Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Halloween should mix the original with the risque

In grade school, Halloween was about gathering copious amounts of candy and having your mother terrified that the creepy neighbor might hide some anthrax in with the Milky Ways.

In high school, Halloween was about joking with your friends about being the oldest trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood.

In college, however, Halloween is about making questionable choices about hemlines.

This weekend, partygoers everywhere have the opportunity to banish their usual jeans-and-tank uniform to the back of their cramped closets in favor of something a little bit more ... original.

There’s something about Halloween that gives people the confidence to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t dare. Maybe it’s all the chocolate. Maybe it’s all the blood-red jungle juice. Regardless, I just feel sorry for the girls who regularly dress like they’re hopping on a table for open-heart surgery — that is to say, in very little clothing. For one weekend each year, these little tartlets have competition. Girls that usually bare less skin than Reese Witherspoon in “Election” suddenly check their sartorial morals at the door and take to the streets looking like, well, a streetwalker.

There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as getting liquored up and revealing to someone, while wearing fairy wings, that you’ve secretly been eyeing him from the other side of your Intro to Cultural Anthropology lecture all semester. The only thing better? Having to walk home the next morning in said fairy wings. Don’t forget, kids, if your costume advertises that you’re the kind of person who will indulge in a one-night stand, the walk of shame will be that much more embarrassing. I once heard a story about some poor guy who had to walk home at 9:30 a.m. dressed as a ballerina. The worst part? The first of November was a weekday, so everyone saw him on their way to class. Oops.

In case you’ve waited until the last minute and still don’t have a clue what to dress up as this year, I’ve taken the liberty of thinking up a few suggestions, ranging from hooker to class act, from which to choose, according to your personal tramp preference. From this point forward, we will euphemistically refer to this skank factor as the broadometer.

Michelle Obama: Belted plaid cardigan, full pleated skirt, pointy flats.

Broadometer: Zero. Hello, it’s the first lady! Though, if you really wanted to be risqué, I suppose you could make it a mini-pleated skirt.

Cast of “Gossip Girl”: This style-centric teen drama has some of the best costumes in the business, so pick your favorite character and go to town.

Broadometer: 2.5 (Blair)—8.6 (Serena). Depending on your level of modesty, there’s a look for everybody. Conservative gals can don a bowed headband and go as Miss Waldorf, while the risk-takers can take a cue from Serena. (Seriously, the level of cleavage she’s been revealing lately is unbelievable. Who’s allowed to go to work like that?) And if you want to go with a more traditional, gothic Halloween look — in the same vein as zombies and Frankenstein’s monster — just pile on the eyeliner and go as Jenny.

Adam and Eve: Get some flesh-colored undergarments — or not — and accessorize with leaves.

Broadometer: 10. I mean, you’re basically naked. It doesn’t get much more scandalous than that.
Personally, I think a more admirable alternative to dressing like a strumpet is to use Halloween as an opportunity to test out a fashion trend you’re otherwise too scared to try. Looking for an excuse to buy aviators? Guys, go as Michael Jackson; ladies, Amelia Earhart. Not sure if you can pull off rompers? Dress up as anything in a uniform — a mailman, UPS delivery person, etc. Craving the opportunity to don some sparkly latex? Give David Bowie a try.

If you’re looking to go pants-less this Hallows Eve but want something more original than the Queen of Leotards, Lady Gaga, I say dress up as my favorite muse, Edie Sedgwick. Pull on some black tights, a striped shirt and a fur jacket. Don’t be surprised if someone asks you to star in their next movie project.

Really, the costume possibilities are endless. Just use a little creativity and have fun with it. So enjoy a safe and happy Halloween, boys and girls.

Be sure to check your candy for suspicious punctures and maybe throw a big sweatshirt into your bag for the morning after. You know, just in case.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recession's Roots

OK, so: Refinery 29 had this posting today about ombre hair. As in like, hair that fades from one color to another from root to end. Like this:

Now, as much as I would like to believe that this is the latest in coiffure trendsetting, I'm just not buying it. This is completely, 100% visible proof that we are IN A RECESSION. Just in case you didn't know. Ladies can't afford constant salon visits to keep their roots touched up.
Exhibit A? My own grown out highlights. This picture is embarrassing on all kinds of levels, but because I like you guys, I'll share it with you. Let's not get judgy, ok?
Luckily, I'm getting this little situation taken care of on Thursday after class, just in time for Halloween weekend photo ops. A big thank you in advance to Anthony over at Spa Uptown for saving me from any future embarrassment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

'The September Issue' offers chance to walk in Wintour's stilettos

“The September Issue”
Starring: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Andre Leon Talley
Director: R.J. Cutler
A&E IndieFilms
Grade: A-

The small screen has taken an increased interest in the fashion industry in recent years, indulging the pleasures of die-hard magazine readers and giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look with varying degrees of success.

“The Rachel Zoe Project” led us into the famed stylist’s catch phrase-filled world of celebrity-dressing hysteria, and for the most part, it seemed believable. “The Hills,” on the other hand, wasn’t even close at giving us a firsthand account of the magazine business. Unless, of course, Heidi Montag’s morning grooming rituals are considered insider information. “America’s Next Top Model” tried to convey what it takes to become a successful supermodel, but Tyra Banks’ self-branding agenda got in the way more often than not.

Luckily for those genuinely interested in gaining temporary access into the industry, the fashion gods have teamed up with director R.J. Cutler to give us “The September Issue.” Critically acclaimed at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the film scooped up a win for cinematography and a nomination for the grand jury prize.

The film is bracketed around the creation of the behemoth five-pound September 2007 issue of Vogue. As the months and weeks whittle away, we watch as Anna Wintour — the editor of Vogue for over two decades now — and her Voguettes click-clack around the Conde Nast office in killer stilettos. Just a glimpse at these people, who arguably must be some of the most glamorous folks around (they are, after all, the tastemakers of the world), is mesmerizing in itself. It’s oddly reassuring to see them squirm to avoid Wintour’s wrath. Vogue editors are insecure too? Who knew?

The beginning scenes establish Wintour’s power in the fashion business — just in case, you know, anyone with a remote interest in style wasn’t already aware of this. One interviewee is asked if there’s any aspect of the fashion industry on which Wintour doesn’t have influence. He pauses for a moment, searching for a small glitch in the system that’s out of the reach of her manicured palm. In the end, his answer is simple: “No.”

Even viewers without an invested interest in the industry should have a subliminal understanding of Wintour’s character. Her rumored editrix nature is, after all, the alleged basis for Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Those looking for a similarly plot-driven gossip fest, however, should look elsewhere.

“The September Issue” is more documentary than chick flick. It reveals a glimpse at the hard-edged business side of fashion that so often gets pushed aside in favor of a portrayal emphasizing parties and glamour.

Wintour’s daughter, Bee, describes fashion as “a weird industry,” insisting that she’d rather “go to law school” than follow in her mother’s footsteps. It’s astounding to think someone would pass up such easy access to that impenetrable world, but as the film shows, fashion isn’t for the faint of heart. And for those who are hankering to score a job in the industry, it’s comforting to know there’s one less person with connections vying for the same position.

While the film certainly accentuates the toils and stresses of the industry, Andre Leon Talley, Vogue’s editor-at-large, serves as the film’s much-needed comic relief. Upon Wintour’s demand that he lose weight, he takes on playing tennis, decking himself out with Louis Vuitton and rolling onto the clay court. God bless a man with style.

And if Talley provides the laughs, then flame-haired creative director Grace Coddington provides the soul. The film follows her crafting a series of extraordinarily beautiful photo editorials that Wintour heartbreakingly tosses aside. Seemingly heartless moves like this make it easy to see where Wintour gets her reputation. Behind her platinum bob and oversized shades, though, Wintour isn’t cruel-hearted. She’s a hard worker with impeccable standards. It’s a shame, really, that being so passionate and skilled at what you do means a media-driven perception of soullessness and frigidity.

“The September Issue” is not without its faults. Just as Wintour harshly edits the pages of her beloved magazine, cutting out seemingly perfect photographs and articles, the documentary editors cut too much from this film. The credits roll after a mere 90 minutes, leaving viewers scrambling for more, searching for what sets these people apart from the rest of us mere mortals.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Precious wouldn't even begin to describe.

This diverse little gang of toddlers almost makes me want to have children before I'm 32. All courtesy of Stella McCartney's Gap Kids line. So freakin' adorable. I want that jacket for myself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Calling all hipsters! I need a date!

Open casting call to all hipsters: I’m looking for a date.

I’ve been in this peskily nostalgic mood lately, and I’m thinking that getting back in touch with my childhood will snap me out of the trance, and what better way to revisit my youth than with the recent release of “Where the Wild Things Are?”

Unfortunately, all my friends are either too busy to go to the movies (since when does being a senior imply responsibility and work ethic?), have no interest in seeing “WTWTA” or are waiting until the long queue of hipsters has gone down — and their fellow moviegoers have showered recently. Yes hipsters, it might be time to disprove that unfortunate stereotype.

My friends fail me when it comes to indulging in this film fantasy, as none of them are pretentious hipsters. I’ve burdened myself with genuinely friendly, non-conceited and well-adjusted comrades. No one will go see “Wild Things” with me tonight, which is why I’m desperately seeking a hipster guy to take me to the movies.

Let’s take a second to define this whole hipster paradigm. Because of the negative connotation, it pains me that the word has become synonymous for anyone with a creative fashion sense.

For the record, just because you have good taste in clothing, movies or music, that doesn’t make you a hipster. It’s what you do with this previously aforementioned good taste that classifies you as such. Hipsters use their pop-culture knowledge for evil rather than good, sniping at anyone not as knowledgeable as them.

Before all you Pitchfork-loving kids start scribbling angry hate mail, let me say this: I feel for you. I like being ahead of the curve as much as the next asymmetrically hair-styled kid. And I genuinely appreciate your style. I’m the first to champion unique fashion statements. I actually harbor a secret desire for the ability to pull off tortoiseshell reading glasses more than just about anything — I just don’t have the right face shape.

I’ve been trying to find a fluorescent pair of Nike Dunks for months now, but every time I try them on, they simply look ridiculous. I envy you. Don’t go and get your keffiyah in a twist.

I would even go so far as to say I have a mild hipster-esque impetus. There was this one time in first grade when the whole class gathered on the carpet to listen to Miss Adams read us some book about the rainforest. I was devastatingly bored, though, because my mother had already bought me this book. I had already consumed it cover to cover, already laughed at the punch lines and already looked at all the brightly colored pictures of toucans. When the rest of the class would laugh at the boa constrictor protagonist, I rolled my eyes and thought, “For God’s sake, couldn’t we read something a little more cutting edge? What are my parents’ tax dollars going toward, anyways?”

You see? We’d probably get along fine. I’m just saying, it wouldn’t kill you to be a little nicer to me. Indulge me when, say, I haven’t heard of the latest group of whining 20-somethings marketing themselves as the world’s next electro sensation. Wipe that “Oh-my-God-you-haven’t-heard-them” scowl off your face and get over yourself. Didn’t your mother ever tell you your face could freeze if you hold it like that for too long?

So if any hipster boy out there is reading this and needs someone to accompany him to the movies this weekend, look no further. I’m your girl. You’re going to have to leave the fedora at home, though, because it’s obstructive to other theater patrons. Your septum ring and thick-rimmed spectacles? Those are just fine. The tighter your jeans, the better — I’m not big on surprises, anyways. And if you aren’t wearing some neon-colored V-neck or hoodie, you might as well forget about our date. Turn around and high tail it right back to American Apparel.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Clean Up in Aisle 2

Liz Claiborne isn't a brand that comes into my radar all that frequently, but I'm loving this season's ad featuring two of my favorite fashion industry personalities: Coco Rocha and Isaac Mizrahi--who took over designing for the company last Spring and is slowly rescuing it from middle school-teacher-chic.
This may be the most fashionable grocery store line ever.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


So, I've mentioned before that there's really no way I'll ever get a tattoo, (needle-phobia-central, right here) but I'm admittedly smitten with these chain tattoos the Chanel models had to wear at the Spring 2010 show. So cheeky. Love it, Karl.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wishful Thinking

It seems as if all my favorite footwear is falling apart at once.
My Tory Burch flats are literally bursting at the seams, poor souls (soles? ha...), and I'm not quite sure what to do about it. Has this ever happened to anyone else? Is it repairable?

Meanwhile, my over-the-knee faux leather boots are disintegrating around the toe. The "leather" is flaking off bit by bit and I'm quite distraught.

So, I figure now is as good a time as any to start considering some replacements:

Pay day, please come soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Fall Break getaway inspires fashion choices

You know those weeks when absolutely everything goes wrong? Rejection, failure and overall suckdom set in at once, and you’re left feeling existentially depleted?

It’s an unspoken rule that when life goes poorly, the best remedy comes from advice in the form of metaphors and clichés.

“When it rains, it pours,” my mother said to me the other day when I was in the middle of a particularly brutal series of blows to my ego. “Don’t move off your course just because a bird crapped on your windshield.”

As encouraging as my mother’s fecal words of wisdom were, I needed an escape.

Luckily, fall break couldn’t have come at a better time, so I jumped on a train to New York. There are a few things in life that never fail to put me in a good mood. They are as follows:

1. Reading magazines — My nine-hour train ride left plenty of time for me to get reacquainted with the growing stack of glossies I’ve neglected for weeks.

2. Good friends — I’m fortunate enough to have two best friends in New York, both of whom encourage me to live nights full of good decisions before crashing in their apartments.

3. Retail therapy — When life gives you lemons, I say shove them in the fridge, grab your purse and go shopping.

4. New York — there’s nothing quite as inspiring as the pace and culture of one of the world’s best cities, especially in the fashion sense.

This past weekend, I got to indulge in all of the above. It was absolute bliss.

Just as New York can revive a broken spirit, certain articles of clothing can revive a broken outfit.

Each season, I try to find one or two pieces on which I rely to increase my cool factor.

Last year, I fostered a rather ridiculous passion for leather. I bought a leather jacket, leather leggings and over-the-knee leather boots.

I swear I’m not some kind of bondage freak. I just like to pretend I’m edgier than I really am. I wore one of my leather treasures almost every day from October through March.

This year, I’m harboring a love affair with anything studded.

Over the summer, I bought a gold studded purse in London for less than $10 — suck on that, exchange rate. Then, I got a pair of black booties with a stud-covered heel.

I’m currently lusting over a pair of studded black leather gloves I discovered at an Upper East Side H&M over the weekend. Unfortunately, I had to pass when I saw the $50 price tag.

But if anyone wants to get a head start on my birthday present — it’s next month — feel free to scoop them up for me. I think they’d be the perfect thing to pull me together, both mentally and fashionably.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Replacement

Little known fact: One of the first things I ever really, truly wanted to be was an interior designer. In middle school, I'd labour over Ikea and Pottery Barn catalogs and plan out my first house with a similar enthusiasm to the way some girls plan out their ideal wedding.

In my opinion, the best interior design magazine ever was Domino. Packed with inspirational photographs, they always had a knack for mixing trendy and classic pieces perfectly. Unfortunately, the publication became another devastating victim of the crumbling print industry.

Which is why the recently launched online publication Lonny will probably be the most exciting discovery for the entire month of October. The magazine was started by former Domino editor Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline. It has a similar aesthetic to Domino and features all the great design and fashion stuff you'd expect from their editors.

It's interesting to see a magazine in this format. Similar to the way Nylon stores their archives and some clothing companies load their catalogs online, Lonny is viewed just like a regular magazine--only it's completely digital. The pages are turnable, but also clickable. See something you like? Click on it and buy away.

Lonny makes me a little less worried about the future of the magazine industry, though I wonder if this format will take off. Will all magazines eventually become entirely digital?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Confessions of a Fashion Columnist

I wouldn’t describe myself as high-maintenance. I wouldn’t say I’m low-maintenance, exactly. I do, in fact, invest an extensive amount of time getting ready in the morning, but that’s mostly because I’m not very talented with a blow dryer. But I’m definitely not high-maintenance in a straighten-my-hair-daily or wear-lip liner-before-I’m-30 kind of way.

Just in case you’re under the impression that I’m one of those girls who’s always perfectly assembled, let me dispel your assumptions. I feel it’s time for me to come clean about who I really am — to clean out my sartorial closet. Consider these the confessions of a fashion columnist.

1. I dress myself more frequently from my laundry basket and my bedroom floor than out of my closet. I’ve been known to pull something out, ignore its desperate plea for washing, attempt to smooth out the wrinkles and put it on regardless.

2. The result is that I wear the same thing. All the time. Variety might be the spice of life, but I prefer that my wardrobe be repetitive and full of stand-bys. I’m typically found in some kind of black pant/vest/scarf combo with a few pencil skirts and racerback tanks thrown in. But damn it, I pull them off well.

3. My ultimate secret-life wish? To be stopped by a street style photographer and have my picture taken. Preferably Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist — a must-read website if you’re in search of fashion inspiration.

4. I get unreasonably angry with people who obstruct the view of my reflection in freshly cleaned windows as I walk down the street. I have a near-constant need to double-check that I don’t have anything glaringly wrong with my appearance. I have a friend who once walked from Forbes Hall all the way to the Cathedral with his fly down. I openly wept for him. This is what constitutes my worst fears.

5. I consider showering to be the world’s most burdensome task. I’ll avoid washing my hair for days in favor of dousing my grease-laden roots with baby powder and hair spray, hoping I don’t look like the lazy mess that I really am.

6. My mother would kill me for this since it violates her No.1 fashion commandment but ... I buy cheap shoes, regularly. I have an issue with spending large sums of money all at once, even though I know in the end it’ll be a good investment. My bad habit further perplexes me as I grow increasingly angry with myself when said cheap shoes fall apart after three wears.

7. If you do happen to spot me in something pulled together with more effort than usual, I am most likely either attempting to impress someone or trying to avoid someone. Designer Isaac Mizrahi once said the secret to good style is to always “dress like you have a crush on someone.” I’ve also found that dressing like a slob — in accordance with Murphy’s Law — is a sure-fire way to run into someone you don’t want to see, so I consider fashion an ex-fling repellent. Balk away, but it actually works.

8. I despise shopping with other people. Sure, browsing through the mall with a pal is fun, but when I need to make some wardrobe additions, I have to be by myself. Trust me, it’s for the better. No one needs witness me amid an aggressive hunt for a new winter coat.

I can spend hours digging through stores and walk out with nothing. I have to look at every single thing, circling through the store multiple times. Once to look at and touch everything, again to choose articles that most stick out to me and once more to pile up all the stuff I know I won’t buy but want to try on anyway. I consider it tedious yet necessary work — as I imagine accounting would be (as if I ever would go near such a fashion-less activity.)

9. I’m quite the style schizophrenic. My closet is equal parts Lilly Pulitzer-preppy (there’s a big sample sale near my house every year. Something about scoring a ridiculous pink-printed sundress 70 percent off really speaks to me) and depressingly monochromatic. Yet, I have a tendency to wear all black, head to toe, when I can’t think of anything more creative.

10. I spend ridiculously long periods of time staring blankly into my closet. Getting dressed for nights out is especially difficult. I’ve been known to not pull myself together until 11:30 p.m., when my roommates are angrily yanking me out the door while I am racing to smudge NARS eyeshadow onto my lids.

Yes, I care a lot about the fashion industry — probably too much at times. No, I don’t schlep around in sweatpants. But at the beginning of the day, I have just as hard a time getting dressed as anyone else.

Well, I certainly feel better. I have been waiting to air out the fashion skeletons in my closet since the last time I did laundry. And on that note ...