Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Service of Dress Codes

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Photo: vimeo.com

Photo: vimeo.com

I’m late to the discussion of whether or not the United Airlines gate agent was right or wrong to refuse two teens’ entrance to a flight because they wore leggings that were considered inappropriate dress. Nevertheless I still wanted to chime in. I wrote about a similar subject last September referencing a radio talk show host’s wish that airline crews would be more assertive in refusing entrance to passengers who were dressed in clothing with offensive messages, in outlandish décolleté and the like.

Regarding leggings, I see people out in public in NYC who shouldn’t be wearing them anywhere but the gym. They are easy to maintain and less expensive than some fashion alternatives which no doubt accounts for their popularity.  But would you wear your bathing suit on the street if you were going to the Y for a swim?

One woman on the subway with an unusually beautiful face and hair had thighs the size of wine casks—I’ve rarely seen such huge limbs–and she proudly wore lycra leggings with no jacket or shirt to cover an inch of them. 

Photo flagship.com

Photo flagship.com

Back to the gate agent: The airline had rules that if you were a “pass rider,” as the evicted teens were, you were subject to a certain dress code because you were given a deep dish discount thanks to your friend or family relationship to an employee.

In this case, I side with the airline: If you accept their gift, they hold the cards. Pay full price and dress as you like.

Children in uniformMy siding with the airlines happens for a lot of reasons. First, I believe in rules: you break them at your own risk. Second, I wore a uniform for grades 1 through 12 and we were told we represent the school when dressed in identifiable clothes. Although it’s impossible to tell who paid what for the ticket they hold, and therefore who represents the airline, United presented a similar argument in designing its regulation.

The good news: With rules like United’s at least a fraction of the travelers will be required to exhibit some kind of respectability. Who wants to be subjected to the repulsive appearance of fellow passengers while confined in the space of a plane? We appreciate our freedoms but people can’t be trusted to use common sense. I can hear a chorus of “Who determines what is and isn’t appropriate anyway?” My response, arrogant though it may sound, “if you have to ask, you’ll never understand.” Do you agree?

freedom

Service of the Comfort of Vintage

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

La la Land movie poster

Whatever “vintage” means to you—if you’re 20, 1980s films, fashion and décor might describe it while if you’re 50, it could be all things 1950. For some there’s comfort and perhaps a soothing visual to live with a grandparent’s furnishings; for others, reminiscences shared with an uncle while watching Audrey Hepburn on Turner Classic Movies brings smiles.

I thought of this after seeing “La La Land,” a movie I enjoyed. The writer/director Damien Chazelle is 31 yet he picked the 1940s/1950s romantic musical genre for the setting of his story. He added zero pyrotechnics, violence or gore and none were missed. The film set a record at the Golden Globe Awards winning seven including recognition for best motion picture—musical or comedy—performance by an actor and actress, director, screenplay, original score and original song.

Elle.com ran a article about what’s in or out in fashion. Nikkitight jeans Ogunnaike reported we should “anticipate a shift toward contrast denim styles in vintage silhouettes.” [This look is in contrast to skin- tight jeans popular today.]

I’d saved a December, 2016 section of The Wall Street Journal‘s “Off Duty,” because of its cover story, “Presents with a Past,” that featured 50 nostalgic gifts “whose origins date back decades and beyond.” The subhead continued that the gifts will “conjure a simpler time when the holidays were lower-voltage, but just as bright.”

Sidney Garber bracelet

Sidney Garber bracelet

Speaking of voltage, most of the suggestions would burn a hole in most wallets. There was a gold bracelet by Sidney Garber reminiscent of flexible metal coils first popular in the 1930s for $12,200; a 3-day slumber party at a historic English country estate @ $15,600/night for 16; Prada’s jewel encrusted mules for $1,150; a $685 pair of retro headphones; a mink stole for $5,500 and a chauffer to drive you from Paris to Versailles in a period Citroen starting at $370.

I don’t spend that kind of money for the loved ones on my list. The Wall Street Journal editors chose a few things under $100 too. There was a box of Turkish delight [$35]; a rubber band-propelled toy car [$25]; an apron [$47]; a ‘70s popular fondue pot [$95]; traditional Belgian speculoos cookies [$20]; a Mickey Mouse wall clock featuring a 1930s style rodent [$65], and an Italian knit necktie [[$90].

The J. Peterman Company catalog seems to be going strong with its focus on vintage-inspired men and women’s fashion.

Have you noticed vintage influences creeping back more now than in recent years? Do you welcome them or consider them old fashioned and therefore not worthy of your attention? Do you think that in turbulent times people look back to what they recall or think may have been a calmer period?

 Belgian Speculoos cookies

Service of Buyer’s Remorse

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Photo: realsimple.com

Photo: realsimple.com

“The Lists Issue: Style and Fashion” page of last weekend’s Wall Street Journal’s “Off Duty” section asked five “stylish men” to report their “most regrettable purchase.” These included three pairs of a Clark shoes–all the same–that the owner tired of; a suede Ralph Lauren car coat with too much fringe; Nike sneakers with pink and purple accents bought online while under the influence of Ambien; a $450 umbrella from London enjoyed for 31 minutes before being left behind in a taxi and boots purchased on Piperlime, [it’s out of business now], with too thin soles discovered while walking five miles in a parade.

Too tight shoesShoes that hurt account for most of my mistakes along with a pasta maker I never had time to use so I eventually gave it away after dragging it, with good intentions, from home to home.

However, the one that stings the most and longest was a red dress I pleaded with my mother to buy when I was in eighth grade so I’d have something to wear at a Christmas party at school. We wore uniforms—except on Friday when we could dress in civilian clothes. My mother said, “You don’t like red and will never again wear this dress.” Nevertheless she bought it for me and I don’t think I ever did wear it again. When I think of it I still cringe at my selfishness.

What are some things you’ve regretted buying? Have you learned something from each experience or do you keep making the same mistakes?

 Girls red dress

Service of Wardrobe and Grooming: Planning Ahead for Women and Men

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Jane sanders

Last week I sent a note to winners attending the Christopher Awards this Thursday to ask them to look for me because I’d like to include them in a group photo that I’ll send media after the event.

It’s always a scramble to gather a good number of people by category–in this case authors of winning books–during the cocktail hour. I like as many as possible to share in the publicity opportunity. It’s awkward and disrespectful to tuck into a group of people happily talking, stare at a name on a badge, and turn away from someone because they aren’t the person you’re looking for so this year I also made myself a sheet with their publicity photos.

To help me find them, two of the women wrote back immediately describing the dress they were going toSarah palin wear—one bright pink; the other a green floral. Both my collaborator on the project, David Reich, and my husband laughed in wonderment that they knew so far in advance what they were going to wear. A third woman, after asking about the dress code, reported she’d wear a long skirt and dressy top.

I related to them: For one thing, I need to determine if what I plan to wear needs to be ironed by me or a dry cleaner. My hair stylist doesn’t work on Thursdays and no matter what I wear, if I’m not happy with how my hair looks, I could be in vintage Chanel and I wouldn’t be happy. However, the wonderful stylist, who understands these things, said she’d come in on Thursday for me.

And I’m wallpaper at this event.

Think of what it must be like for a woman running for office—or the spouse of a man who stands on countless stages in line of the camera’s eye. Men have a big advantage. They only need to decide on necktie color—blue or red—and to be sure the tie has no mayo stain.

Elizabeth warrenEverything about a woman is under scrutiny. You’ve never seen one wear the same favorite day after day, photo after photo. On the contrary, most on the national stage don’t wear the same jacket twice. Bad hair days are out. And makeup? Maybe D. Trump is concerned about the latter two but both are essential for women.

How far ahead do you plan your wardrobe for a special occasion as a guest at a wedding, graduation, baptism, or naming or as part of the team at a product launch, awards, client or fundraising event? Do you agree that most women have this disadvantage?

Hillary clinton

 

Service of Giving Up Trying

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Older woman Rolex

When I read Jennifer Weiner’s piece, “One Day We Can Stop Trying, Right?” in a recent Sunday New York Times “Review” section, I immediately thought of my friend Harriet. In her 80s, less than a week before her death, she went with her companion to Daffy’s, a now defunct discount fashion store, looking for pretty things to wear. I can hear Harriet calling down from heaven with an answer to the question in Weiner’s headline. We’d hear an ear-splitting “NO.”

Harriet always looked terrific, her hair just-so. I remember a striking cornflower blue sweater she wore on one of the last days I saw her. She was indomitable, for years traveling alone across country to meetings with a bag full of meds and a horrifying lineup of chronic conditions that might have kept most close to home. [I didn’t learn about her illnesses for years and only then when I went to the hospital with her in Boston when she fell and broke her arm.]

gray hair style 4Was Harriet trying to look young or to get the most out of her life? She always wanted to look good and enjoyed compliments about her wardrobe, which were well-deserved.

I felt that Ms. Weiner implied that because a woman wants to look good it means she wants to look young and given the examples she chose to illustrate her piece, weight has a lot, if not everything, to do with achieving the goal. [I think that some women of all shapes and sizes who “dress too young” look older than they are especially when it comes to décolleté evening dresses that reveal old wrinkly skin and saggy breasts, but this is off topic].

Gray hair style 3She also seemed to be critical when she wrote, “The truth, as any woman can tell you, is that there’s no place, no profession, nowhere that a woman’s looks don’t matter.” And she used as an example members of a London group called Overweight Haters Ltd, who handed out nasty cards about gluttony to overweight people on the Tube. I have friends who are not thin and always look grand. Think about the giant benefit of being zaftig: You don’t have wrinkles.

In one of two major examples, Weiner maligned Oprah for promoting Weight Watchers as its spokesperson. She argued that such diets don’t work because the weight loss doesn’t last and suggested what if instead of “investing in paid diets and microdermabrasion, we donated our dollars to worthy charities and gave our time to the food pantry or elementary school? What if we thought about adding things to our lives—new foods, new skills, new classes, new walking routes—instead of taking things away?” Rather than following the Weight Watchers slogan “Lose weight and gain so much more,” she suggested for the new year that we “look beyond the superficial and all resolve to make more of ourselves, not less.”

Three womenCan’t women do all this and look good at the same time whether or not they are thin?

She criticized Kyle Smith of The New York Post. He responded to Carrie Fisher’s plea to fans via tweets that they stop discussing whether or not she’d aged well since the last time they saw her almost 40 years ago as Princess Leia Organa in “Star Wars” when she was 19. [One would hope she’d aged….goodness me!] She’d lost weight for the new film and Weiner wrote that Smith posited Fisher should thank the studio for making her healthy. She verbally winced at the contention that thin equaled healthy.

Fashion designer Eileen Fisher and her daughter Sasha

Fashion designer Eileen Fisher and her daughter Sasha

If a woman wants to look her best, does that mean she wants to look young and must be thin? What about men? Don’t most want to look good? Is there a point at which a woman or a man in good health, with sufficient funds, should stop trying and say, “To heck with it, I can’t be bothered to clean myself up for any reason or occasion?” And doesn’t attitude play a part?

Older woman Lanvin

 

Service of Food Fashion

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Kale bin at Adams on Dec. 23, 2014

Kale bin at Adams on Dec. 23, 2014

 

I’ve covered this topic before but was inspired to write a reprise from a slightly different point of view.

I recently heard a gentleman farmer note that nobody bought beets from his stand beetsthis summer yet they were popular until then, yet, he said, he couldn’t refill fava bean bins fast enough. Have you made fava beans? They take forever to open. Where do these people find the time?

A few days later I passed what was left of the kale at Adams in Kingston, N.Y. on the eve of New Years eve. Next to healthy piles of eggplant, carrots, broccoli and nearby peppers mere scraps of individual branches remained. [I could understand why many stalks of attractive asparagus stood tall at $4.99/lb.]

Do you follow your taste buds or food trends? If you liked beets last year, why wouldn’t you like them this year? Is one website or TV cooking program wielding palpable influence on food choices? How do certain foods, like turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes keep their places no matter what?

typical thanksgiving dinner

Service of Nostalgia III

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Loehmann's

I haven’t covered this topic in quite a while and I hesitated doing so about this retail store that’s closing its doors because I’d dropped it as a must visit well over a dozen years ago when it became a shadow of itself. [Multiply me by millions of others and no doubt there's the major reason it's no longer in business.]

Navy blue sweaterAt one time and for years and years Loehmann’s was the place I depended on for my wardrobe. It was a store for people who love to shop, have an eye and lots of patience. This wasn’t the store to find a specific garment, such as a navy blue sweater or gray jacket. [Evening gowns were often an exception. In the day there usually was a perfect one at the right price but to be safe, you had to shop long before you needed it just in case you struck out.]

Some standout purchases: a spectacular raincoat and a magnificently tailored jacket better made than anything I owned–both with microscopic price tags. I tried on the jacket in spite of the marked size–far bigger than mine–and it fit perfectly. [It was such an incredible bargain that I kept the blue price tag in the jacket pocket for years because finding it there cheered me up.] Folks find great deals on line, but you can’t always tell quality—or lack of same–from a photo.

white blouseOne recognized challenge for Loehmann’s shoppers was that you’d buy slacks, a skirt or jacket and need a blouse to coordinate. Friends paid a fortune elsewhere. Not me: My budget taught me patience. Eventually I owned enough Loehmann’s odds and ends so I could create combinations that worked.

Audrey Hepburn BreakfastIn addition to evening gowns, the store was known for a great selection of winter coats. I predicted the death knell for the store in 1998 when I visited the Manhattan branch [for most of its successful life you had to hop a subway to Brooklyn or the Bronx], and there were only a handful of styles in any size–a first and a shock. You didn’t always find a coat you loved but you could count on a generous selection.

I have many Loehmann’s memories–the weirdo on the empty Bronx subway platform; Saturday evening jaunts that included a dash in to pick stuff to try on, a 5:30 church break to catch mass down the street and back again to vet the selections and the greasy spoon where we’d grab a bite before the store moved from Jerome Avenue–but enough about me.

As a lifelong discount shopper, long before such shopping was in fashion, I know that a store must meet its customers’ expectations while simultaneously keeping up with the times. Take Century 21. You can buy many of its bargains on line.

Can you predict the demise of a retail store or do you miss one that’s changed dramatically or that’s already gone?

Bonwit Teller

 

Service of Salvaged & Recycled Material in Art & Craft

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

 

Nancy Kubale's "Traveler II," incorporates recycled barn wood

Nancy Kubale’s “Traveler II,” incorporates recycled barn wood

My client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn, December 14-15, at the landmark Brooklyn Museum Beaux-Arts Court, exemplifies the importance of found or recycled materials in art and craft by some of the country’s most talented, creative artists and artisans.

By chance, so does one of the museum’s current exhibitions: “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.” The artist combines found materials, magazine cutouts, sculpture, and painted imagery in her work. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu’s studio is in Brooklyn now.

Back at the craft show, I’m calling out just four exhibitors of the many I might pick: an artist, sculptor, jeweler and fashion accessories designer. They incorporate salvaged and recycled materials prominently in their creations and are among the 90 artisans and artists who will sell their best the weekend after this one. 

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

Artist/exhibitor Jinsheng Wang writes on his website: “I look at salvaged materials with an open mind. I reformat the sequence or rhythm of things. The old items become new when I take them apart and reassemble them. The purpose and fashion re-energized.” He began working in traditional sculpture, then abstract and today his focus is to transform salvaged materials into art.

Wang, who moved to the US from China 20+ years ago, said hobbies inspire his work. “My art is part of my personal American experience. I became a semi-professional record and music collector and naturally, from my passion, came my Turntable and Bonzai Beebop series. Collecting music also helped me better understand American history and culture. The latter series has a practical use. I restore vintage tube radios making them into amplifiers, adding a speaker so that you can use them to listen to music from an iPod or Walkman.” 

Nancy Kubale's "Friends"

Nancy Kubale’s “Friends”

Found pieces enhance Nancy Kubale’s ceramic sculptures. On her website she describes the many steps she takes to create her ceramic figures that she fires three to five times, previously handbuilding them in stoneware clay and layering the surfaces with glazes, slips and stains. “Often the work is in pieces after the final firing and is then assembled with wood, metal, fiber and found objects,” she wrote. 

Connie Verrusio jewelry

Connie Verrusio jewelry

On her website Connie Verrusio admitted: “I never throw anything away. I’m a pack rat and a flea market junkie. Where others see outmoded technologies and broken machines, I see jewels just waiting for the right setting.” She described how some 20 years ago she discovered Canal Surplus, a tiny NYC store filled with “bins of mechanical detritus.” She’d leave the store with “a small bag of treasures and filthy hands” which “kicked off a jewelry-making career focused around the beauty of utilitarian objects.”  

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

For her 10-year-old fashion accessories business, Look At Me Designs, Melanie Cohen-Peddle has had one mission: “To create eco-friendly, fashion forward, one of a kind, wearable pieces of art. Every item is handmade from, or embellished with, recycled materials.” This year’s introductions focus on boot accessories from cuffs and cozies to toppers and she also designs hats, tunics, capes, T-shirts and skirts.

These artists are truly inspired by found and recycled materials but aren’t they also making an important statement about the tremendous waste we generate today? Can you share examples of others who identify beauty in salvaged materials? Have you decorated with or worn items incorporating found or recycled materials?

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

Service of You Never Know

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Paris Evening Bag

You never know: That seems to be my motto. I like to be prepared which accounts for the weight of my handbags and totes ever since college when I’d drag home the semester’s texts in the event I had time to study for January finals during Christmas vacation. I never did but the books where there in case.

This is not just a woman thing. My husband drags eight to 12 lbs of books and papers in a tote on the train every Friday. When I ask him if he refers to all the materials in two days he insists they are essential. I had a boss whose doctor suggested that he leave his briefcase in the office until his tennis elbow, brought on by its weight—not the swing of a racquet—had time to heal.

Red everyday bagThis season I reduced the size of my summer bag exponentially. To do so I reviewed the keys I’d carried for years that made me look like a superintendant in a high-rise apartment building. I’ve tossed more than half that opened past apartment and office doors—I hope. I’ve moved some stuff from my winter bag to a moderate sized tote that makes the trip back and forth from work and put other things away. It’s been three weeks and I’m still not relaxed about it.

In “Get A New Bag, Lose Five Pounds,” Elizabeth Holmes wrote: “Small is the big thing in handbag fashion, as clutches, cross-body bags and shrunken versions of full-size styles replace large, heavy totes.” In her Wall Street Journal article she continued: “Women accustomed to carrying around everything they could possibly need—an umbrella, a change of shoes, a bottle of water—are downsizing to a bag that holds just the essentials: a cellphone, keys, an ID and a credit or debit card and a lipstick.”

What about business cards, brush, blush, hand sanitizer and a pen? My evening bag [photo at top] is bigger than this. When using it at a business event I’m lightly anxious that I’ll need something that’s missing.

Coach clutchFran Della Badia, an executive at Coach, told Holmes that she uses a clutch the size of an iPad at lunches and meetings. I love the look but clutches are out of the question for me with the exception of that evening bag. I normally require something that hangs on my shoulder or crosses my body and frees my hands.

Chiropractor Karen Erickson estimates that on average women’s handbags weigh from three to five pounds according to Holmes. While I complain when I lug around my laptop and charger—on average, minus charger, laptops weigh about five pounds—I don’t whine about the heft of my bigger handbag. If asked to hold it for a second, others have been known to groan.

Do you carry around more than you usually need or use? Why do you think that is?

Chanel Bag

Chanel Bag

Service of Sample Sales

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

sample-sale-4

I’ve written countless times how much I love discount shopping so it’s hardly a surprise that one seasonal tradition has been a look-see at a well known brand’s annual sample sale with my friend Elaine Siegel. For years we first meet for a bite of lunch and then we stroll the aisles looking for scarves, gloves, handbags and other fashion accessories.

sample-sale-11As we got off the elevator at this one we were at the back of a long line and thought we misheard an order to give up our handbags. We were told that we could keep our wallets. The coat check wasn’t taking coats. Hundreds of women ahead of us gladly complied. It felt so wrong to me–and Elaine, who said that the invitation didn’t warn that this would happen. So we went upstairs to another sample sale of an equally well known brand.

sample-sale-3As we emerged from the elevator, there was nobody in this lobby so we naturally formed a line and were shrieked at by a surly guard that we were in the wrong place and to move the line to where he was pointing. As we did I slipped off my winter jacket–it was hot indoors. He barked, as though I was Paul Newman in jail in “Cool Hand Luke,” [which was recently on Turner Classic Movies], “PUT THAT BACK ON!” and pointed to where I should go next. “Next” was the coat check, without a coat in sight. The staffer wanted my handbag. Elaine and I left that place as well.

If theft was an issue, why couldn’t these places ask us to open our handbags as we emerged from the sale? Seems simple enough.

sample-sale-21There are so many bargains to be had in the NY Metro area in any economy and these days, the opportunities grow geometrically. Nobody else left the first sale with us and one woman joined us in leaving the second one for the reasons we did.

How long will people be willing to suffer such indignity and discomfort? Who wants to stay in a place for long wearing a winter coat, worrying about the security of their handbag, cell phone, credit cards and other personal things?

This bargain hunter and her friend Elaine would rather do without. And you?

 sample-sale-6

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