Wanderlust


i’m taking a trip later this week (i’ll be gone for 2 weeks, but will hopefully update the blog nearly daily. more on that later). packing is the chore that lies ahead. for me, packing is an exercise in distillation. i choose my most versatile but also my favorite items, as they suit the weather and location of my destination. for one thing, it just makes me feel more comfortable wherever i am if i continue to be my regular self, dress like my regular self. also, it is the equivalent of going grocery shopping on a full stomach - i'm less distracted to shop if i'm perfectly content with what i've brought. if my choices are too pared down, then i start to crave, and look, and buy.

when you travel, do you pack your special favorites, your basics or essential travel gear? do you shop for clothes while you're traveling?

First things first


for some people, the reward for a long day is getting into sweats or pajamas as soon as possible, either because it's symbolic of shedding the day and the role they played in it, or because it's a matter of comfort and desiring to increase it.

do you feel differently about your clothes at the end of the day than when you start in the morning? do you always change into something more comfortable as soon as you get home?

Inspiration



fashion writer/critic lynn yaeger (top) and fashion journalist/host lauren ezersky. these two women focus on fashion professionally, but then also pursue it with lust and love, personally, cultivating unique and wonderful styles that they each own fully.

yaeger is critical and introspective about the industry, the fashions, and the social implications of both when applicable, yet she fully embraces the beauty to be found there and empowers herself with her own choices.

ezersky is tirelessly enthusiastic about everything fashion-related. she is unapologetic about her fixation, and makes it all very accessible - after all, it's just clothes. nothing to be afraid of, strictly to enjoy.

they make no excuses for themselves and never ever should.
both always are adamant about one thing: wear whatever you want to!

The most sincere form of flattery



a friend recently commented on my dress (we were at brunch). “ooo, fancy” she said. i took this to be a compliment, though in a different mood i might have heard “you’re over-dressed.” it occured to me that there are really 2 ways to give a compliment. 1. say an item is pretty/beautiful/unique/incredible, or 2. say the wearer looks pretty/beautiful/unique/incredible. I wasn’t told either. I was told I was fancy.

but i digress. when i think someone looks good, i say so. when i think an item is unique or interesting, etc. i say so. when i think an item is my idea of heaven, i ask where they got it. this is often interpreted as a threat to national security, and not as the compliment it is, though admittedly it's in a rather self-serving form. once i asked a woman wearing a very cute trench coat where she got it, and she was painfully vague before turning on her heels and fleeing.

i'm a hypocrite, of course, because i am guilty of wanting to guard my own little treasures as well, once in a while. i don't ever actually withhold information, but i do understand the impulse.

are you forthcoming when asked about the origins of a particular piece? if you had your choice, would you much rather a compliment came without any further inquiry?

Big bang theory



confidence is sexy - that is the line i was always fed. these are 2 pictures of louise brooks. in one she is average, and in one she is fierce. blame the forehead, or credit the iconic bangs, either way, it doesn't seem to be the attitude as much as the accessories (hair here) that make the woman, in this case. does every single detail have to be just exactly perfectly right for that winning combination - these pictures make me think yes.

which is more important, looking the part or feeling the part?
do you believe you can project beauty, or do you also have to present/package it?

Manners Shmanners


there are some unspoken rules in fashion, social rules, really - don't upstage the bride, don't wear jeans to an interview. they are viewed as fashion rules, but they're really about manners. in some parts, wearing white before memorial day is a faux pas. ridiculous to me, but there it is. for a brief period in the 20s, hemlines dared to go above the knee, and it was shocking and rebellious. without rebels, we might all still be in corsets (doubtful, but you get my point).



do you observe, break or even consider those types of rules?

Rituals


since high school, when i'm coherent enough to do so, i always plan my outfit the night before. it doesn't require physically examining my choices or anything, but i zero in on a main contender and 8 times out of 10 that's what i walk out the door wearing 10 hours later.


and what is most often the inspiration for the direction i want to take my look in the first place? well, to be perfectly honest, the weather is a major factor that is researched before bed and again first thing when i wake up. but aside from that one practical consideration, how i feel like wearing my hair pretty much sets the tone for me. it surely is not because my hair is interesting hair, or hair that benefits in the remotest way from any particular time or skill, but it's something of a barometer for my mood - rebellious, tidy, pretty, spunky, etc.

how do you get dressed each day? do you start in the morning or at night? from the top or the bottom?

Trying to throw your arms around the world

with fast fashion out there reproducing every imaginable trend at every possible price point, it’s easy to feel like a newly discovered sleeve, collar, hemline, print, etc. is not very new at all. there is no time to be romanced by a new silhouette, no time to discover it. it is simultaneously on the runway, on the celebs, on the shelves and online before it really has a chance to creep into your imagination. there is barely an introduction and you’re on to the quick conclusion, love it or leave it. it’ll be deemed done, over, passé within a year or 2, most likely, so there is no time to hemm and haw about it.

but i’m not writing today to lament our inability to enjoy the newness of something. what i’m thinking is, new isn’t even new in the first place, half the time. exhibit A see photos: 1. a gown, as they used to be called, by adrian worn in “letty lynton” (1932), 2. a dress on the roberto cavalli fall ’05 runway.



yet despite this, despite myself, i get totally excited about clothing, and want to be stimulated by it and excited about it all the time (i'm part of the problem, not the solution i think). but i do wonder, if something is great the first time out, why doesn’t it stay in stores and continue to sell. why doesn’t retail work that way? it’s a chicken and the egg question i think. do customers demand a rotation of looks being offered (which is sort of an illusion anyway), or does business rely on a buying frenzy twice a year?

what keeps your attention? what keeps you attracted to the seemingly revolving door that is fashion? do you prefer it this way?

Inspiration



Stolen Kisses, Polly Apfelbaum

"The irregular edges, wavering lines, and random arrangement of colors subvert any sense of rational order in Apfelbaum's gridded arrangement of cut-velvet circles. Efforts to coerce the pieces of sumptuous material, often hand-dyed by the artist, into a regular arrangement are ultimately defeated by the handmade and rough-hewn quality of the objects. The pillowcase from now-defunct Pan Am airlines, purchased at a flea market, retains the wrinkles and imperfections of its life before it became part of an artwork. The handwritten name of the previous owner is just visible through the fabric, and Apfelbaum has stamped her own name inside as well, alligning herself with the other people who have played a part in this object's history."

Matchy matchy


i often, too too often, notice beautiful, well-groomed and styled women partnered up with unkempt or sartorially disinterested companions. i would never suggest that one’s spouse or partner be maintained like an accessory, but i do find the discrepancy, the inequality of effort to be disconcerting, and i usually interpret it as the woman settling a bit.

do you and your significant others typically have compatible style? what about simply equal levels of investment in appearance? is that important to you?

The real deal


recently i heard the application of the "pays for itself" theory (where if you figure out the cost per use, let's say of a $50 scarf - if you wear that scarf for 2 months straight, then it cost you less than a penny a day) and it occurred to me that this would only actually work if you were putting that penny aside every day. it would work even better if you did that before buying the scarf. my priorities are longevity of the appeal, and the degree of the appeal. i have to love it, and think i'll love it for a while (i primarily apply these requirements when the price tag is substantial), and, ideally, it will last through all that love.

there are people who feel i spend too much on certain items, pay too high a premium. meanwhile, i'm very aware of how much exceptionally average things cost these days. sometimes it's a case of the brand being greedy - if they have a strong following, then they can throw a plastic headband into the collection and charge $200. sometimes it's a case of a brand being hopeful - if people will pay $600 for a famous designer's shoes, maybe they'll pay $200 for our junky ones.

for the most part, i have to admit that i'm more suspicious of cheap items than expensive ones...and i think this handicaps my ability to enjoy something that is more... reasonably priced. (ultimately, regardless of the cost, i always subscribe to the adage, buyer beware. )

which, in your opinion, is more of a good "deal": a high price on high quality, or a low price on average quality?

It's all relative



recently perusing blazers it occurred to me that i preferred a dramatic lapel, or no lapel. i think my own lack of shape/curves influences my attraction to clothing with independent shape and volume (bubble hems, sack dresses, wide lapels). i've been told it leads to my disappearing altogether underneath, but i can't seem to stop myself from enjoying the pieces, regardless.

what influences your play with proportions?

Pet peeves



sometimes little details on others catch my eye and i have a nearly imperceptible negative reaction. just a tiny one, but it registers. and if i have time i mentally put the observation on my list of pet peeves. i'm not talking about trends i don't like but rather small small choices that just rub me the wrong way. a hair clip attached to the strap of a purse, a trench with the belt missing, very beautiful and/or impractical shoes on feet covered in bandaids. the list is subjective for sure - there is no right or wrong. and i wonder how often i offend someone else by doing something that peeves them...

do you have any pet peeves?

Style for hire




patricia fields, rachel zoe, kate young, venetia scott are a few of the more current powerful professional stylists. directly or indirectly, they play a big role influencing designers and customers alike through their in-house and celebrity work. when the lens finds them, they enter the spotlight more directly as recognizable personalities. very very often, the camera is focussed on their work on celebrity clients. their talent is getting people dressed. their clients are either too busy or too fashion-challenged or too fed up with the scrutiny that comes with their fame to do the work themselves. the results are effective and memorable.

given the opportunity, would you hire a stylist?

Good sense


there is a bias against beauty that goes along the lines if you spend so much time worrying over your appearance, you must be neglecting something else, namely the brains. interesting that those are our choices, appearance or intellect. i am guilty of spending a lot of time musing over appearances... anyway, i thought i would throw in the full selection (and i think we can prioritize without canceling out anything entirely).

is there any particular order you would list your priorities for how you appeal to the various senses? that is, how you look, smell, taste, feel and sound?

Fashionable politics


the aesthete cares very much that appearance should express or convey something, create a feeling, a mood, an atmosphere. for me, when that feeling is other than visual/aesthetic, i no longer see it as fashion. for his spring/summer '07 runway collection, jeremy scott wanted his fashions to present "food for thought." naturally there were realistic pieces in the collection, amid more...bold creations (see photo), but the impetus for his entire presentation was his political stance. he wanted his clothing to present his response to the war, and to his government's current political agenda.

i saw nelson mandela t-shirts give way to slogan tops encouraging release, imprisonment and solidarity for celebrity criminals and divorcees. scott's own interpretation of advocacy apparel was on a higher level in terms of construction and sentiment, but it is still using the body as billboard.

how often does your appearance represent your politics?

Ready-made


there is a nice top in my closet that had no discernible flaw, but i was avoiding it. i had a choice. toss it or tweak it. most things i readily part with, not wanting to risk ruining something that another person might well get some use out of, but occasionally i weigh the odds and find there is a good chance i could find some satisfaction with a minor adjustment. i lopped off the sleeves and now i'm much more pleased with it. i do most definitely feel that i reduced the item, somewhat, in doing this, as they were distinctive sleeves, but they were also the item's achilles' heel - it was a light top yet the restrictive sleeves made the piece undesirable in hot temperatures. the light color and construction/details made the top ill-suited to cooler months. now it is properly a summer top and i am pleased.

when you buy some thing, if it disappoints in fit or function, are you willing to tweak it? do you ever buy something knowing it will require an intervention?

Weather or not


if i could, i would wear jeans all year round. i would at least like to have them as a daily option. and unfortunately my love for wool and sweaters does not drop when the mercury rises. but i'm a good sport and embrace the seasonal sartorial challenges, convincing myself that it's an opportunity for diversity, blah blah blah. and of course from a self-preservationist perspective, i want to feel comfortable, dressing weather-appropriate. so it galls me when i'm inching along in 90+ heat, trying to hide in the fast disappearing sliver of shade the buildings provide, drenched in sweat despite prudently wearing a light cotton sundress and little else, and someone walks past in jeans. mind you, they're passing me, and not laid out on a stretcher as would i be, suffering from heat stroke. the other day i even saw someone in jeans and a cardigan. i stood and stared in shock...and envy. i never admire the nuts who wear thongs in the winter, when it's 20 degrees, though i suppose they suffer from a reverse season preference, and, unlike me, refuse to cave to the elements.

do you let the weather dictate your choices?

and

is there a secret trick to wearing jeans in the summer without passing out? because i would really love to know this one

Divided


this is related to the last post - there is still something rattling around in my head on that topic (but i promise to let it go for a while after this). i feel a disconnect between what i look like and my taste/style/fashion preferences. if i'm forced to always consider what suits my body or appearance or color, that is letting something dictate my appearance that is not really within my control. i didn't choose my hair, eye, skin color, or body type, yet these things very much effect what looks flattering. i'm definitely guilty of occasionally looking at other people and thinking what tweaks or edits to an ensemble would improve the overall look on a person - but that is entirely based on their outside appearance, how to maximize their assets, etc.

no question, just frustrated.

Seeing is believing


earlier this year i bought a scarf. i chose the color based on which one i found most attractive for me to look at, not which one might make me the most attractive. the sales associate at the store asked if i wanted to see it on in front of a mirror and my response was, "doesn't matter, i won't be the one having to look at me when it's on." he looked at me like i was...an alien. as i've mentioned before, i do this a lot, choose based on what i like to look at, rather than what necessarily looks good on me. in a perfect world, they would be one and the same.

philosophically or intellectually there is a style that appeals to me, independent of me (my body, shape, coloring, etc.). i wonder, if i just wear the clothing i like (independent of what looks best on me), will they just magically "suit" me? or do i have to listen to the mirror?

which do you put a higher premium on - how you want to look, or how you actually look?

Pandora's box


i am not someone with a whole lot of rules about what i'll wear, which i always thought was a good thing, but then the result was too much wardrobe chaos, so i've got this blog and have been thinking about what i do and don't want in my closet. bit of an internal conflict going on is that i want to stream-line things but i also know i will always need room to experiment. it's just important to me. i am aiming to experiment with a higher success rate if i respect some ground rules, like fit, color, cut, etc.

when was the last time you tried something new?

Inspiration


amelia earhart had beauty and brains. without trivializing her accomplishments, earhart can be held up as a style icon. her spirit and independence defined her wonderful style. it's good to look outside of the typical/predictable/commercialized images of beauty for inspiration.

A star is (re)born


have you ever set something aside, an unpopular or under-used item, only to rediscover it and find a new way to appreciate it? unlike other weeded items, something gives you pause and you keep it, recognizing that you have no use for it. and then it's back in favor.

what is the catalyst for embracing the once-rejected? did you change? did the styles/influences change? your needs? or do you find a new way to see/use the item?

"You're out!"


whether you do it annually, weekly or as spontaneous sorting, weeding is pretty inevitable. i find it's harder to get rid of a beloved, well-used item than it is a new or nearly new but unfavored piece of clothing. rarely do i miss or regret a rejected piece (use it or lose it, as they say).

what is your criteria for ejecting an item of clothing out of the closet?

Opposites attract


i often admire styles very dissimilar to my own. their appeal is inspiring and frustrating at the same time. i am never sure if this means i should override my own impulses and embrace a different aesthetic, or if i'm just enjoying the diversity.

does a style opposite to your own hold any appeal?

Under the influence


i never set out to be trendy. i’m not hostile to trends, but if clothes were organized and clearly marked “trendy” and ... “not trendy,” i would automatically buy from the second pile. obviously when the stores are flooded with a particular look or detail, it’s hard for it to not get my attention though.

how do you know if the item you like is something you independently like, or if you’re being swayed by a million and one different influences to like it?

Scene stealer


a lot of fashion spreads are magical borderline ridiculous. they are meant to transport. they show the clothing in inspired ways, but they are aiming for art, for indirect inspiration, not as a direct guide. back-stage photos or behind-the-scenes fashions on un-airbrushed people in candid moments, on the other hand, often bring clothing much closer to home, worn for the sidewalk, for the office, for life.

have you ever tried to recreate an exact outfit you saw on someone else? was it worn by a mortal or a model?

If the hat fits


marc jacobs sent hats down the louis vuitton and march jacobs runway. this following prada's high impact headbands for spring/summer makes it safe to say that headgear is sticking around a bit longer. welcome news to a girl who considers a cloche to be a wardrobe staple. but hats are tricky, and when i was looking for a good summer hat, it occurred to me that a hat is an accessory that really needs to be in harmony with the rest of the look. clashing shoes can be cheeky, an unexpected purse can amuse, but the wrong topper produces little more than crazy-lady stares. even if you don't wear a hat, don't want to wear a hat, will never own a hat, actually identifying one that would work with your aesthetic is tricky business that can help clarify what exactly your aesthetic is.

what hat would suit your style?