...I still have a pair of small garnet beads that I bought (as earrings, mounted on wires) at a street fair in Norfolk, Virginia in the mid(?) 1970's. They're too small for me to wear now, so now they belong to my daughter, when she's old enough to wear earrings.
Sentimental value is key to me. Possibly that is because I am from what qualifies as an "old" part of the country. Norfolk is more than 300 years old. Old is not always bad. I remember...and you will laugh...that the kids used to step on new sneakers for you. (I'm not sure if I did this myself, but I have seen it done.) Some kid would come in with brand new sneakers and the other kids would helpfully step all over them for him. Newness was annoying.
I spent every summer at my grandparents' house as a child. My grandfather was an engineer and my grandmother was an artist. So I suppose that is an influence too. Their house had many items in it that were very old, and...fixed? They didn't go shopping that I can ever remember, except for stuff like eggs and canned soup. Yet the house had everything in it; it felt perfectly complete.
Where was I? So, I have bought some jewelry. There are tons of it in Berkeley but of course I don't buy it just anywhere. The price has to be right. The store has to be small. Why? Communism is dead? The small business is important. It is the small business person who develops relationships with customers. And there you will find the best stuff.
I'm debating now, whether or not I need green earrings. (No, I do not spend all day ruminating about this. This is a fashion blog. Here you should find escapism, or what's the point?) Do I? I don't want them if I don't need them.
I have some amber earrings: amber ovals mounted on sterling silver frames, Indian or Thai style. My gosh, they are fantastic. My daughter selected them. You can wear amber with green, and they look...Russian...with my leather jacket.
That rather rules out the green earrings. I have a green bracelet though, one of those agates...I think it is an agate. It's an intense emerald green, another oval. Oval is my favorite stone shape.
You should never wash amber stones with soap and water. It dulls them instantly. Just thought I'd throw that in.
So...forget the green earrings. If I can get away with wearing the amber ones instead, so much the better.
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, August 02, 2005 9:36 PM (Eastern)
Weeeellll...ya left out a couple of factors in what makes style. One is--utility. Perhaps not a direct function, as in wearing, say, a rubber thimble on your finger, or steel-toed boots. lol What can I say? Style to me has never been a product of leisure; it has always had an underlying purpose. If you remove the purpose, the construction has no meaning.
That could be partly because I am an engineer. To me, function is decorative. And partly because I am an American. We have a class system, but we do not have a caste system. It's quite different; we've never had royalty.
Where did jeans...the very symbol of success, or so it would seem...come from? Why did the world fall in love with the jean? Who else could have invented the jean. It is the sheer utility...thick denim, rivets, tough cotton thread that nails the seams...that is the beauty.
That's not even going into the denim jacket, the tee shirt, the tan, for that matter....
Another factor is age. The longer you own something...either you love it more or you love it less. You seldom see it exactly the same way you did ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
So...to me, something acquires more value the older it gets, assuming you didn't give it away or toss it out. I suppose there are fake-aged products around, but they never look the same as genuinely aged products.
Another factor is wearing something that was made by hand. Something imperfect, or so individual that it's just as good as imperfect. These products contain a fragment of the spirit of the person who made them. They are different from anything mass-produced.
This may all be working class natterings, but I don't think so. These are the very factors that are copied whenever they can be, but like any other copies, they are...well, just that.
Discounts, luxury goods, conspicuous consumption, and all the shades of the fashion spectrum...
Posted by Dain, 9:12 PM (Eastern)
I've been thinking a lot about the topic of high versus low-end fashion and cosmetics, partly through the influence of Joan DeJean's The Essence of Style (with its subtitle: How The French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, And Glamour), and partly because, for the first time in my life, I have several thousand dollars of my own at my disposal.
There are three things I spend money on: books, cosmetics, and food. None of which I intend to change my patterns on. I buy books with abandon, and occasionally my parents wonder why I don't borrow from the library instead. I shrug, and tell them I like to own books. They don't seem to grudge me it. After all, I do read books for a living (and the written word is responsible for where I am today). Cosmetics? I'm pretty conscientious about my purchases, even if I go on the occasional eyeshadow spree. As for food, it's more a matter of personal priority. I simply love good food. I would rather dine out exquisitely for a week than ever buy the most glorious handbag in the world. Yes, that's right. I'd rather have the opportunity to eat well than own a $30,000 Hermès croc Birkin.
That's pretty much how my consumer universe is ordered—books, food, cosmetics... and fashion is the last of the four. Which is funny, when you think about it. I'd rather starve than be without books... I'd rather be naked than never taste confit du canard again.
But this should give you a pretty good idea of my relationship with fashion. Which is to say, ambivalent. I love beautiful, crafted things, and I love "style", in that it displays a woman's inventiveness, character, taste, and above all, how well she knows herself. Sometimes I think that is really why we bother with "fashion" at all—it advertises to men and women both, instantly and without the trouble of saying so, "I know who I am, and I am comfortable in my own and purchased skins." This can lead to problems, however. In the interest of showing that we are grown-up and cool, we sometimes forget the other three, invention, character, and taste. It is the first most frequent fashion mistake: to buy clothes and accessories for the image they project, rather than balancing the need to impress with taste (which is nine parts discretion and one part audacity), invention (a cleverness that has little to do with book smarts), and character (personality). This formula makes fine dressing sound calculated, which it is, but a lot of it is instinctual. Most women who dress well employ all of these by instinct—at best, they know the clothing is beautiful in general, that flatters them in particular, and works together to produce a happy, harmonious whole.
The second most frequent fashion mistake is to be a slave to trends. This goes beyond knowing what you can and cannot wear. This is fashion in the sense of à la mode, deriving from a sense of wanting to stay "current", which really means, "like other people". I disapprove of trends in general. My sister and I were looking at an issue of Lucky: "Look at all the espadrilles! Are you going to get any?" "No," I replied, "Don't buy any of them. It's just a cheap trend." This has nothing to do with the platonic idea of espadrilles—though, most of them are pretty ugly... but if there's a too fabulous pair, by all means, buy them—it's the idea that the fashion industry has decided that I should buy them if I want to appear cool. That's the whole idea behind a trend.
Of course, there are some trends that are unavoidable. Low-rise jeans, for example. And the low rise is actually a good idea, given that they fit better on most women. But low-rise jeans are more than a seasonal trend, but a lasting trend over several years. It is the idea that "black is in" this fall, and "cowboy boots are out" kind of dogma that I object to. Who decides that, pray? The people we pay, goddammit. Does that make sense to you? You give these people $1000 and they get to rule your mind and body both.
Now, I'm too short to wear cowboy boots (though I like them), but am I going to give up my round-toe pumps? Hell no! They look great on my small feet and slender ankles regardless of the vagaries of fashion. My feet and ankles won't change, even if fashion does. And you know what? No one minds. No one tells me that I'm out of step with the industry. Indeed, just the opposite. They gush. Which leads me to think, if a thing works perfectly, then it does so for some other reason than its trendiness or lack thereof. Does it transcend...? Well, no. That happens only very rarely; for the most part the majority of what can be found do fit in with the bigger, general trends (try finding a pair of high-waisted bellbottom jeans nowadays), so there is an inclination for a item of clothing to look dated no matter what. And people change, throughout their lives, so what was proper at twenty is no longer proper at forty. But "things you love and look great in" can transcend trends for a short time (and if you're lucky, forever).
This brings to my next topic, quality and conspicuous consumption. They are not the same thing. Quality is either determined by sheer artistry or craftmanship. Sometimes, this yields delicate constructions that should be worn rarely, if at all, but more often, we think of quality as defined by durability. The material is the highest quality, the stitching is exquisite, the shape and cut perfection. These things are, consequently, extremely expensive. Most people reserve suits, bags, shoes, and jewelry for the "big" purchases, therefore. I'd like to add: pants (both trousers and jeans) and lingerie. I've found that two pairs of great jeans is both more economical and stylish than fifteen pairs of lesser quality. And pokey underwire is just annoying.
And then, on the heels of "quality", comes the phenomenon known only as "conspicuous consumption". Invented by the royalest of royals, Louis Quatorze, and his faithful commoner right-hand man, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (at least according to Essence of Style). Frankly, conspicuous consumption makes me a little green around the gills. It's worse than being a slave to trends, it's sheer metaphysical irresponsibility. 500 pairs of designer shoes is psychotic, but 3000 pairs (Imelda Marcos)? That should be criminal. It's not a waste of money, but a waste of life. Really, 50-100 ought to be the healthy limit on such fanaticism. Another example is "status" clothing, though this is generally translated into "status" accessories, particularly bags. The infamous Hermès, the Kelly and the Birkin, yes, they're exquisite, but yes, they are $5000 (at the least) with a ten-year waiting list. And then there are the Louis Vuitton bags, the Marc Jacobs bags, the Balenciaga bags, the Dior bags, the Tods bags, the Burberry bags, the Prada bags, the... you get the picture. It's weird. I understand it, but I don't. Most of these bags are profoundly ugly, though expensively made. That doesn't seem enough, to me. I have a particular horror of the LV Monogram, though for some queer reason I like the luggage (someday, I'd like to own a Keepall). All I know is, there is a subset of girls at my school that my roommate and I term "Ugg Thugs": Seven jeans, Burberry scarf, Ugg boots, and a LV or Longchamp tote. It horrifies me, as a compilation of all the things I hold profane in fashion: trendiness, wanting to "fit in", unflattering and/or ugly things, and wasteful prodigality.
So what will I buy, after all this? I've been thinking about it, and:
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