Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Young fashion blogger incites curiousity, envy

My envious tendencies have reached an all-time low. I’m jealous of a 13-year-old.

There’s a tween lurking somewhere around the Chicago suburbs who is being invited to fashion shows left and right. What gives, people? Where are all my Fashion Week invites?

Tavi Gevinson started her fashion blog Style Rookie at the age of 11. She posts pictures of her quirky outfits and sounds off on the season’s trends and pop culture. Since then, she’s managed to pick up all sorts of fame. Fashion editors and designers are digging her enough to give her a column in this month’s issue of Bazaar.

Do you realize the kind of rampant insecurity a 13-year-old fashion columnist triggers in a 22-year-old fashion columnist? Let me tell you, it’s not pretty. The girl is cute and all, but quite frankly she drives me crazy — mostly because when I was that age the closest I was getting to the fashion industry was shopping for Abercrombie jeans at the King of Prussia Mall and feeling really cool about it.

Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers behind Rodarte, had Tavi create a video of their recent collaboration line for Target. I barely even know how to turn a video camera on.

Reactions to Tavi’s exponentially rising recognition are mixed. On the one hand, we have all these designers and magazines who are scrambling to get a piece of her. On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of scandal about whether she is actually writing all these blog entries herself. Elle fashion director Anne Slowey told New York Magazine that she was a little skeptical.

“You look at her [Rodarte] video, and the writing doesn’t sync up with the way she talks about fashion,” Slowey said. “When I watched that video it smacked of this ethereal vagueness ... I’m not trying to take anything away from her — her love of fashion, her love of style. She’s either a tween savant or she’s got a Tavi team.”

Thanks for that, Slowey. It’s a relief to know that not everyone is so enthralled with this little girl that I would have to give up my dreams of working in fashion just because I’m already in my 20s.

Honestly, I don’t think the question, “Is this all really being done by a 13-year-old?” is even the point. It doesn’t make that much of a difference to me whether this is her writing or her great-grandmother’s or her neighbor’s. Though for the record, I actually do think she’s the author. Who the hell would give up the opportunity for that level of popularity for a tween? I’m not convinced it would be her mother, either, because I don’t think she would really be that into talking about dying her daughter’s hair blue.

Don’t you remember being 13? We all had a near-obsessive wish for everyone to realize that 13-year-olds knew a lot more about life than everybody thought. Why is it that the second we get older, we automatically assume that anyone younger is some kind of na├»ve being, completely incapable of understanding anything about the world?

At the end of the day, Tavi does still sound like she’s 13. I don’t think the skill level is really what’s admirable here — it’s the confidence that she’s actually willing to broadcast all this. I don’t know about you, but anything I wrote when I was in middle school is still locked away in a trunk somewhere. Not to mention that I was terrified to wear anything nearly as daring as a leather trench coat like Tavi does.

A lot of folks are worried about this chick being exposed to the horrors of the fashion industry at such an early age, but let’s face it people, there’s nothing more horrific than the halls of middle school. Sitting in the front row at Paris Couture Fashion Week sounds like a walk in the park compared to surviving teendom in the suburbs. In actuality, I think the fashion industry is the safest place for her. They are far more likely to be accepting of her creativity than cut-throat middle schoolers looking for attention.

In the past few years, the fashion blog world has become a roaring presence. Bloggers have become credible news outlets and sources of inspiration. American Apparel regularly hires personal style bloggers as models. Lucky Magazine invites bloggers to be guest writers on their website. It makes sense, really, that blogs have become so reliable. The industry is based on two things: creative personal preferences and fast-paced revolutions. There is no better way to keep up with the speed and quirks of fashion than with blogs.

I can’t decide whether Tavi is a trend — independent fashion blogs tend to have a pretty short shelf life — or if this tween is actually the next Anna Wintour. Surely this must be what editors-in-chief were like at that age, no? If Tavi isn’t capable of taking the Vogue throne, who is?

Now I know I’m not as endearing as a teenager, but Marc Jacobs, if you ever decide to make a line for Target (really, please do) and you need someone to make a video for you, I’d be happy to put aside my homework and help you out. Call me!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This is completely great.

I read about Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Casey Perez in this month's issue of Nylon, and now I'm completely obsessed with her stuff. These rings are totally fantastic and I want both. Nothing speaks to me more than witty jewelry, and Casey hit one out of the park with these rings.
Must have.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Across the pond, style comes naturally

I spent most of last summer studying abroad in London. While plans to move back seem to be growing more difficult by the day, (thank you, economic downturn, feel free to end anytime now), I flip through my pictures on a weekly basis and dream of having unlimited access to Topshop and Portobello Market.

Though it’s been months since I arrived back, I am left contemplating the differences between American and European fashion sense. I’m not going to turn this into some big anti-American rant because really, we’re not that bad, but you have to hand it to those kids overseas — they sure know how to pull themselves together in the morning.

Aside from possessing the ability to eat normal portions of food, Europeans have a knack for throwing on outfits in a way that simultaneously screams effortless and spot-on trend.

When I was in London, I felt decently comfortable with my style. Brits are pretty quirky, so it was OK to look somewhat intentionally mismatched — which is a great thing when one suitcase of clothes needs to last a month and a half.

In Paris, however, I constantly felt intimidated by the people surrounding me. Practicality is thrown out the window. The sight of a woman zooming around on a moped in 5-inch heels never failed to flabbergast me. I mean, my God — I refuse to even wear heels to walk from my apartment on Dawson Street up to Hemingway’s!

Sure, not everyone in Europe is running around in some straight-off-the-runway couture gown, but for the most part everyone is at least dressed. You don’t see people — not even the teenagers — loafing around in sweats. They’re in clothes that are well-made and tailored to perfection.

Here in America, it’s no secret that we’re a little late in the game when it comes to fashion trends. We scramble to get into trends four years after they make a European debut. We’ll buy whichever iteration we can get the cheapest, sacrificing fit and quality in a desperate attempt to appear “in-the-know.”

In America, we feel guilty about everything — possibly a lasting complex over that whole stomping-in-and-taking-the-Native-Americans’-land thing. We feel guilty about getting what we want. We feel like if something brings us pleasure, we shouldn’t have it. We feel guilty about free time, as if having a few hours to ourselves each day is something to be embarrassed about, like it must mean we don’t work hard enough.

We feel guilty about wearing the same outfit three times in the same month. The French, on the other hand, will buy one solid outfit a season and wear it to shreds. The quality is impeccable, of course. Sometimes I think it would be nice to feel satisfied by buying one designer outfit a season, rather than spending money left and right to always feel “updated”.

Perfection, too, seems to be an American preoccupation. After all, does the poster child of Europe have enough plastic surgery to make Joan Rivers jealous? No, not at all. Los Angeles, a land of nose jobs and breast implants, has no foreign counterpart.

Instead, the beauty regimens of Europeans focus far more on natural beauty. They eat and drink to take care of their skin. They can run out to the farmer’s market to pick up their evening’s produce without a hint of makeup on and their hair in a lopsided knot. Yet you can bet they’ll look way better than shellacked Americans making their way to the grocery store to buy over-processed food in overpriced outfits.

While I think we could all benefit from a hefty dose of European nonchalance, I’m still a big fan of America. I have a tremendous deal of pride in a country that gave birth to Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to Sweden. To the masterminded country behind H & M: If it weren’t for you, my closet would probably be empty.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My obsession with Breton stripes is getting a little out of control.

At this rate, by the time spring finally rolls around I'll be completely sick of the nautical trend. In the mean time, I'm embracing it full force. I like it best when paired with a silk scarf knotted around the neck and a stack of thick bronze bangles.

Clockwise from top center: long sleeve shirt from H & M, dress with pocket from H & M, long sleeve tunic Rodarte for Target, tunic sweater from H & M

Monday, January 18, 2010


My fur stole was stoled.

Well, actually I just left it somewhere. But I'm really upset about it despite it only being $8 at H & M.

Luckily, I found this vintage replacement on eBay and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dreaming of sunshine and warm weather

It's been mysteriously temperate here in Pittsburgh this weekend. Though I know the harsh, blustery cold will inevitably return far too soon, I can't help but want this super cute pair of Fendi aviators. Preferably the tortoiseshell ones, of course. I love the subtle reference to their signature B buckle.
Let's call it wishful thinking -- maybe if I get them it won't snow or go below 30 degrees anymore!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Never let style become routine

This is how my day starts:

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off.

8:15 a.m. — Second alarm goes off.

8:30 a.m. — Third alarm goes off. If it’s a bad day, I’ll turn it off, roll back over and not wake up until 10 a.m. If it’s a good day, this is the point at which I angrily make my way upstairs to make breakfast and get ready.

8:35 to 8:50 a.m. — Curl lashes, apply eye shadow, eyeliner, other eye shadow, mascara, primer, foundation, bronzer. Curse being pale.

9 a.m. — Stare blankly into closet and reaffirm my suspicion that I have absolutely nothing to wear.

9:15 a.m. — Still staring blankly. Check weather on two different websites. Believe the one that is most detrimental to my hair and footwear. This often leads to walking around in rain boots and carrying an oversized umbrella on perfectly sunny days.

9:30 a.m. — Now in a rush,I throw on some variation of what I wore the day before: tunic, leggings, cardigan, belt, boots, scarf, coat, bangles. Done.

9:45 a.m. — Make my way out the door. Fumble with lock.

10 a.m. — If it’s Monday or Tuesday, I roll into Caribou, get a small coffee with room for cream and find a table near an outlet.

10:05 a.m. — I work on this very column or whatever other writing assignment needs finishing. My writer’s mind expires around noon — by then it’s too busy thinking about other things, like my next source of caffeine and whether I’ll have time to finish reading that book for Lit.

10:30 a.m. — Distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Gchat and hilariously titled New York Magazine articles.

10:50 a.m. — Resume writing.

Noon — Finish assignments, pack up and head out for the rest of my day.
On the surface, this is all fine and good. I live a happy life with a minimal amount of struggle. But as I’ve said before, I grow bored very easily.

Sure, now that it’s the beginning of a fresh semester, this little routine seems great. Getting up at 8 a.m.? Charming! The lackadaisical luxury of winter break was getting to me anyways. Sleeping ’til noon? What a waste!

After just a few weeks or months of monotony, however, I’ll hit a brick wall and approach my day-to-day routine with the same level of irritability as an overextended toddler in need of a juice box and a nap. By the time I get used to writing “2010” at the top of my papers rather than “2009,” I’ll be ready to make some changes.

It’s at times like these — the life and wardrobe ruts — that I need to focus on the finer things, like friends and running and changing the background on my computer screen. And shopping.

Every season I make a long list — too long a list — of everything I want to buy. I’ll only buy things that are on the list (no need to waste money on items I’m not dying for) and shop around until I determine the cheapest place I can get it.

This year some of the things on my list include: a denim shirt, vintage slips, thigh-high socks, a long tweed or white blazer, new grey jeans and a tie-dye scarf. I pick up one of the items whenever I need to spruce up my wardrobe.

We all have our routines that make us feel comfortable. We go to the same places, talk to the same people and wear the same things. But at what point does a routine become a rut? I suppose it’s when those aforementioned habits lose their novelty and fail to bring us the same pleasure they did originally.

Currently I’m trying to pull myself out of my morbidly black monotonic tendencies. I used to think my head-to-toe black ensembles made me look like a chic New Yorker, but now I’m thinking they just make me look lazy. I’ve also recently phased vests out of my wardrobe. I used to wear them at least once a week, but now they don’t seem to add as much to my outfits as they once did.

But here’s the thing — routines are addictive. They’re hard to break. Twenty dollars says if you spot me on campus today, I’ll be wearing all black and a vest.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Facehunter does paper

The next book to add to my ever-expanding stack of art/fashion/photography tomes? The Facehunter.
That's right, my friends-- street style blogger Yvan Rodic is coming out with a book on January 23rd! The best part? It's not super humongous like most art books, so you can even read it in bed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fashion commandments for a dreary January

Welcome back, old friends. I hope you managed to get your annual fill of holiday cheer and fireplace warmth while you were home, because let me tell you a little something about January in Pittsburgh. It is, in a word, miserable. The roads are constantly covered in slush, no one seems to find it necessary to shovel sidewalks, and salt will become caked onto every pair of shoes you own. Wind will whip right through whatever outerwear you deemed appropriate for the season, and on the days you do manage to actually leave your dorm or apartment, you’ll be sorry you did. While I don’t suggest that you skip all your classes until April — for some reason the administration wouldn’t be too keen about that — I do want to warn you that layers are key for survival.

How are you supposed to keep up your sense of exuberance during these tumultuous, blustery times, you ask? Well, I took winter break as an opportunity to be as academically unconstructive as possible, passing up reading and critical thinking in favor of stimulating the economy with my debit card and sprucing up my wardrobe. Works like a charm, trust me.

I also gave some thought to my New Year’s resolutions. Since those never seem to last past January anyway, I have made all my resolutions’ goals for surviving the first wretched month of the year without slipping into a deep, Seasonal Affective Disorder-induced coma. I present to you, my five January Fashion Commandments:

1. Thou shalt revise diet and exercise routine: Like everyone in the history of resolutions, getting back in shape tops the list. It’s been proven that aerobic exercise can ward off bad moods, so in addition to your spring clothes fitting a little better, you’ll be happy as a clam.

2. Thou shalt focus on the positive: In trying times, it’s best to keep your mind on the better aspects of life. In my case, rather than aggressively cursing winter every time I walk out my front door, I’ll rejoice that I can throw on as many layers as I want without feeling ridiculous. Knee-length parka? Leather gloves? Over-the-knee boots? Hello, my winter-wear friends — we’re going to have a vibrant elationship for the next 12 weeks.

3. Thou shalt add a bit of color: No surprise that a city once famous for steel takes on a morbidly grey hue during the winter months. Just about everything seems to turn the color of smoke. I have a bad habit of wearing all black all the time. It’s depressing, really. So this year, I’m forcing myself to mix it up. I’m going wild with white, grey and tan.

4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s clothes: I have a tendency to see a person wearing something I love and immediately seethe with jealousy. I become dissatisfied with everything I’m wearing and wish that I had on a better outfit. But not this year. I’m determined to be happy with what I have. This year I will keep my envy to a minimum no matter what perfectly dressed fashionista crosses my path.

5. Thou shalt expose thyself to sunlight: The most obvious trigger of seasonal depression is the reduced exposure to sunlight. Not only are the days shorter, but it’s also brutal to even think about leaving the house. I prefer to hunker down indoors and spend hours looking through interactive street style websites like Chictopia and to get outfit ideas when I do finally venture outdoors. This year, I will kick my click-happy habit to the curb and make an effort to spend time outside on sunny days — perhaps only to take pictures that I can upload to the aforementioned sites.

And so kicks off 2010, the year I will unfortunately graduate from college and move on to the real world. That’s a depressing thought in itself, so in the meantime I’ll be focusing on my commandments and living a jovial winter. Here’s to a good year, kids.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I think 7.69% like Oscar de la Renta.

In honor of having one day left of spare time, I took Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire. You answer 20 questions, then they tell you which celebrities you answer similarly too. I don't really get how that part works.

According to their meticulous calculations, I'm most similar to Dustin Hoffman. Which, you know, is pretty awesome since The Graduate is probably my most favorite movie of all time.

Also on my list of celebrity matches are Joan Didion and Margaret Atwood. Sharing anything in common with those two is pretty sweet since my life goal is to be either of them.

Anyways, in case you were wondering what my answers were, here they are:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Irreverance
2. What is your greatest fear? Irrelevance
3. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Does Isabel Briggs Myers count as a historical figure?
4. Which living person do you most admire? Kate Winslet, for saying this: "I wouldn't dream of working on anything that didn't make my gut grumble or my heart want to explode."
5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Extreme moodiness.
6. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unfaithfulness to their true self
7. What is your greatest extravagance? Clothing
8. On what occasion do you lie? To protect someone I care about.
9. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Broad shoulders
10. When and where were you happiest? Any and every deep conversation with someone interesting.
11. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? To be less sensitive to criticism.
12. If you could change one thing about your family what would it be? For each of us to feel more compelled to be our best selves around one another.
13. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses.
14. If you died and came back as a person or thing what do you think it would be? Karl Lagerfeld's muse.
15. What is your most treasured possession? Laptop + notebooks
16. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The feeling of being uninspired about life.
17. Who are your heroes in real life? Unapologetically creative free spirits
18. What is it that you most dislike? Expectations
19. How would you like to die? Old and happy, with the feeling that I accomplished everything I wanted to.
20. What is your motto? Confidence is the acknowledgment and subsequent willingness to admit that you're the same as everybody else. The second you start thinking you're different, that's when you run into trouble.

You can take the quiz for yourself here. Share your answers with me! I want to hear them!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Good News/Bad News

The Bad News: I spilled super glue all over my hand. Like, a ton. I felt like I was peeling away my fingerprints, but its finally all gone.

The Good News: Miraculously, despite dousing my hand in nail polish remover to get the glue off, I didn't ruin my manicure! So cute and cheery for winter, no?
Chanel Orange Fizz--my mamacita got it for me for Christmas.

The Even Better News: Upon surviving the little glue situation, I successfully spruced up a pair of old boots. I glued studs to strips of leather I cut from my old pair of over-the-knee boots, then sewed them around the ankles of a pair of suede boots I haven't worn in forever. Total cost? $5. Unbeatable, considering all the studded boots I wanted were waaaay more than that.