March 30, 2010

Vintage is the future of fashion, or, Reaching the next level in a post-McQueen world

No, this is not an early April Fools' joke. I'm actually making a post.

The other day I came across this great post by Gill Linton (whose psfk column is becoming a must-read for those with an interest in the changing landscape of the fashion industry) entitled "Fashion is becoming dumb and banal. Long Live McQueen." Yes, please.

It was equal parts belated Lee McQueen eulogy and fashion world bitchslap, so naturally I hung on every word. Props to Linton for telling it like it is while encouraging this blogger and likely many others to step up their game, as it were.

Regarding her lukewarm impressions on this season's shows:
"I think, in the shadow of Lee McQueen’s death, I’ve subconsciously raised the creative stakes for everyone else, not only in terms of fashion design, but also in everything the brand does. It’s not enough to design great clothes anymore, how the themes and inspirations of a collection are brought to life and shared, (now that fashion shows aren’t industry insider events anymore,) matter more than ever."
So true.

She described McQueen's final show as "an exercise in creative foresight and a perfectionism that ensured everything communicated an idea. Not a theme, an idea. There’s a difference."

I couldn't agree more, and I believe this is more important now than ever. Brands are getting bogged down by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Ivy Style in chic? Every store carries some version of the Top-Sider. It's the same story with the heritage trend. And so on. It would be so refreshing to see more designers communicate ideas--actual lines of thought with creative direction--but instead ideas are taking a backseat to trends and the profit motive.

It's tiring, and we deserve better. But if the retailers aren't interested in giving it to us, we have to find it somewhere else. Linton argues that vintage is the place to start for inspiration, and again I agree. Good vintage holds a wealth of style that we've barely scratched the surface of--for ideas and, if you're a pessimist, ripping off for profits

In closing, Linton delivers one of the classiest lines I've seen since McQueen's swansong, one truly befitting of his legacy.

"It’s possible we’ll be wearing McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis collection [20 years from now], because there’ll be nothing else quite like it."


What will the future bring? Many of us talk about reaching a Next Level but how many of us are really at that next level? And for those of us that aren't, how are we challenging ourselves to get there?

I get some weird ideas on what to wear, and when I get sideways stares and snide comments as I walk by, I know that I'm doing it right. What are you doing to reach the next level?

March 29, 2010


A little while back, I went on a hunt. It was a hunt for the perfect, leather, logo-free medium/large bag with both handles and a long strap.

Somehow, within weeks of starting this hunt, I came across the CLAREVIVIER line and it was love at first sight. I got this new bag for spring, and it's practically perfect in every way.

This messenger tote was pretty much exactly what I wanted in my life. I was looking at the company's website, contemplating if I should make the purchase. I waited a couple days on it, and in the meantime subscribed to the blog (adorable.) I tend to get a little too "into" any person/company/brand that I like, even if for a few days. And CLAREVIVIER pretty much instantly became a stalker situation for me with goods like this.

All the bags are locally made in Burbank, and it seems Clare herself is still very involved in the manufacturing process. Pictures like this make me happy (from the blog).

On further, deeper levels of stalking, I followed Clare to Paris, found out she's from Minnesota, and swooned over her personal style. But really, my stalkerism aside, the quality speaks for itself. I love how the bag manages to have both a handmade and luxury feel at the same time.

I also really like the font of the branding.

It's pretty interesting watching this label grow via Clare's blog posts. Inasmuch as I feel like I get to "know" someone through an online persona, I like how a blog can personalize the product for me and make me feel excited for someone's success.

Woes of early adulthood

Somehow I've ended up in something resembling a professional job. Almost. It's like I've got one foot in the door/grave. Sometimes, this feels good. Like as an excuse to wear more tailored clothing. Other times, this sucks and I hate growing up. And on other days, my mind just oscillates and I end up feeling confused. Mike saw this outfit and was like, "It's pretty J. Crew." To which I said, "these tights have a big run in them." And the shoes have to count for something, right?

How I make myself happy on a workday morning:

I match my nails to my belt.

When I'm feeling like a little brat about having to conform to get along in mainstream grown-up land, I just remember the perhaps metaphoric message from A League of Their Own, "THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL." Indeed, Tom Hanks, indeed.

March 27, 2010

It's so easy

Happy Saturday morning to you. (Noon is still part of the morning in my world.) Today we'll be talking about this:
I just started my day by re-watching this video, and even though I think you may already know about it, I wanted to share! I remember watching for the first time and seeing my youth flash before my eyes in the first 22 seconds. Not many fashion shows make me giddy and smile and shout things out at my computer screen. And nothing builds up anticipation and positive energy like some weed, yin yang, and dolphin graphics. There is just SO MUCH to love about Gerlan Jeans, it really is almost too easy for me...

I nearly lost my shit when I saw Beyonce wearing this Gerlan tee in Videophone:
I hadn't really thought about Gerlan since my initial outburst of excitement over the fact that someone had pretty much nailed it in terms on 90s memes, but today I was looking at Dropsnap and came across this lovely young woman, and felt really jealous. How do the Japanese do it? How do they get to have all of my favorite things in the world, all on that tiny little island?

But back to Gerlan, and why I truly do hope she takes over the world. When I saw my dream maxi dress:and trashy 90s looks, complete with floral Docs, and over-all straps (later, some actual shorts-overalls came along)
these pants, and these models, all coming down the runway to "They Don't Care About Us," I knew that I had to find out more about the mind of whoever was behind this whole business.
Gerlan Marcel basically then became my favorite fashion celebrity. She has been in fashion as a print designer for many years, working behind the scenes at a number of major labels. She tells Interview mag that she grew up in the midwest coveting Esprit and Benetton, not knowing who Galliano was. Um, hi, me too. In East Tennessee where I grew up I would have killed for some Esprit, and was spritzing myself with other kids' cK one (later, cK be) at any given opportunity. And I will tell you that I used to do the front of my hair just like this in elementary school, while wearing an oversized Troll t-shirt with fluorescent puff paint almost every day. Seeing this image was like seeing the girl I always dreamed of growing up to be.
The other thing I love about Gerlan Marcel is girl gives a GREAT interview. An excerpt (regarding her Fall 09 debut collection):
The collection was inspired by aliens landing and what would happen if they did. When I started working on the prints I got turned on to this buzz that was going around on the blogs that aliens had touched down in Louisiana last October to tell people that they're around and that they're coming back in 2012. That got me thinking that when the aliens land they will have the most outrageous looks. I'm sure their prints probably are 3-D and animated. I'm sure there are so many exciting things that will happen when that world meets ours; that was definitely the jump-off point for the prints, the feeling and the styling. It's like, "How do aliens know how many baseball caps to wear." (emphasis added)
Amazing. I'm excited to see where this brand goes. And I really wish I knew how to get my hands on the pink pot leaf blouse from S/S 2010. Alas, I live in the middle of nowheresville, so I'll just keep dreaming. TTYL,

March 26, 2010

why not?

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Housewife realness

Looking at Fall 2010 and reading reviews such as "Paris: A Rounder Season" by Cathy Horyn and Sarah Mower's Prada review at, I ask myself, do women know "what we want" in relation to our bodies? Or do Miuccia and Marc know better?

Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 "And God Created Woman"


Beehives and tiny handbags at Prada

It would seem that these two can do no wrong in the minds of mainstream fashion writers and editors lately. But I wonder, is it that these designers are recapturing the lamentable loss of feminine shapes and clean design? Or simply returning to traditional ideas about femininity, while tapping a market for nostalgia? And is this not basically just like how dudes are looking like assholes left and right in this "heritage" trend of late?

All I'm saying is, Mad Men is just a really good TV show, not a lifestyle brand. I liked the Sopranos a whole lot, too, and I didn't start teasing my hair and wearing acrylic nails because I enjoyed the show.

March 25, 2010

A philosophy... of clothes?

I might read this book in the future because Critchley makes what seems to be an interesting case for thinking deeply about clothing. I came across these great little excerpts on A BLOG recently (see that post here for even more). Obviously I had a hard time choosing just one or two, but let's read and discuss, shall we?
Without clothes, human beings are hideous. We’re simply forked animals with bandy legs. Thus, clothes are necessary. But I’d like to go further and argue that clothes are essential and we might learn much from pondering their meaning.
... as Carlyle writes in Sartor Resartus, or ‘The Tailor Re-tailored’, ‘The whole external universe and what holds it together is but clothing and the essence of all science lies in the PHILOSOPHY OF CLOTHES.’ The philosophy of clothes is not some specialized sub-discipline taught in fashion school ghettos. It is the key to understanding everything. It is the germ and gem of all science. The human being is the fashioned animal and fashion is the key to understanding the human being.
In our depressingly sick society, we must fashion a new garment, a new and splendid outfit to clothe the naked body politic. And it must be a beautiful garment. Against the dominant utilitarianism that reduces all human experience to a mechanism of profit and loss governed by a crude hedonistic calculusm the body politic needs a sumptuous and gorgeous new frock.
God loves dandies because, truth to tell, he is one himself.
But here’s the delicious and essential paradox: clothes conceal and cover. They hide. But they also disclose, they reveal precisely by concealing. Think of the extraordinary importance of the slit, the hemline, the d├ęcolletage, of the symbolic phallic display of collar and tie. We see more in seeing less. Or at least we think we do.
This, of course, in a rigorously Heideggerian sense, is the true function of clothing, its bivalent play of disclosure and concealment. Full nakedness is always a crushing disappointment because it extinguishes desire. It is only in concealment that desire is mobilized.
When you concealed your naked body today, out of conventions based supposedly in the shame of being cast out of the Garden, or perhaps because you lost all your fur during evolution and it's still quite cold, tell me, what desires did you mobilize?

I'm also very interested in Critchley's notion that utilitarianism is reductive and that we need, basically, to get more fancy to redeem society. Here's an example of what I think he might be talking about, and how it is a problem. I've been quite irked lately by a huge billboard in my neighborhood by the Cremation Society of Minnesota, whose slogan is "Professional. Dignified. Economical." Those are all adjective I hate! They exemplify the utilitarian logic Critchley criticizes, and they could just as easily describe the wardrobes of a large majority of adult Americans. Not only fashion, but even our funerals are suffering from a misguided utility. What does this say about how we've lived?

I want to see a billboard for an organization called Fancy Funerals (maybe I shall start this as a backup career?) Our slogan would be "Fashionable. Extravagant. Luxurious."

Pardon my tangent.

Here's a NYT book review.

March 15, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday I was so damn happy. All winter I may have felt like this kid, just singing the words, not putting any feeling into it. And then, like Whoopi's encouragement, the bright sunshine came along to make me shout out loud just how happy I truly am. Thus, here is the soundtrack to this post. Click play; scroll.

To you, this is merely an outfit post. For me, it's so much more. Yesterday was the most glorious day. The universe conspired to bring us 64 degrees (!!!), bright blue skies, sunshine, AND Mike didn't have to work. Happy day indeed. I wore some ridiculous combination of shit.

Including Shirin Guild harem pants, J. Crew belt, Marc by MJ blouse, American Apparel scarf, vintage loafers, secondhand cardigan, brand new ClareVivier messenger bag (more on that later), and vintage Pucci sunglasses.

(Um, does it get any better than these pants?)

Anyhow, we walked all over town. I wanted to go see how the lakes are doing as they have obviously started to thaw out. They looked so beautiful.

It was pretty surreal to see ice fishermen out on an a frozen lake whose days as such are clearly numbered while on the shore people were laying out trying to get that melanin working again.

I just kept thinking how amazing it was to not have to wear a coat!


March 13, 2010

How we started our year

Those of you who have been reading this here blog for over 3 months may recall that we went away and got hitched. This was a very private sort of thing, not really something I want to blow up in this space. But, as nice clothing was worn, and it almost all came from local boutiques, I'll share with you at least that much.

I came up on my gown 5 days after getting engaged last June at, well, June, the loveliest resale boutique in all the Twin Cities. (I also bought some awesome patent leather boots that same day, and then told you about them. Remember?)

It's Alberta Ferretti and is made of silk and wool and hand beading. It was my first time going into June. I still remember seeing it just like this on the mannequin. And to be completely honest with you, I didn't even care about it at first! I was planning (already had an outfit plan) on wearing something much less sparkly. In fact the original plan was for something long and slip-like, no sparkle at all. This gown seemed a bit over the top for someone like me, someone who was, on that fateful day, sweaty in a tank top and booty shorts on my way to happy hour via bicycle.

Oh but then I tried it on. I had that moment. And I bought it. I mean, it was to be a New Year's Eve wedding. Of course sparkly would work. And the detailing is pretty amazing.
So here we are in Los Angeles about to get married on New Year's Eve. Mike's suit came from BlackBlue boutique in St. Paul, and he also told you all about it last year.

(Karen Elson wore it better in black.)
Everything about the wedding was perfect. I had to make a costume change out of that gown, though. It was quite heavy, and not conducive to dancing all night on New Year's Eve. For that portion of the evening, I wore a black Stella McCartney dress covered in grosgrain ribbon detailing. I wasn't really making an effort to get a good blog outfit photo, sorry... It's this one:
with no sleeves:The Wolfords were also involved, and a popcorn machine.Aww.xo.

March 10, 2010

A Time to Shop: Rewind Vintage

Rewind Vintage is a gem tucked away in the Northeast (locals, am I really supposed to say Nordeast?) at Johnson St. between 28th and 29th. It's super on-point with current trends, meaning instead of getting that 90s-esque floral dress at UO, you can just get an actual 90s dress. Which is better anyhow, because it's Esprit and how funny is that? This is where I found my Escada bandage skirt.

After one visit I was drawn back to this store. It is always well-merchandised, and I'm developing a 6th sense for the types of items I can expect to find when I visit. It's filled with tons of brightly colored, fun, very wearable 70s-90s vintage.

On my recent birthday trip I awkwardly asked the owner if I could play with my new camera in her store. She kindly humored me.

There is a great selection of leather jackets, and I'm always hunting for the perfect one. I don't own any leather jackets, and I'm not quite sure what the "perfect" one for me will look like. Preferably one that doesn't make me look like I'm packing ninja stars (Asian dilemma). Bright colors are probably a good start.

I tried on this peach skirt. It would have been nice if I hadn't gained 10 lbs. over winter and been eating ham all week. Oh well. I got a pastel safari print A-line with an elastic waistband instead. And my hat! We mustn't forget the hat!

It should be known that there is a quite respectable selection of women's shoes and jewelry.

Leather boots of all sorts line the baseboards throughout the store, and the rotation has been new every time I've gone in.

As for the jewelry, this is maybe 5% of what's available:

I really love that cross necklace. My love of awesome religious (esp. Catholic) iconography and kitsch is where I've had to make a marriage compromise. Mike just can't deal.
I also very much adore the necklace on the countertop here. Damn, maybe I needed that?

Other things I noticed include a great selection of 70s maxi dresses and jumpsuits, lots of 90s long sleeve body con minis a la A. Wang, ex:

And a truly excellent Western shirt. Some flaxen-haired maiden is going to look awesome in this.

And on the boy's side, a sweet little accessories set-up.

The best boots ever.

Not to mention loads of clothes.

And these brogues. I was a big fan. They are actually a larger women's size (can't remember it exactly).

So when you are driving up Johnson Street, look out for it. Better yet, plan a trip. (As you can see on the left-hand side of this picture,) it's thawing out, melting off, and will soon be Springtime. The best time! A time for love. And for shopping.