DIY - bracelet






ingredients: one silk pocket square, one smooth plastic bangle.
(i'm wearing this in the most recent post on my wardrobe blog - different pocket square though.)

anyone else with a 4 minute diy that requires no sewing, pinning, cutting, gluing, etc.?

What if


when shopping, sometimes we happen upon an item that is perfect for something. these pieces conjure up moments they were meant for - a night out, a nice dinner, a momentous occasion, or maybe that time you had nothing to wear and this would have been perfect. so you buy it, in anticipation of a need. "just in case" it sits in your closet. "just in case" is always spared during spring cleaning. hasn't happened yet, but any day it could be called into service. this is the item that will have your back, on your back. sometimes, having "just in case" ready to go on the old hanger works like an umbrella on a cloudy day, miraculously, and mysteriously staving off any need whatsoever for it. mother nature doesn't care that you've carried the awkward gear all over town all day. not a drop, not even so much as a mist.

i recently (today) got rid of a "just in case" that i had kept for years. but i was so tired of passing it over for no particular reason. "just in case" was insurance, but it wasn't right some how. i feel a teeny tiny bit vulnerable. has anyone checked the forecast?

In the wild


in terms of style, i am definitely not a pack animal. my attraction to pieces is never dictated by its popularity. i do not dress to impress, but at the same time, i'm no flounder.

in terms of shopping, in all honesty, i used to be a scavenger. tsk tsk. if it was left over from a past season, marked down and almost the right color, at half off, i felt very pleased with myself. but i have changed my ways. now i'm more like a hummingbird, looking, moving, seeking, and then a second of happy calm and then looking, moving, seeking - always selective though.

if you had to pick an animal that best illustrates your style, what would it be?
if you had to pick an animal that best illustrates your shopping technique, what would it be?

Who do you love?


113 pages. there were 113 pages of editorial material in september's behemoth issue. 727 pages were dedicated to advertising. a cynic/industry person might suggest much of the remaining 113 were fueled by advertising as well. vogue all but said that themselves when they advertised that the book contained 840 pages of fashion, claiming a certain degree of ownership over all content. why not - often the same models and photographers work on both, but in very simple terms, advertising tells you what you can buy and editorial tells you what you should buy.

if you had to pick only one as your fashion/style resource, for a year, would you choose access to advertising or editorial?

At some point


blisters from shoes, damaged hair from a heating appliance, restricted gate from tight skirts, incredibly painful burning when shampoo gets in your eyes? i've done 3 of these 4 examples and okay, that last one happened to me this week and it really hurt.

do you ever suffer for the sake of style?
how much is too much?
how much is okay?

Inspiration


i particularly enjoy when an item has both form and function. dresses with pockets, for example.

Q&A


1. i would be miserable if i had to wear _____.
2. i wish i had an excuse to wear _____.
3. i most enjoy dressing for _____ weather.
4. that is the weather where i live _____% of the time.
5. i prefer dressing for night/day activities. (pick one)
6. my sleepwear is a total deviation from/extension of my personal style. (pick one)
7. _____ players have the best sports uniform.
8. _____ workers have the best work uniforms.

Cookie cutter


the bucket. that's my answer to the question i will pose at the bottom of this post. i looked at the shapes and styles i am most consistently drawn to for purchase - that is, i admire and enjoy many many shapes, but on me, i am happiest in one, and that one best corresponds to a bucket. i have 2 dresses that are basically cotton canvas buckets that happen to be open on the bottom. often called sack dresses, really they are buckets - straight across the top, straps come straight up and over the shoulders. okay, barrels if you will. my purse is essentially a leather version of a 2-handled bucket. the cloche hats i like are just handle-less buckets (though really, i suppose any hat looks like a bucket).

is there an identifiable shape you are particularly drawn to in clothing?
what non-fashion object best corresponds, shares that shape?

10 labels


how to play: it's a word search. there are 10 labels hidden here, each label's name is six letters or less (eg. marni... oops).
how to win: find 'em.
what to do after that: first person to find all 10 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 (retailrecovery.editor@gmail.com) the list of the 10 labels you found (it's not that i don't trust you, really) 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. :)

The good book


some people in the business think that magazines are going to become a thing of the past. i hope this never happens. i love magazines!

i only subscribe to one magazine, australian vogue, and choose the rest (3-4) spontaneously each month. i rely on the australian vogue for my wool fix during the us bikini-obsessed months of may-august, which is their winter. in my plot to foil the seasons, i also discovered that despite the powerful dna, australian vogue has a different take on fashion, and it's refreshing. i like the extra attention paid to japanese designers as well. unlike us vogue, i actually read 70-80% of the articles.

but reading the magazines isn't essential to my enjoying them. on my last trip, i located this wonderful magazine shop (top pic), athenaeum boekhandel & nieuwscentrum (spellcheck is going crazy right now). i asked the shopkeeper there for some dutch fashion titles and she quickly selected 3 for me: B612, LINK and CODE. i plan to sit down this weekend, if not sooner, and sink into them, a wonderful extension of my trip.




are your sources of fashion all home-grown or do you ever cross borders?
which do you prefer, and why?

Hang time


with every passing birthday, i can take most of the physical changes and the ever-illuminated cake, but what really gets me is this whole maturity thing. if it only meant wrinkles and white hairs, that would be one thing, but what is really freaking me out is my new-found patience. what is that all about? i used to wear new items straight out of the store (after i paid for them - this is not a confessional post about a shoplifting habit). i used to wear fancy shoes to the movies, no greater occasion required. now i still retain enough independent taste to wear whatever i want, occasion be-darned, but i do stop to enjoy the newness, which i never used to.

on my recent trip i made a few purchases, and instead of enjoying them on the spot and practically doubling my travel wardrobe, i kept them safely wrapped in their tissue paper and (i'll admit this even though i don't technically have to) original shopping bags, not snipping the tags until i delivered them home to my closet, as if the shopping excursion were a mere typical weekend and not a transatlantic flight. i wanted to enjoy them at home, calmly, and see how they fit (literally and stylistically) into my closet. i wanted to think of them as part of my larger wardrobe and not as mere acquisitions to be consumed/enjoyed immediately. spooky.

how long do you wait to snip the tag and make it official?
do you have any post-purchase rituals?

A rose by any other name...


sometimes a purchase is just a purchase, and sometimes it's about bringing home a new member to join the family. browsing for a fall hat, i came upon this cute little wool cloche. i immediately liked the shape, it was exactly what i was looking for, but i hesitated and wanted to know more about the label/designer. [SCHA] is the label, artist ewa kulasek is the designer. an artist! i was intrigued and inched closer to making the purchase. but i still wanted to know more about the background of the hat and the label, i wanted to see if it was connected to a larger picture that i found appealing. i googled (naturally) and found the label's site, where i was assured by the following verse-like prose that the hat was associated with lofty design ideals, was the product of lofty design ideals, and therefore my own lofty design ideals would remain intact and even be reinforced by the acquisition of this new item:

What is important about my hats:

they are about form,
they are about colour,
they are about structure,

they are not so much about decoration,

they are about beauty,
they are about simplicity,
they are about reduction,
they are about perfection,
they are to play with.

Most of my hats have many faces.
It depends on the way you wear them.
It depends on the way you combine them.

Ewa Kulasek


wonderful, perfect. i was flattered, i was wooed, i was assured. bought the hat, love the hat. is it a weakness or just understandable that i am interested in the whole package? i can say that it adds depth to the item and elevates it if i can understand the item's history (in terms of its inception, not in terms of previous owners. this hat is new.). but a whole lot of it is just simple marketing. i love good marketing. i have purchased hair conditioners truly because the copywriting said that i should leave the stuff in the bottle on my hair for 5 minutes or more "to melt into the hair." if i'm in the market for a hair conditioner, it's for dry hair, and if something is going to melt into my dry hair, that sounds about as thirst-quenching as anything out there. and if it says it will melt, (in my sucker of a mind) it's just that much more likely to actually do it than a bottle of stuff that does not mention melting. i'm sold.


here are 2 near-identical looks. on the left is brazilian label layana thomaz (au06) and on the right is chloe (ss06). technically one is a dress and one is a coat, but other than that, they are remarkably similar. yet presumably they will never compete for a customer because each label (hopefully) has its own audience and loyal following. i return to see the new runway shows of designers i have enjoyed previously, designers i have bonded with for one reason or another, before i go exploring new, unfamiliar ones. (being me, i do still go explore though.)

are you loyal to designers who you identify with?
do you know or care to know anything more about a garment than how it looks on?
are you invested in the aura around a piece?
when it comes down to choosing, what tips the scale for you?

Inspiration






Inès Marie Lætitia Églantine Isabelle de Seignard de la Fressange,
born 1957.
for me, these pictures are about balance.

Model role


runways used to be simpler affairs. at its core, it is, after all, a trade show. no one is clamoring to attend the MAGIC fashion & apparel show in vegas, and that is, of course, because it isn't fun, or easy (more walking than sitting for the "audience"). a lot of effort and expense has gone into transforming the runway shows into televised events, worthy of major coverage, thus allowing extra exposure for the designer beyond editorial endorsements.

they are still showing clothes (the victoria secret show notwithstanding), but the hair and makeup are given as much thought and time as the collection it seems (and sold simultaneously, with celebrity makeup artists using the platform as a venue to show their company's new "collection"). the real draw for the cameras though are the famous faces. designers invite celebrities who are not going to do a substantial amount of buying, or probably none at all, give them free clothes to wear, and give them a front row seat beside the runway so that they can be seen in them. when the lights go out, the designers feed us celebrities on the runway.

professionals in the field do not need this presentation at all to decide what they will purchase for their stores, or promote on their pages. it's all for us (thank you!!).

these models are famous for their beauty. for being beautiful, and tall, and thin, and for being chosen to be models in the first place (based on the first 3 criteria). i see beauty in women on the street all the time, staggering beauty, in professional secretaries, and shop clerks, and dentists, etc. so the professionals are not particularly special, other than their heightened familiarity. we know and own their faces, or can own stacks of issues containing their faces (and favorite stores, desserts, labels, books, songs, vacation spots, etc.). far more magazines highlighting these women are sold than any of the clothes they model are. how did this desire to possess the beauties trump the desire to possess the clothing they are supposed to be selling?


do you need all the pageantry or are the clothes enough?

Identifying fashion


clothing sounds far too mundane, and fashion sounds too...fluffy, unsubstantial. each piece that i buy, i see some beauty in it, something i can reflect on, even if it's just a well-placed pleat. when it's done well, it's art to me. my own personal collection. i generally gravitate towards pieces that reveal a person behind the design. i don't mean the seamstress (or machine) who produces it, but the individual who designed it, who thought to pile on asymmetrical ruffles around the neckline of my new dress, for example.

mass american retailers like j.crew produce some very useful, efficient fashion, but i don't usually see the soul in it. but then there is another kind of fashion art that the us excels at: the blank canvas. american apparel t-shirts, though ephemeral, are as basic as can be (i know, the guy was technically canadian). the basic men's 501 levis jeans are the ultimate blank canvas when you get them shrink-to-fit.


i think growing up as an american helped inform my interest in personalizing that blank canvas. but now, ironically, the results are not always well-received here. i wonder if iris apfel was as applauded for her style on a day to day basis when she lived in her now-celebrated ensembles as she is today, post museum exhibit. despite not having a fashion tradition, like france, there are, nevertheless, standards of style here, and the majority dictate that we should happily buy the mass looks and consume the trends. hasn't been a hard-sell from what i can see.

i felt a jolting difference in amsterdam. i sensed utter fashion freedom. more important than not observing any particular popular "looks" i didn't receive any "looks" for my own. i didn't sense the herd-mentality that seems so pervasive in the us. even "alternative" nooks and crannies, like williamsburg, brooklyn, are filled with replicas of one "alternative" identity. clothing here quite often seems to represent what group you belong to. do you belong in williamsburg? do you belong in the hamptons? do you belong in chickasaw, alabama? growing up, i was told i didn't look like i was from l.a. - since i did in fact grow up there, i should be the perfect example of whatever one who is from l.a. ought to look like, but that was apparently decided by a herd, and i did not match that. i think one reason i felt so wonderfully content in amsterdam was because there did not seem to be any expectation for anyone to match anything. i had never realized that i found the attitudes toward my fashion choices that i encounter here to be oppressive, until i went to a place where they did not exist. (ps that top pic is the flag of amsterdam.)

if you had to choose a place to identify with, fashion-wise, where would it be?

what elevates a piece in your eyes? what makes it art and/or worthy of coming home with you? what makes it click for you?

Q&A


1. belt or no belt?
2. big bag, small bag, or pockets?
3. jewelry, bold or subtle?
4. hairstyle or hair cut?
5. coordinated or contrasts?
6. you gave up on _____, but still admire it on others.
7. _____ is the one thing most women don't bother with, but should.
8. the hardest thing for a woman to carry off is _____.
9. if you had to choose: fragrance or makeup?

Flying blind


i have absolutely no complaints about our accommodations in amsterdam - adorable hotel, great location, and i was in a very happy fog, totally filled with love for the city. so i did not much mind that there was no full-length mirror in the room. that said, i had to guess how high to cuff my jeans on one warm day - standing on the edge of the tub, i still had to lean so far to get into the frame of the mirror that it distorted my leg and i couldn't get an accurate reading.

the tub-balancing act notwithstanding, i probably saved myself a bit of time each day by not having my daily dressing aid, and though my appearance may not have benefited from it, psychologically i felt perfectly content with my appearance, merely relying on my confidence in the pieces, without any confirmation of the result. yet now that i'm back home, i have no intention of rejecting the mirror that i have at my disposal again. but i wonder if i should...

how do you suppose having no mirror would effect you?
do you think you would dress differently?

I can't wait to return


we didn't have anywhere near enough time. my list of things i didn't get to see is longer than the list of things i did, but this was my first visit and i'm going to come back.


i did not realize that it would be so green. in addition to the enormous vondelpark, the canals themselves are tree-lined.


side note: i love the proportions of the cars they drive here - so compact. and then there are these service vehicles around that are half the size of the regular cars.


at the end of most trips, i am itching to return home, but not this time. something was different. i'm going to give it some more thought, but now i have to catch a plane. some how i managed to close my bags, even with a few extra treats packed inside - i'll post those in the coming weeks on my ever-growing perfectly small wardrobe.
thank you all for keeping me company on this trip!

Q&A


1. the most neutral color is _______.
2. the ideal hemline (for skirt or dress) is _______.
3. the most versatile shoes is a _______.
4. zipper or button?
5. hood or no hood?
6. wool or cotton?
7. print or solid?
8. cuff or no cuff?

i'll put my answers in the thoughts box

I love amsterdam


despite the short train ride and the similar language, the minute we got here i felt a huge difference from antwerp.
from a people-watching perspective, in antwerp they mastered layers, subtlety and minimal color to beautiful effect. also, the art of the scarf.
here, there is casual beauty, comfort without forsaking style and color. lots of color.


amsterdam is beautiful!
the buildings, the canals, the shops, the people, the food, the city - wonderful!

Bruges, antwerp and beyond

went to bruges for a day. very pretty.




left antwerp (the high-tops went with me - they are from an italian company: ash. "vincent/virgin" from the ventury collection.)
bye antwerp!


now we're in...

Red light, green light


too many people wearing anything, and really even too many of something in the store, like a heaping table of sweaters...these things stop me or reduce my lust/desire for an item somewhat. an unappealing celebrity wearing something i like does not in and of itself stop me from appreciating something, however that often leads to too many people (blindly) wearing the item, so that bumps it back to the first category and i lose my interest.
(i will add to this post later tonight when i have more time to think)

what things stop you in your tracks?
what things increase your interest?

Winning combinations


yesterday i saw a woman wearing a charcoal grey dress, a light-weight charcoal grey jacket of the same length, bare legs, charcoal sandals and... a yellow purse. it was just a beautiful combination. i see things like this and they strike me, but then, i think, no matter how much i don't want to, i lose the memory of them - so hopefully writing it here will help me remember how appealing i found it. (that's a close up of a reeses, by the way.)

do you remember things you've seen that inspired you?
any color combinations in particular?

Art in antwerp

today was the antwerp royal museum of fine arts

their treasure is the collection of paintings by peter paul rubens. but i'm not really a rubens girl (despite the beautiful galleries).


i did very much like the modern work on the ground floor, including de twee lents (the two springs but also known as "the city mouse and the country mouse") by gustave van de woestyne.


then lunch in a charming cafe, with a very nice location right down the block from


ann demeulumeester (now that's art).


then off to the zoo, but i feel terribly guilty on the rare occasion that i frequent a zoo.
can't believe i haven't done any shopping yet. will try to rectify that.

From here to eternity


i'm always hoping that i have a lot to look forward to, style-wise, with age. on occasion, i've passed on items feeling almost like they're too good for me right now, and i will wait to enjoy them - like dessert. hope i still want them when i imagine now that i will be ready. if not, of course there will be something new to take its place. with the exception of a few career-imposed wardrobes, i feel like i've been on a pretty consistent course (and sometimes that frustrates me, but i guess it's comforting too).

20 years ago (or, 10, for those under 20), could you have accurately predicted what your style would become (what it is today)? do you think you could predict your style 20 years from now?
if your style has had major jumps, do you recall any particular catalysts for these changes?