Code green

green gifts are getting a lot of media coverage this year. honestly, i would not mind if, as a gift, someone planted a tree or adopted a manatee (for me). but after december comes january, and then february, and then march, and then a few more months until my birthday, and then i don't keep track again until we run the whole cycle and get closer to my birthday again, but all the while, the ozone keeps getting depleted and a whole mess of other related problems contribute to yet more problems, and i keep shopping. i'm saying it's not exclusively a holiday problem. so on to a solution - if some how my constant shopping activity, let's say X, could some how be turned into a positive factor to offset global warming, we'll call that Y, then maybe i could single-handedly save the world or everyone could do it together. just a pipe dream?

which would be your preferred way for fashion to go green:

A. any item sitting unused in your closet for more than 4 weeks (during the appropriate season for the item) gets donated to a shelter or charity.

B. all your current clothing could last forever (indestructible...that means impervious to coffee and chocolate).

C. when you're done with an item, you plant it and a tree grows.

D. a % of every fashion purchase goes towards the manatee (or some equivalent, or some equivalent).

E. ______.

(if you're waiting for me to bring the x and y back into the equation to justify their introduction, i'm sorry to say i'm just going to leave them hanging.)

normal rockwell's 'night out'

Daily perils

life gets messy. besides fit and flatter, function is another "f" word that is relevant to the big F (fashion!). my idea of perfection is when clothing meets all three Fs. by function, i mean that you can function at normal capacity wearing the item. i don't tend to do fragile, personally.
if a beautiful new silk top gets ripped or stained during the course of a typical day, another f word is likely to come out, especially if the grape juice doesn't.

for some it's personal clumsiness, for others, cat hair (or cat claws, or cat irritable bowel...), pet hair in general, pet slobber, crayons...

do you have any particular daily hazards that take a toll on your clothes, or that simply play a factor in what you can and can't wear?


1. would you rather a giftcard, for a large amount, to a store you do not particularly care for, or a giftcard, for a small amount, to a store you adore?

2. would you rather get as a gift an item you wanted (and essentially chose, through incessant hinting), or one that totally surprises you, that you had not previously considered?

3. if you knew a friend wanted X very badly, but you thought it did not suit them, would you still buy it for them as a gift?

4. what is your protocol with gift disappointment? A. honesty, B. stealth return/exchange, or C. bury it in a drawer for all eternity.

5. if you gave someone a disappointing gift, which would be your preference for them? (see #4 for choices)

6. when buying a gift, you receive a 'free gift with purchase,' which A. goes along with purchase to the intended giftee, B. goes to the gifter (you) as a perk.

7. the gift-giving season is A. stressful, B. a fun, guilt-free excuse to shop.

8. you start your shopping for this season A. months in advance, B. at the last minute, or C. ______.

date it

can you guess which year this was from?

Pencil it in

there is really no need to have a reason to shop, but the calendar does come with a few built-in. cutting out the gift-giving incentives (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays) and the "shop now!" black friday imperative, and looking just at the impetus for personal-shopping, my primary cause for the shopping effect is the change in season. i used to reassess my needs and supplies when the weather still shifted with some degree of predictability, but with fall clothes being shown and shared via fashion runways in the spring, and spring collections revealed in the fall, it is possible that the industry preemptively jump starts the process in me, and gets the ball rolling. anyway, when i was younger, the seasons delivered an excuse to shop. i grew up without real seasons yet the magazines always got me drooling for corduroys in september for 'back-to-school' (those same corduroys got me panting in 90 degree heat, but that's another story).

as the beginnings of semesters and beginnings of vacations stopped defining my year, i found myself living across the country among the long-dreamed of seasons. real, actual, perceptible changes in weather. hot, cold, the works. the works are getting noticeably more and more gummed up, i'll admit. this year, summer lasted a long time, then it was suddenly winter, then it was fall for a week, then back to winter, then a day of spring and now it's winter again. but for me, september still means fall (blazers, cardigans), even if it's 80 degrees outside, and december is winter (hats, boots). spring (dresses) will roll around in april, even if it's snowing, and summer (sandals) comes in june. i'm programmed, i think, to make sure i have the necessary supplies, and if not, it's my job to shop for them.

if there were absolutely no seasons, and therefore no need for seasonal wardrobes (even if you live in a mild climate, the media heralds in the new season and delivers a sense of cycle), how would your shopping habits be effected?

Done deal

when a retailer puts a price on an item, that is the amount they reasonably expect some people to pay for it, that it ought to be worth that amount to someone. additionally, any product has an inherent value to the producer of it. the jaded among us can assume it's a fraction of the mark up, but every item does have some degree of value based on the cost of its production. when an item is marked down in price, and put "on sale," logically it is the retailer who suffers, as some of the expected profit is reduced as a compromise with a resistant customer. does it take away at all from the base value of the item though? if it costs less than before, is it at all worth less than before? for the customer who pays full price, the gleaming newness or the pleasure of perfection, or a need satisfied, all justify paying the full price.

if you knew an item or brand was never going to go on sale, would that make you more or less likely to buy it?


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


actresses, musicians, models, socialites, heiresses, even figure skaters and cowboys do it. many people harbor delusions of design talent. additionally, the market is flooded with underwhelming talent that is legitimately trained to work in the fashion trade. and then there are happy sparks of really really good stuff (which i think is the exception).

is there anyone (artist, author, photographer, poet, philosopher, etc.) who does not work in fashion (living or passed) who you would be curious to see what they might create if they did?

both: Hector Guimard


sorry so late - had to run out to snap these pictures.
yellow leaves. yellow leaves and grey bark.

Matter matters

if asked to provide a starting point for a line, or even a single piece of clothing, to be designed from scratch, what inspirations would you choose?

shako hat,art by louise bourgeois,dior,proenza schouler ss08

Rinse and repeat

i've been using shampoo for as long as i can remember. i've been obsessively buying and using conditioner for a long long time. one product is pretty much like the next, but i find myself drawn to the "directions for use," on each, reading them prior to purchase and prior to use. that in and of itself isn't so odd, if it weren't for the fact that i read them prior to use on a nearly daily basis. i'm not sure why. something to do while waiting for the water to warm up maybe. i only read the conditioner and treatment bottles, i might add. shampoos frequently recommend the idiotic "rinse and repeat."

magazines are filled with "do" and "don't" lists, there are books on style, books on colors, people who are paid to give their advice. some subscribe, some ignore. with products, i crave the line or 2 about application to wet or damp hair, the guidelines for 1-3 minutes or 5. i don't always follow them, but i like to read them. with fashion, when i'm not altogether ignoring them (98% of the time), i resent guidelines.

if your clothing came with instructions for use (how to wear them), you would _____.

Putting your best ____ forward

i never understand when shoe stores have low one foot tall mirrors on the floor that reflect how a shoe looks on a leg from mid-calf down. i can look at a shoe on a shelf and have enough imagination to envision it on a foot. what i want to see is how it makes me look, how i stand, what the whole picture is.

with clothing, i only try it on after it has passed certain aesthetic requirements on the hanger, so the reflection then is about how it makes me look. my face (a top, primarily the color), waist (top, bottom), derrière (bottom), legs (bottom) look. if i buy it, i must have concluded that it was all good. one happy picture to commemorate someone's birthday or a trip, family gathering, etc. can disavow me of that misconception once in a while. i guess i didn't look closely enough in the dressing room. or in the right place. or with the right critical eye.

what do you check for in your reflection when purchasing?

photograph: chuck close


i love the combination of certain items that i have with certain other items - like the perfect top for a particular pair of pants, or my favorite shoe with a particular dress. but in addition to contributing to a sum, the parts also exist ... as parts. what about independent favorites? items that you just love best for some quality that they have which sets them apart from your other comparable items? perhaps it's the color of a particular sweater, or the collar of a shirt. i think my idea of heaven is wearing head-to-toe favorites, regardless of their harmony with each other. but i also think that to my eye, a harmony would definitely exist between the pieces.

if you could pick each of your favorite individual items (favorite top, favorite bottom, favorite shoes, favorite hairstyle, favorite accessories, favorite hat, favorite hosiery, favorite outerwear, etc.) - and this can actually be hard to do once you pick one, because there is an inclination to think of the next item in relation to it - and wore them all at the same time, would it be an ensemble you would wear out of the house?


1. a strapless dress
an e-tailer versus an e-tailer

which of the above presentations is more appealing for this particular item?

2. a trench coat
the designer versus a retailer versus an editorial layout (this one is produced by an e-tailer)

which of the above presentations is the most appealing for this particular item?


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


1. in the dressing room, you see someone trying on a top you like very much (last one available, and in your size). it looks great on them. do you give them a compliment, dissuade them from buying it, or say nothing?

2. in general, circumstances neutral, do you give unsolicited opinions to fellow-shoppers?

3. if a great top that you really want has very light makeup on it, or (sorry) deodorant marks, what do you do?

4. you have been waiting for 20 minutes for a dressing room, it's your turn next and you just realized that your parking meter is about to expire. what do you do?

5. there is a 30 minute wait at the dressing rooms for your gender. the dressing rooms for the opposite gender are all empty, but a sales person tells you that you cannot use them because of your gender (even though they are all individual private rooms with doors). what do you do?

6. a sales person is giving more attention to your companion (who is not there to shop) than to you. what do you do?

7. the music playing in a boutique is so loud that you can't hear yourself think. what do you do?

Visitation rights

some items i bookmark, revisiting occasionally without intention to purchase. some store windows i make a point to slowly stroll past, enjoying the view without the commitment.

do you keep any fashion pets?

Beyond our control

i have always really liked my sign, my astrological sign, that explains my character and qualities, shifting responsibility for my flaws and making my talents irrefutable. for the most part, the profile is pretty accurate, and i'm not someone who subscribes to astrology, except when i do; i like to think i have free will and all of that, but some of that stuff is just spot on, and harmless fun. i decided to look around and see what the charts pointed to, fashion-wise, for me, and i deserved what i found. yuck! clearly the same people who determined that i'm adaptable and versatile, communicative and witty, cunning and inquisitive, superficial and inconsistent (hey, the truth shouldn't hurt) have no clue about taste. my taste. they really failed to predict that. in addition to suggestions that were off the charts, presumptions about my style were made based on personality traits associated with my sign. trendy and indecisive? me? i don't think so.

but, i do see one key consistency between my style and my astrological sign - the duality. very inconvenient when i'm shopping with one budget, to feel pulled in two different directions. for the most part, recently i've tried to stick with the side that leans to the practical (as i define it) and simple, and i let the contradicting impulse to futz with that pick the occasional accessory, but otherwise i suppress it. so far it works pretty well, and both of us, of me, are happy.

below are a few of the traits attributed to each sign

aries: adventurous, pioneering, courageous, enthusiastic, confident, impulsive daredevil
taurus: patient, loving, persistent, security-loving, possessive, inflexible
gemini: adaptable, versatile, intellectual, superficial, inconsistent, inquisitive
cancer: emotional, intuitive, shrewd, cautious, moody, clinging and unable to let go
leo: generous, creative, enthusiastic, broad-minded, faithful, dogmatic, patronizing
virgo: modest, shy, meticulous, practical, intelligent, diligent, fussy, overcritical, conservative
libra: urbane, romantic, easygoing, sociable, indecisive, easily influenced, flirtatious, self-indulgent
scorpio: determined, emotional, intuitive, passionate, jealous, compulsive, secretive
sagittarius: optimistic, freedom-loving, good-humored, straightforward, intellectual, careless, superficial, restless
capricorn: practical, prudent, humorous, patient, careful, reserved
aquarius: honest, original, inventive, independent, intellectual, contrary, unpredictable, detached
pisces: imaginative, sensitive, compassionate, kind, selfless, unworldly, intuitive, sympathetic, escapist, idealistic, secretive, vague, weak-willed, easily led.

do any of the traits from your astrological sign apply to your style?

Living in it

i love art nouveau. it makes me so so happy. so graceful, so stylized.
but i'm personally more of a craftsman bungalow.

if it came down to it, i would like to look at art nouveau, but i would like to live in that bungalow.

does the architecture you find most appealing correspond in any way with the fashion you choose?


if you had half your usual budget to spend on clothing, would you buy half of what you might normaly buy, or would you spend half of what you normally spend? that is, which would you cut, quality or quantity?

now, do you think if you had double your current spending money, you would buy twice as much as you do, or the same amount, but things twice as nice?

In the name of shopping

some people do crazy things in pursuit of shopping. some people have spent 40% of a paycheck on one item. some people plan a vacation destination based solely on the opportunity to shop. some people will spend a day browsing aimlessly, then happen upon a very beautiful item that is not in their size (nevermind that it's not even on their list of necessities... maybe because no such list exists), so they then travel across town to another boutique that carries the same brand, only to also come up empty handed, therefore forcing them to go home and send emails to each store soliciting help in procuring the item in the right size, and then calling the stores directly, getting a sliver of hope from one email response which leads them to a trail that ends across the country, and now, as you read, the item is en route to its new owner... but "crazy" is such a judgmental term. and as someone who has taken some (not all!) of the aforementioned actions, i advocate against passing too much judgment... at least pertaining to some of the aforementioned actions...

have you ever gone to any degree of an extreme to find/buy something? is your satisfaction with an item commensurate with the effort expended to acquire it in the first place?

Dollars & sense

growing up, i used to be think there was a conspiracy that i was so often drawn to the most expensive item within reach. a very impractical 6th sense. i liked to think that i was drawn to the quality. as an adult shopper, with more than accumulated babysitting earnings to splurge with, i have come to appreciate that a high price tag does not, for better or worse, guarantee quality, nor does it ensure satisfaction.
a friend recently complained about a $150 t-shirt she saw. with a cotton t-shirt, as with all things, factored into the mark-up is what a customer is willing to pay. the item with the greatest appeal carries with it the higher cost. while appeal is subjective, quality is not. yet i have seen great price disparities where quality is actually superior in the less expensive item. no question about it, production costs are a big factor, but i think so is the x factor that seems to create demand.

1. ?

2. ?

3. ?

is there any way to guess, among each pairing, which item would have the higher price, without knowing the store, the target customer, the brand or the quality?

Either or

you only have 2 choices for each, so pick one (and nope, no wiggle room):

1. either you unbutton the top 2 buttons of your shirt and the neck is still too high, or you unbutton a third button, and it's too revealing.

2. either you carefully preserve the pristine vintage kelly you were given, never using it, or you take it out every day and carry it until it falls apart.

3. either you wear an outfit you look terrific in, or one you feel terrific in (sadly, yes, they are mutually exclusive in this case).

4. either you buy the black sweater that you think might be perfect (but you're not positive), or you leave and never find one like it again.

5. either your shoes can look great with your outfit, or your bag can look great with your outfit.

6. (assuming you need to wear glasses) either you have the perfect hair, or the perfect pair of frames.


disclaimer: i know the following math is not perfect; all prices are full-price, pre-tax.
1. one pair of miu miu buckle-strap maryjane ballet flats ($385) =
2. one silk hermes 36in square scarf ($325) + one 150ml tub of philip kingsley elasticizer hair treatment ($42) =
3. one me&ro leather cord bracelet with a single 10k gold bead ($380) =
4. one comme des garcons animal print zip wallet ($200) + one pair maria la rosa cashmere (70% cashmere, 30% lycra) leggings ($195) =
5. one 3.1 phillip lim knot tie t-shirt ($175) + one theory "golda" pencil skirt ($190) =
6. one diane von furstenberg "ayuka" cap sleeve jersey dress ($385) =
7. one pair of frye "anna" mary jane flats ($148) + levis men's shrink-to-fit 501 jeans ($46) + one petite bateau long sleeve cotton t-shirt ($37) + one opening ceremony wool flap vest ($150)

when shopping, do you ever consider the value of an item in relation to other options?


once upon a time, in a land far far away, a very beautiful princess (or prince), lived in a perfect penthouse/cottage/mansion, and wore perfectly coordinated separates for every possible work, leisure and social occasion, and you can too.
catalogs are almost always storybooks, providing an attractive narrative to help define who there customer is, or who she(he) wants to be. to a lesser degree, most web sites effectively convey their image, and by association, the customer's, through their chosen graphics, even if the clothing isn't placed in literal settings. generally, i am disinclined to feel the appeal of the intensely happy models who populate the pages, wearing the clothing i am supposed to want to their make-believe jobs or while lounging with their make-believe friends, but i will admit that a nice minimalist site design has yielded a "bookmark" for a shop's site. a sparsely stocked boutique is a good thing (as long as they have more sizes in the back). in general, less is a lot more effective when it comes to marketing to me, but even the absence of a story is a conscious decision, and no less a tactic.
and i buy it.

what narrative do you like best? how would you respond to an entirely stark presentation, without a whiff of image implication or style direction? we're talking marketing-free (if it's possible).


i don't like this topic.
popular wisdom always says, don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. assumption being that you'll want more than you need, or inappropriate things. you'll basically deviate from your intended list of required items, driven by an appetite that you aren't even necessarily shopping to fill (ie you are doing your shopping for supplies for the week, not for an afternoon snack). so instead of sitting down and having a snack or meal to satisfy yourself and then shopping, you are taking that appetite into a store filled with food, and buying things dictated not by need or rational (a recipe, etc.) but by hunger.
i don't like this topic.
in addition to being a means to an end, simply satisfying my aesthetics (i like what i like) and vanity (i like to apply my aesthetics to my image/person/identity), i also use shopping as a comfort and as a reward/treat. if i have something on my mind, i might distract myself with some e-browsing. when i hit a deadline, i use that little accomplishment to justify finally making a purchase i had been hesitatant to make. (the transaction was probably inevitable, but i frequently use little justifiers like that to make myself especially comfortable with it, and to give an excuse/explanation for my decision: i earned it.)
i don't like this topic.
i wish shopping were, for me, 100% about buying the perfect pieces, or even 86%, but it isn't. and that effects the results, as timing is a factor. if i buy when i have an emotional appetite that shopping satisfies, then i am not necessarily choosing the best item, but probably more so reaching for the closest bag of chips. if i were shopping without the emotional component, i think the results would provide more long-term satisfaction. that is not to say that i would want to buy without emotion - no, falling in love with something is important, but i'm just talking about the urge to buy, more so than what i buy - that the urge to shop, in me, is often complicated by other feelings and needs.
i don't like this topic.
the reality is that i already feel like i have more than enough clothes. really more than enough... today i was feeling that i have too many, in fact (did i mention that i don't like this topic?). but i know i enjoy looking and finding and buying...
i should add that sometimes that other motivation for shopping, the emotional one, results in a purchase being more special because i then associate it with an accomplishment or some other similar celebratory circumstance.

are you aware that you ever shop for reasons other than a sartorial need? how does this inform the results and/or your satisfaction with an item?

Put it together

blazers, beautiful independent items, are one of the hardest things to pair, in my opinion. what would you put this cotton blazer with?