Helpful reminder

posture posture posture (it makes a huge difference).

Look up

while walking, if i look up, i am less likely to hit a wall. similarly, if i look up (age-wise, to those ahead of me) for my muses, i won't hit a wall of foolishness. the media loves youth - it sells shampoo, perfume and wrinkle cream so well. with so many young wannabes aping maturity with their chanel bags and coifed hair, i personally enjoy the role model the olsen twins provide to the tweens and teens. that's their audience. they're doing a decent job of promoting experimental style, individuality and literally zero sex appeal. that's fine. i don't understand why 30 year olds roll their eyes at them. they aren't meant for them. as a grownup, i like to keep my eyes trained on women.

are the women/men who inspire you older or younger (than you)? does it matter?


1. if you had to wear head-to-toe designer every day you would feel _____.
2. if you had to wear a long pants, long sleeve jumper every day you would feel _____.
3. if you had zero choice in what you wore, you would feel _____.
4. if you could wear whatever you wanted to, but people always saw the jumper, you would feel _____.
5. if you wore the jumper, but could control what people thought they saw you wearing, you would feel _____.
6. if you had to wear the same outfit for 1 month, but could alter your hair/makeup, would you? how often?
7. when was the last time you altered your hair/makeup?

On the ball

i don't know if things like this define a fashion fanatic or a fashion victim. the sheer camp of it is somewhat charming, but still... in the reality of the business of fashion, the glow of brilliant design casts a light on the perfumes, the sunglasses, the underwear, the purses (oh lordy, the purses) which then in turn bring in the enormous wealth which can support the fashion business. far more people buy the logo than the look.

in what ways, if any, does your enthusiasm cross a line?


pick the keeper: choose one item from this picture that you think you would want to wear for at least 3 years - meaning, it would not become dated, out-of-fashion or lose it's appeal (to you).

Practically fabulous

did you know that there are over 12 ways to fold a 16x16 inch piece of silk, to be worn in the breast pocket of a jacket for a debonair touch - though few modern men, and fewer women, dare. in old movies, men pulled them out to offer weeping women who probably had their own stashed in their purse (along with a smoking gun). it would require very extreme circumstances for me to accept a proffered handkerchief (in the unlikely event that one was presented), nor would i sacrifice one of my silk squares for anything more than decoration. in fact, mine came with a warning that rain might damage the pattern. yet the origin is one of utility; a pocket square is a glamorous handkerchief, which is, or was, an ecologically responsible tissue.

fancy restaurants offer stools for women's fancy bags (bags surely are a workhorse accessory, even if it's a show pony), but it may just be a matter of time before a bench is needed for the stool (hyperbole of course, but you see my point).

watches, sunglasses, trench coats and hats are items high on style and practicality.

what items of fashion work for you?


name one thing you would add or subtract here (you can't do both).

(from yeohlee fall '07,

Tip the balance

most shopping pursuits are begun in search of, and reach a satisfying conclusion when i find the item that is so me. something just clicks when it's right (so many things are right so often). there is no rational involved, just a feeling. this is convenient, but also perhaps limiting, if i get lazy and fly on auto-pilot. sometimes it just takes a very very small thing to jolt me awake and keep me on my toes.
there are habits we fall into (which wrist you wear your watch on, which way you wear your belt, whether you fold or scrunch your socks), and then it's hard to tell which came first, the routine, or the comfort it brings.
it's useful or important...or amusing to challenge what you're comfortable with sometimes, even if it's just to conclude that your watch bugs the h*** out of you on the "wrong" wrist. but spending a day aware of it isn't really a bad thing.

are there little things that you take for granted/never question, and just do by rote? anything you would be willing to change for a day?

Turn, turn, turn

reindeer pins, noses glowing red courtesy of a 1.55V watch battery, stuck on lapels, and little foil-wrapped gift boxes dangling off of lobes are down the road. people incredibly buy, and then, apparently immune to regret, save and revisit these sartorial season markers. you know it's holiday time when the person shoving ahead of you in line is wearing a red and green striped scarf. but beyond festive, merry-making muffs, what about just recognizing that summer is over (whenever it is, wherever you live)? put the hunt for a sun dress on hold, stop trying to figure out if you can put on moisturizer under or over sunblock (well, we're supposed to use the stuff year-round, so does anyone know??), make sure you've got some tea in the house... i'm looking forward to bracelets on over cardigan sleeves (i love love that), and i am thinking about short red nails, deep simple red - i usually don't get around to it, but it lets me know that my gears are shifting and fall is creeping into my head.

do you, stylistically speaking, mark the change in seasons?

What's on the page

reading: reflections on fashion extremists by doonan, singer, toledo & koda (page 101) 4 pages; short highlight of philip lim (page 52) 1 page; highlight of (or introduction to) pleasure principle (page 56) 1 page; opinions by hershkovits, magnuson, o'brien & dermody (page 64) 5 pages; on wearing a daily uniform by hastreiter (page 76) 1 page.
looking: illustrative interpretations of select runway looks by members of creative growth (page 78) 22 pages; shockingly brilliant brilliant brilliant fashion shoot "an arty fashion" (page 130) 12 pages (i have never seen clothing presented so far removed from their intended styling, and yet celebrated and examined for their beauty and design more clearly than if they were laid out plain - and all done so painfully simply. yes, painfully. the greatness of this shoot actually hurts).
total number of pages in this issue: 160
surely the most i have ever read in a september fashion issue of any magazine: 46 so far - i am not at all finished with this issue yet.


1. if you had a boutique, you would sell to (pick one) women/men/women & men.
2. you prefer to shop in stores that sell to (pick one) women/men/women & men.
3. if you did not work, you would wear _____ most days.
4. if you were a student, you would wear _____ to class.
5. if you were a politician, you would wear _____ on the job.
6. if you were a teacher, you would wear _____ on the job.
7. if you were an artist, you would wear _____ most days.
8. the best-dressed t.v. character is _____.


pippi longstocking (young inger nilsson). come on, the girl was named after her signature choice in hosiery! she had a monkey, she lived alone, she could ride a horse, heck, she could lift a horse! she liked her boots a few sizes too big so she could wiggle her toes. she just was herself, mismatched stockings and all.

If the shoe fits

it is common to be inspired by an individual, and to hold that person's style as a yardstick for a desired aesthetic, but while i find people endlessly interesting, as a measure for staying on course for myself i am more inclined to hold up particular items of clothing as a censor/guide. while i haven't owned a pair in years and years and years, there are a number of characteristics attributable to the doc marten that i persistently relate to - you have to break them in to really own them, they get much better with age, they are durable, they are no-nonsense, they are stable and in turn stabilize you, visually they create a firm foundation from which i prefer to pick up volume (i don't do "tapered"). they, or their relatives have been featured on runways off and on, and seeing them immediately makes the clothing more accessible to me, but i can just as easily consider pairing them in my own mind, even if i don't do it in my closet. i don't always do it, i don't even do it frequently, but it is a good sign - if i can see it with docs, i can see it on me.

are there any objects, clothing or otherwise, that inspire and inform your style? do you have a material muse?

Look back in anger

there are moments in our lives where fashion is self-expression, a companion, a shield, and sometimes part of the event itself. yes, every single day is a great reason to wear whatever you want and to express your style, but there are some days that stand out, some days that are different, a bit more special. we're all entitled to a grand entrance or 2. i've had mine i think. while i could use the logic that how i dressed reflected the me at the time, i also feel a bit better equipped to assemble a statement-making ensemble now, or simply better able to identify an occasion to wear one. hindsight is 20/20 and all that. then there is the option too of tossing expectation (others', your own) aside, not pandering to the audience you might find yourself facing, and dressing purely for yourself.

are there particular outfits you regret, or occasions you would have dressed differently for, if you could do it again?

(lanvin resort 2008 from


my immediate family introduces me to their new purchases with a mixture of caution and hopefulness. perhaps i won't close my eyes and shake my head slowly. maybe, just once, i'll squeal with delight and congratulate them on their amazing taste. hasn't happened yet, but a person can dream. growing up my interest in clothing, when it was addressed at all, was always been met with a little appreciation (helpful advice whenever you want it -- i do try to give them a chance to solicit it first) and a little resentment (i guess there might be something frustrating about living with a critic who can figuratively ruin a new skirt not 20 minutes into owning it).
i've never had a close relationship with a style-inspiration. i have no theatrical aunt, no debonair uncle. the other day my mom just couldn't accept another dictum and challenged, "how on earth can the length of a purse strap make that much of a difference?"
how on earth can she not understand?

does style run in your family?

14 names

how to play:
it's a word search. there are 14 names hidden here, each one is a designer's first name that is also part of the designer's label's name (e.g. anna sui... oops).
how to win: find 'em.
what to do after that: first person to find all 14 should
1. post the comment "done!" in the comment box so that anyone else still struggling knows that the game is up (don't post the list in case someone else is still doing it... just for fun). don't type "done" in the comment box unless a. you really are done, and b. you are comfortable giving me your address (see point 2 below).
2. email me ( the list of the 14 names you found (it's not that i don't trust you, really) with their corresponding last names and an address where i can send you a small (be realistic) prize. i'll post something official like "yup" in the comment box if the submitted list is complete.
3. after the first "done" comment, and my "yup" confirmation, the game is over. :)


lately i've been taking full responsibility for my appearance. money, choices, time, creativity, all out the window as far as justifications for dissatisfaction (my own).

what is your #1 reason/explanation for days when you are not satisfied with your appearance/outfit?


name one thing you would add or subtract here (you can't do both).

(from betsey johnson fall '07,


self-called "low-tech illusionist," artist vik muniz. the impermanence of his creations, the ability to secure it through photography, and the movement and softness he creates with any material, malleable, rigid, or edible.

One for all

with fashion, while there are endless variations, what are we really dealing with, 5 basic options? top, skirt, pants, dress, jacket. did i miss anything? pants can be short (shorts), or long, wide, narrow, cuffed, pleated, etc. with tops there are issues of sleeves, collars, chunky knits, etc. the jacket can be a blazer, a cardigan, and so on, but essentially we could say we're dealing with 5 things, at the core. it's incredible how so very different a piece can look, and how much you can hate or love one, for various reasons. and how different the very same piece, can look on different people.

what would you say is the most universally flattering piece of clothing?

The test of time

i dog-eared these pages from a runway magazine...years ago, and still love them now. either my taste doesn't change, the cycle of fashion has come full circle, or these are irrefutably great looks (okay, okay, i will concede that some might challenge that assertion, since what is fabulous is highly subjective, so that just brings us back to the first option).

do you ever revisit past favorites and find that they have lost their appeal?

Are you being served

in amsterdam, shop staff everywhere i went were truly friendly. it was the first time i enjoyed exchanges with sales people ever. friendly, informed, curious and helpful. prior to that experience, i would have said that my ideal shopping experience involves zero contact with sales staff until i need to pay at the register.

what is your ideal relationship with a sales person?

On the menu

there are so many choices, at so many price points, with every imaginable cut, fit, color, fabric, label and length... is anyone missing anything? sometimes, with the amount and variety being offered,
it is hard to tell if i'm settling for anything or if i'm choosing exactly what i want.

is there any one piece of clothing that you cannot find, or have not seen to meet your specifications?


1. if you were a designer, _____ is the label with the most similar aesthetic to what you would create.
2. true or false, you own 1 or more pieces from the label you listed in question 1.
3. the hardest job in the fashion industry is _____.
4. the ideal job in the fashion industry is _____.
5. have you ever attempted to make a garment, any garment, by yourself?
6. true or false, you would like to know what the inspiration was for your favorite item of clothing.
7. true or false, if it were publicized that a designer you respected and admired did or said something that offended you, it would effect your feeling towards the clothing.
8. true or false, you find the designer of your favorite label(s) mentally or physically appealing.

Who's who

toledo came to anne klein, suddenly the label's in barneys. vera's at kohl's, erin's coming to target. claiborne bought kate. for theyskens, rochas closed and ricci opened. elbaz is lanvin. ford left and gucci survived. valentino is out and facchinetti is in. if you bought a shirt from doo-ri's gap design edition, do you have a shirt from the gap or doo-ri?

which matters more to you, who the designer is, or where the designer is?

Brain drain

a new item usually wins its place in my imagination and closet because i find it compelling and at least for some period, i get a bit fixated on it, the rare accessory even more so. a purse, shoe, ring, bracelet, necklace can become distracting eye candy for me, even if it's my own. clothing always wins my approval by inspiring zero self-consciousness (the result of physical and mental compatibility), but i make an exception for the small things (and only seem to wear those items when i can afford to enjoy them and don't have bigger things to focus on).

do your clothes drive you to distraction, or are your choices pieces that don't attract your own attention?


Victoire de Castellane: thoroughly committed to her aesthetic and enviably employed.

Good neighbors

in antwerp, i was initially very pleased to find that there were 5 wonderful stores, all perfect for my taste, within a 4 block area located 2 blocks from our hotel. then i considered that the stores chose their similar locations and proximity to one another to best attract a very similar audience. i felt predictable. in amsterdam, this concern was challenged when my 2 favorite stores were located at a significant distance from one another, in entirely different areas, and with very different clientele, albeit one shopping for not dissimilar items. would this indicate that i was inconsistent. then i considered that i was happily shopping thousands of miles from home either way.

are your favorite stores all in one neighborhood?
would you like that convenience, or prefer more diversity?

Color coding

dating back to medieval times, people wore black to funerals because it was believed that the spirit of the deceased couldn't recognize the family or friends and follow them home. the color white has been a symbol of joyous celebration since early roman times, but i think everyone in western culture these days associates white for brides with the early twentieth century meaning of purity. some color meanings are passed along through tradition, their original significance perhaps no longer pertinent to the occasion or participants, but rituals are rituals. they generally only effect us wardrobe-wise on rare milestones. nonetheless, i have been thinking about it and cannot decide if these color-coded rules for certain roles in our lives are comforting signifiers or inhibitors. i wonder how long they will last.

to what extent do you adhere to color codes?
would you embrace more extensive rules: blue for first day on the job; yellow for retirement; green for birthdays, etc.?

Give 'em an inch

at the moment, all of my clothes fit into my closet. this is the first time that i have not had to store items for the winter - i have separate pieces for the seasons, but i'm able to have them all out at once. there are advantages and disadvantages to seeing everything at once, but primarily what i see is that i have the space. if i wanted to store seasonal pieces (i don't)... i would have more space.

is an empty hanger an invitation to shop, or is space not a factor in acquisition?


1. you spill tomato soup on one, top or bottoms. which is worse?
2. your friend wants to borrow your favorite trench coat - do you lend it?
3. the dry-cleaner damages an irreplaceable favorite top of sentimental value. do you keep it or toss it?
4. you lose one very expensive glove. what do you do with the remaining glove?
5. at the beginning of the day, a colleague notices that you lost a botton on your top. when do you replace it?
6. the new top from your favorite designer has an especially bothersome label. do you leave it in or cut it out?
7. you've received a gorgeous new sweater as a gift that goes with nothing in your closet. you already have a list of 'need to buy' items, and none of those will suit it either. do you add a companion for it to the list, or set the sweater aside and wait?
8. how much damage can an item have before it is deemed unwearable?