January 22, 2011

Presently Feeling

I've been revisiting my old friend, style.com. It's been a while. Spring fashion wasn't really something I could even think about until very recently. Looks started showing up in magazines, with declarations about White! Colors! Prints! and so I was compelled to look. Kinda boring stuff this round, no? I mean, I'm way late. Entire months have passed since the runway shows. And, yes, I love the Prada flat platforms. But the clothes? What am I missing?

I'm much more drawn to a few pre-fall collections and some of the fall menswear shows right now. I'm not a buyer or editor, so the fashion cycle really doesn't matter to my life. I just take the vast output of creativity seen in show cycles as a point of departure for thinking about where I want to take my own look in the coming season. Right now, I'm really feeling this fall 2011 Walter Van Beirendonck.

The presentation made me smile. The models' antennae and face paint give them an otherworldly, cartoonish vibe. But when you break it down to its components, the looks are composed of mostly well-tailored and wearable suits, shirts, and sweaters - with the option of unbuttoning the underside of sleeves to make a cape, giving our man options.

But for me, a lady who won't wear a full suit, I'm feeling the way grayscale and other neutrals are mixed with vibrant colors. Unlike the extreme color blocking set against stark white of Jil Sander, or the colors gone wild at Prada (which I don't see as really viable looks for myself, both are far too shiny) this mixes what I already love about head-to-toe neutral monochrome with aqua, kelly green, hot pink, and yellow.

I've suppressed my love for these sorts of colors for some time now, but I think finding a way to have the clean, polished look seen here -- just under the surface of wacky hair and a few unwearable (for most) patchwork and shag rug creations -- with some extra bright touches, especially in the shoes, will bring me springtime dressing joy. I'll show you in five more months...

January 18, 2011

It's In the Blends

This is a post about a recent sweater bounty and the related sweater lessons I've learned in the past 3 years of dealing with actual winter. It really did take 3 winters for this shit to sink into my brain mush, too. That's how entrenched my ideas about clothes were in my early 20s.

But let's just look at the goods, then talk after.

1. The chunky knit 
After making that text bigger I meditated on the phrase "chunky knit" long enough for it to become an absurd series of sounds. Then, I googled "chunky knit," as I came to disbelieve that people could use this phrase as a description for clothing. All I can think about right now are these Campbell's chunky soup commercials that make eating soup seem fucking manly. Also, the second search result for "chunky knit" (after shopstyle.com) was a personal twitter, @chunkyknit. He likes Devendra Banhart, apparently.
But the real lesson of this chunky knit sweater is in its ingredients. Haggar Casuals was not fucking around when it comes to maximizing comfort in every way with this blend. Unlike so many wool fisherman's style sweaters at the top of every trend whore's Christmas wish list, this delicate and soft ugly vintage sweater is silky smooth but still very thick and warm. The silk seems to help it drape rather than take on the classic round shape of so many heavy wool vintage sweaters. And surprisingly, there is no wool at all. Just cotton and silk. Also, it's taupe, which sealed the deal.

 2. The Cher Horowitz
I wouldn't have called it that, but the first day I wore this out two different people connected it to Clueless in less than an hour. I guess an entire generation will forever associate cropped sweaters and collared shirts with our girl Cher. I can't lie, it's sort of what I was going for.
This time silk and wool come together. It may seem silly or a little OCD to get this into the tags on my clothing, but I've realized that I have favorites when it comes to fabric blends. I don't like to buy vintage nylon, acrylic, or polyester no matter how quirky the animal print sweater may be, because I'll never wear something that makes me sweat to death and feel itchy. I'm delicate like that. Before this 3-sweater purchase my only non-cardigan full-frontal-coverage sweater involved a sash/bow, was from H&M, and was made entirely of black acrylic. One day, I walked 4 blocks in the snow and was covered in heat rash by the time I got home because of that sweater. I sold it to Buffalo Exchange.

3. The classic black crew neck
It's only within the last year of life that I have truly embraced and begun to regularly wear the crew neck. Actually, let's make that within the last month. Growing up, I avoided them completely because of a weird fear of choking. I'm neurotic about things touching the front of my neck (throat), but these sweaters are soft and stretchy enough not to make me gag.  To be honest, my interest in this shape was sparked in part through dead fleurette's numerous posts about such lovely basics on her blog.
It must also sound crazy that I wasn't wearing crew necks in Minnesota before, but it was truly just this year that I realized I should keep my chest warm and set out to find some of these ugly things. Before, I just wore a lot of cardigan and scarf combos and looked more J. Crew than I'm comfortable with. Winter style... what a bummer.  Anyhow, this photo doesn't show the blend, but this one's 85% cotton and 15% cashmere, which also works out amazingly. Full cashmere is way too fluffy grandparent. Cotton helps keep it really thin and breathable and the cashmere adds just a tiny bit of extra softness.

I bought all three of these secondhand at Buffalo Exchange in Minneapolis. 1 and 3 were over on the men's side of the aisle. Each was around $20 or less. I think I did pretty well that day.

January 13, 2011

Unsnowy Moments

Our trip to the bay area was far too brief, but filled with goodness. Mostly, we indulged in the loving company of very good friends and a lot of food. We also bought a couple garment-y things. I didn't photo essay the whole trip, but there were some lovely moments in the sun and a notable shopping experience I thought I'd share.

There are hardly any photos of me from this trip, but it's fine because basically I wore this coat the entire time. The always beautiful Gerald makes another appearance! Looking at this picture makes me realize how much I love growing older.

Speaking of getting old, a week before leaving I found these hardly worn Tod's suede loafers secondhand for $17. I got to break them in, here at Golden Gate park.
That park was incredibly beautiful. I was freaking out the whole trip about seeing so much plant life again. I made Mike sit here because the light looked like Fern Gully.
Later, I tried on these United Nude heels and figured I should buy them because it's vacation, they were on a serious markdown, they are surprisingly easy to walk in, and why not? Spring will eventually happen again, I'm almost sure.

Speaking of the new year in dressing, spring, summer, being older in 2011, personal style, and all that business... Something occurred to me on this trip. I am bored of my style. Very, very bored. There is so much plainness and I don't get to wear my "show pieces" as I call them, like, ever. Winter is tough.

But Mike and I had one of those magical shop experiences that restores hope. We went to Modern Appealing Clothing, and fell in love with the entire store and the amazing owners. I got to fondle the fall Dries collection, the dreamiest Jil Sander bag, Walter Van Bierendonck sweaters, and some real good Margiela. And when we left, our purchases were placed inside this rad canvas tote by an artist, Tara Tucker. It's a "bored boar."

Mike found a slim cut Woolrich jacket that fits nearly perfect off the rack, and an awesome cotton scarf by Engineered Garments with a vintage paisley print.
I can't wait to borrow the scarf.
On a side note, I love the texture of his shoes.

Back at Modern Appealing Clothing (I'm not sure, are you supposed to call it by the full name, or pronounce the acronym by letter, or say the word "mac"?) I had a moment that has stayed with me. I was drawn to these tights by Tsumori Chisato.

This pair is really thick and warm sweater material, which makes sense for my winter situation.

This pair is just really special.

And a touch subversive in their cuteness.

Holding both in my hands, I realized that I want more prints in my life. I know that's right on trend for spring, but it's something I've been thinking about and working toward for some time now. (It's not like prints are really new or anything.) But prints, like colors, are so much harder. At this point I think that I had to go "minimal" (black) in my early-mid-twenties as a master cleanse for my outsides. There was just so much bad junk clogging up my appearance. It became really easy to drape myself in black white and gray, but I need a new challenge. It's true that I've never totally abandoned prints. I have polka dots, plaids, an elephants in a jungle skirt, tie dyes, laces... But I don't feel as at ease styling them, and I don't rotate them into the everyday wear quite as much.

I ended up explaining my ongoing love of prints and weirdness (as opposed to my other love of chic minimalism) to one of the (presumed) owners of MAC, who told me that my personal style is probably somewhere in between the two. He is totally right. I think I just have to figure out the most comfortable balance so I don't feel like I'm playing dress up as either a chic minimalist power woman or a quirky art girl, because I'm not really either of those things.

January 2, 2011


We had what I'll call an "understated" holiday season this year. But tomorrow morning that will all change, as we get the fuck up outta Minnesota.
No more snow mounds taller than me. 
No more walking on ice sheets.
No more negative temperatures.
No more not going outdoors at all for entire days, simultaneously (weird!).
And hello San Francisco, California!


Here is what we won't be missing.

Although it does look kind of idyllic in photos, this environment is my white oppressor.

But we try to have fun with it. Like this one time last week when Mike wore a vintage Pendleton tweed coat with a fur collar, paired with sweatpants (Christmas gift from me, ha!) and rubber boots to walk with me to check in on a friend's cats.

Or this other time when I dressed up as a winter hobo (polka dot tights!).

One of the most comforting outfits of my winter.

The  amount of snow dumped upon us this season is frightening.

But these Dr. Marten's boots have been coming through for me in a big way.

So there's that.

But we are going to forget about it all for five wonderful days, and I'm planning to go bare-ankle as much as possible. While Mike grew up in northern California, I've never spent much time there. I would love any suggestions of places to go and things to do in the bay area. 

Happy New Year!