Category: Fashion

The White Shirt

And, oh my, the clothes. That scene where Annie, dressed again after the tennis match where she meets Alvy, emerges in her loose khaki pants, man’s shirt, waistcoat that unbuttons to reveal a wide tie, her hat framing her face, her sisal tote bag slung over her shoulder — that is the scene that launched a million ill-advised teenaged girls’ attempts at men’s wear.

from Annie Hall and Shopping Menswear

I’ve never owned a bucket bag, but I’ve riffed on the rest of the Annie Hall look at various stages of my life. I was a wee child when the film came out but Annie was still cool in 1988, 1992, 1997, 2003. I could never relate to her nerve-wracking flightiness but I could to the carefully rumpled three-piece suit. It said (and says), “I’m almost too smart to touch down properly.”
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That 70s Thing in Yellow

I’m in the mood for yellow. And that would make sense for half of the planet, which seems to have been experiencing the most snowy, dreary, plane-halting winter ever. But this mood has nothing to do with cabin fever. Here I am in a part of Texas which, until last week, frolicked around the 70s for most of December and January. My roses had barely stopped blooming since October, my front garden was spilling over with the sweet fragrance of alyssum, jonquils and violets.

And then came a terrible arctic front–a record-setting freeze over 3 days that just about killed half of my very un-hardy garden. So long, alyssum, snapdragons and all of my beloved sweet pea vines. I think I may have just lost my lemon tree but I haven’t the heart to look into my back garden to consider all the damage.

Normally, when I dream of spring, I dream of coral and pale shell-colored roses. Yellow is just not a color I like to paint, plant, photograph or wear. But seeing it in Marc Jacobs fun spring collection got me rethinking my aversion.

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The Camel Coat

A few years back there was a film version of the engrossing novel Possession by A.S. Byatt. You may know it only by the fact that it occasionally bobs up from the obscure depths of free Netflix recommendations. (Netflix, by the way, has decided that I like “Understated Comedies About Dysfunctional Families” by my ratings. I quickly ducked their radar by watching a slew of cheesy romantic comedies.)

Possession (the film) disappeared almost as soon as it appeared. I read the book in my early 20s and was engrossed for days on end, holing up in my smoky corner of Sitwell’s Coffeeshop with the rest of the desperate writers. (It is a writerly book about writers researching writers. Enough said.) A couple years later, I read in Mirabella magazine (the only magazine I have ever subscribed to, a combination of fashion and intellectualism, now sadly defunct) that it was being made into a film by Jane Campion, director of The Piano and last year’s absolutely lovely Bright Star.

Ten years went by, no Jane Campion movie. Read more

The French Stripey Tee

My last post on style resolutions got me thinking about doing a series on classic fashion pieces. I’ve not been so good up till now with “series”–I get so distracted.

So I was rummaging around fabric sites for some quality striped knit fabric from which to remake a long-sleeve striped t-shirt. I made a cotton black and white shirt last winter, but the fabric pilled terribly after one washing. I gave up, thinking that striped shirts are so ubiquitous I should just buy one, and then I got lost in a sea of online stores doing all sorts of sailor stripey things. I’m a sucker for stripes, but especially any kind of stripey t-shirt. It just oozes French style.

Of course the classic stripe is the Breton sailor shirt, going back to the late 1800s as the military-issue French naval uniform and is now an entrenched symbol of national pride. Famous wearers include Chanel:

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Some Style Resolutions

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions but I’ve got a lot of creative and personal goals that have been adding up since my momentous birthday two months ago, and I feel like setting them to sail this month.

Last year I started taking stock of my wardrobe as a way of acknowledging my age. I was soon to be 40, and that means something in terms of style and expression, right? While I wanted to challenge myself to me more experimental with fashion than I’d ever been I kept thinking about investing in some classics, things I’d want to always have around for the next 20 years.

I came across a book called The Pocket Stylist, which at first I was afraid would come down on the stifling side of fashion prescriptive-ness. I really don’t need prescriptions. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a kind of French motherly guidance on the art of dressing well. Understanding silhouette and composition on a body helps one’s style just as learning these basics in design make for better photographs. The book’s advice ranges from dressing for your figure to guidance on makeup and undergarments. It kind of bypasses all the now-ness of fashion to help a woman understand her DNA of style, no matter her age or lifestyle.

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Black and White Love

I am all about black and white right now. Give me a tuxedo jacket any day, any time of the year.

It’s so simple and so easy.

I get regular promotional emails from While most of their clothing is out of my price range, I love the editorials and the ideas. There are several online retailers doing this now, some even doing video. The most famous of these, of course, is with their weekly “magazine” editorials. They have the size and pull–one of the first online stores to sell big luxury designers–to commission videos with people like Stella McCartney and such.

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personal style and enjoying womanness

It has been a busy, busy fall. Lots of catch-ups on gardening, old friends coming into town, new babies being born, and turning 40.

What’s that, you say? Yes, I hit the big one. I started an eloquent post–actually, I started quite a few eloquent posts on a number of topics–but they are all sitting as “drafts” in my blog. I promise I’ll be back with my thoughtful post on turning 40 but for now, I am thinking about fashion a lot. More than I care to admit.

I’m an intellectual who loves fashion. I dream about it, I research it like mad (the internet has become a dangerous and yet amazing world for a fashion fiend), I have an insane collection of magazines (and Anthropologie catalogs, how I love you) falling all over the place. Twice a year, I spend time writing notes about what my “theme” is for the next season. Fashion is holistic for me; it’s not just about something cool to wear. It’s about storyboarding the next 6 months or so of my life. I think about colors, textures, shapes–where I see myself going and how to express that.

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Remember When?

I’m not sure I was old enough, but five shakes to the person who can guess what this AllSaints ad is riffing.

I was in this store a couple of years ago. Spitalfields itself is a fun place to shop, a little out of the way of other more obvious London destinations. It used to be a market, once a prominent neighborhood of textile merchants and weavers–mostly silk industry–but it declined in the Victorian era when silks started importing from France. There’s a whole story about Huguenots in there. I’m on the side of the Huguenots. Now the place has got a kind of warehouse arty feel.

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Lady Grey progress and thoughts on tailoring

Things are moving fast over at Gertie’s Lady Grey Sew-Along. Apparently I should be cutting out my muslin now. The muslin fabric is ironed and laid out on my cutting table, the pattern is half cut out, but time is short and limited. I figured I have a total of 4-5 sewing hours a week. One would think that is enough but I am working on three other projects, including an apron dress for my friend Hannah and a pair of trousers that I will be posting about soon. Another is a surprise.

I really love the fabric I chose for the coat. It came in last week and is just gorgeous. I can’t for the life of me decide on lining fabric, which needs to be ordered, and soon.

This sew-along is focusing on traditional tailoring techniques. It’s an unusual project to learn tailoring on; it’s not a traditional jacket or coat, and I’m not using wool. One of my goals for the next year is to actually make a tailored blazer. Read more

Norma Kamali and postmodern economy

Now I was just a wee lass when Norma Kamali came out with her famous “sleeping bag” coat and the Christie Brinkley bikini. My cultural memory filed her as one of the classic disco-sheen designers of the 70s, and there she lay. So when I bought a cool zippy anorak by “Kamali for Everlast” in a hunt for some funky non-yoga workout clothes, my fashion memory warmed up to the possibility of her return.

I loved that thing so much it reached a state of decay after too much painting and gardening in it. So I thought, in this day and age of you-and-me-and-everyone-we-know, of Bluefly via eBay, that I might be able to find another from someone else’s abandoned closet. I did find a few remaining Everlast pieces but discovered the brand had gone defunct. And instead I ended up at Norma Kamali’s website.

And this place is a blast.

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