Sunday, March 1, 2015

Timeless. As you are.

Timeless. As you are.

That tagline sits atop an ad in the March W magazine. The designer was unfamiliar. The dress was lovely, wearable by a woman of any age— something you don't often see in W.

FYI, W is the brainchild of the (very recently) late John Fairchild. In 1960 he took his family's stodgy industry newspaper, Women's Wear Daily, and turned it into a pithy and gossipy report on the fashionable as well as the business of fashion. In 1999 he founded W as a monthly magazine to rival Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. W has always been a little different than those two. One thing— its size. It's oversized, not easy to carry around or read on an exercise bike (where I was at the time). Its take on fashion is somewhat elitist, especially in the editorial well. Fun to look at though while working out.

That's why Amelia Toro's ad came as a surprise. Such a pretty dress and such a powerful thought. Who is this person?

Amelia Toro

Turns out Amelia Toro is a Colombian-born, New York-raised designer who has been in business since 1990. Her clothes do appear timeless— not over-the-top trendy or saccharine-sweet feminine. She has a boutique in NYC's Chelsea. Clothing is made in her hometown of Bogota in a unique manner. Rather than being pieced on an assembly line, each garment is handmade by a single seamstress and bears her name along with Amelia's on the label. This is an admirable and bold move "for social opportunity and empowerment for Latin American women".

We have been working with single parents for more than 20 years. We believe in the transformation of the industry through the manufacturing of the complete garment by a single seamstress or tailor. This way, each person feels the satisfaction, accomplishment and pride in being part of a creative force. We teach them to produce a single garment from start to finish so if they leave the company, they have a skill that will help them support themselves. Each garment is signed by the person who constructed it. In a country with hundreds of displaced families, we are their second family, providing them with a sense of belonging.— Amelia Toro

A pretty dress
More pretty dresses

All this does not come cheap to the consumer. Apparel ranges from $495 to $2,000. Sadly I won't be doing more than tipping my hat and sending her a "right on".

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Give Confidence, Hope and Style with Talbot's

Funny how things happen just when they should. I've been volunteering at Dress for Success for about six months now. Volunteering at anything is worthwhile and rewarding, but I've been having such a good time I wanted to share the experience.

Unfortunately I don't think or write that fast. While my post is "in the works" along comes word that Talbot's, the women's specialty store with 425 locations in the United States and Canada, is spotlighting Dress for Success from February 23 - March 22.

If you received a catalog in the recent mail, you'll find a coupon for 25% off your purchase until March 8, an invite to a Spring Style Shopping Party on March 7, a request to donate nearly new wear-to-work items March 5 -8 or to make a monetary gift to Dress for Success through March 22. There is also a Q & A with the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide and an inspiring interview with a Dress for Success client.

Don't just take my word for it, this is a wonderful organization. Meanwhile you might divest yourself of some unloved apparel and take the opportunity to join Talbot's in helping to inspire and empower women.

Notice how INSPIRING and SPRING just seem to go together?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Can't Hear You

Dana Perry's ball gown, left

Date: Sunday evening 
Location: Family room 
Players: Two male family members and me
Scenario: Oscars telecast 

When these two women took the stage to accept the Academy Award for documentary short subject, all we could do was talk about that dress. From remarks like, "the cats would really love it" to my wondering out loud why anyone would choose it.

The dress was worn by Dana Perry who accepted with her producing partner Ellen Goosenberg Kent for "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1". Their film was about suicide hotlines, and in her speech Ms. Perry dedicated the award to her son Evan, saying, "We lost him to suicide. We should talk about suicide out loud. This is for him. Thank you."

I never heard that because we were all so busy tearing apart her dress. The New York Times reported on the incident because just then the orchestra "played the duo offstage". They had taken too long. The Times didn't mention the dress, but that's why we didn't hear her.

Like a few others' heartfelt moments, which included Alzheimer's awareness, salary equity for women, self-esteem issues and "call your mother", Ms. Perry spoke from the heart and wanted us to listen.

We certainly heard what host Neil Patrick Harris had to say right after. "It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that". Less said about the taste of that remark the better, but two of us were probably thinking that as well.

By all accounts Ms. Perry did take the joke in stride, saying she invited anyone to "feel my furry balls", which were really a shawl found in a family member's attic.

Which brings me to this: If your dress is doing all the talking, no one can hear what you have to say.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Closet Cleaning on a Very Small Scale

"The Dolls" by Edward Bawdens

It's too early for genuine closet cleaning of the switch-it-to-spring variety. But one closet needed cleaning for a very long time. That's the trunk holding all my doll clothes and paraphernalia— shoes, hats, bits of lace and fabric, even some tiny green metal hangers. I have all the dolls, in another box. The dolls are wearing clothes, but the rest of their wardrobes were jammed into this trunk. There they have remained, since the last time I played with dolls in 1952.

I've been meaning to straighten out that mess for years. Perhaps if I had a daughter or nieces I would have, but only boys in this family. No grandaughter yet either, but time marches on and that trunk was still a mess.


So I decided, on a rainy Saturday, to start ironing. First of all, it sure would be nice to have a teeny tiny iron. Those doll clothes' nooks and crannies were hard to get into with my jumbo steam-a-matic. I recall, once upon a time, having a toy iron that worked. It must have been handed down from my older sister because the fabric cord was quite shredded and just looked dangerous. It had one temperature: hot.  Imagine giving that to a child to "play" with today. No doubt I learned early on to watch my fingers.

It was amazing how well I remembered so many of those little garments! Some were favorites and some I didn't like to put on the dolls even then. I found the dress my mother lovingly made with her usual precision. I also have the $4.95 doll dress I bought at F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City with all I had saved for the trip. This one held up the best and still looks lovely. Something about buying quality, yes?

$45.00 in today's money

There is a bridal gown (had forgotten about that), a Brownie uniform and a Red Cross nurse's dress. The bride may have worn her dress down the aisle once, the Brownie did not attend many meetings, and the nurse soon became "Tina the Stewardess".

By far the most contemporary and fashionable clothes belonged to my Ginny doll. Ginny was a product of the Vogue doll company and was smaller than any other dolls. Wildly popular at the time, she was a precursor to Barbie, who is even smaller. She was also my last ditch as a doll player and the only one I treated like the juvenile she was. Perhaps at age nine I was becoming maternal?

And they were all
named Ginny

Sometimes it felt like I was ironing miniature versions of my own clothes— flowered pants, a striped robe, a peasant blouse, a dirndl skirt. Others were things I would like to own, including two adorable jumpsuits. There are four straw hats. I still love to collect straw hats! Is it possible our tastes are formed as early as the playroom?

As I finished what turned into a monumental task, I thought of those many hours of doll playing. I don't remember scenarios, but there was much changing of clothes. I recently read that childhood is when we are freest to imagine and dream and pretend. As I still do a lot of that, I would like to think I'm still a child, in a good way.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Dolman Dances the Night Away

Love, Liza

Remember when you'd never heard of a peplum? Now you are sick of them. Even if you loved the peplum, it's probably lost its pep. Make way for the dolman, as in dolman sleeve. This seems to be, by careful observation, The Next Big Thing. Madame is willing to go out on a limb for this.

A dolman sleeve is that very loose armhole, not connected at the shoulder if connected anywhere at all. This makes for a loose-fitting, drape-y top-half silhouette, depending how much of you is drapable.

The dolman flatters both the narrow-shouldered and/or flat-chested. Likewise it de-mphasizes broad shoulders and can flatter a large bust (hint— the garment needs to taper towards the hem for that to happen).

The dolman is an integral part of Greek-style toga dressing. It requires little in construction skills; the effect is in the cut. And I do like a nice toga-style summer dress with strappy sandals. Lately I've been seeing more "basic summer t's" with dolman sleeves, as well as a raft of dresses and cover-ups. NB The kimono is a cousin of the dolman but not a twin.

The Segment dolman tee—
  Anthropologie, $58

Dolman got its name from the Turkish for robe (dolaman). Although the short, braided military jacket wore by Hussars is also called a dolman, the popular reference is a wide, batwing sleeve. The armhole can be very low or almost nonexistent. The dolman was a popular feature in bias-cut looks from the '30s, appeared again in the early '50s but is forever linked with disco and Halston.

'30s chic
Madame, when she was mademoiselle,
sporting a dolman, 1952
'70s Halston chic

I hear that the '70s are back in home furnishings as well, although I've never heard of a dolman couch.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fashion Week Again?

This pelt's for you

What you see are the sounds of me, hibernating. Although we haven't been cursed with the rest of the country's lousy weather, I am as sick of winter as anyone. The last—let me repeat, last— thing I am excited about is what to wear Fall/Winter 2015.

This post has no sneak previews of the latest mukluks or galoshes, fur-lined parkas or quilted tunic vests. If past F/W Fashion Weeks are any indication there will be plenty of "winter sandals" and maybe some velvet crop tops. They should concentrate on solar-powered outerwear and self-adjusting inner wear (always 98.6).

The whole idea of Fashion Week began with the practical. Manufacturers need to get an idea what might excite buyers so they can order fabric, cut, sew, finish and ship garments by mid-August. It was never such an organized event until 1993 when designers began to schedules their shows in tents in Bryant Park. Buyers and the fashion press could then see as many as possible without conflicts or getting stuck in traffic jams. The shows soon became spectacles and by now are pretty much a worldwide industry in themselves.

Okay, maybe I'll take a peek at what some of my favorite designers have up their sleeves, but I won't look up those sleeves long. Too cold.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Vest Harry Houdini Would Love

This little story will prove— yet again— that life is a great and wonderful mystery.

Back around November, when things were cooling off enough down here to look at winter clothes without breaking into a sweat, I spied a burgundy faux fur vest at my neighborhood branch of that bastion of all things discounted, Marshall's.

While not a fan of faux fur (try saying that five times fast) or without much vested interest in vests (but I do like burgundy), I picked it off the rack. It was size L. I fall into XS or S territory. Nevertheless, I tried it on while standing there in the aisle. It was a very small large because it did fit. A tunic, not a weskit, but it fit.

It was $19.99, less than lunch at Neiman Marcus, and I put it back. Because... read second paragraph again.

Nevertheless that vest haunted me. I went back to Marshall's the next day, but it was gone. I scoured the racks and wandered around to see if it had been dropped off (or hidden) in another area. No luck. Stubbornly I kept checking back for that vest over the next few weeks, but it was still gone. Finally I let it go, muttering "may that be a lesson to you".

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, a possible three months later. This time I am in TJ Maxx (which happens to be a few doors down from Marshall's), eyeing the new summer clothes. On the "Small" rack of t-shirts and tank tops what do I find but that same faux fur burgundy vest, still $19.99, only this time it is in TJ Maxx. Of course I buy it, assuming it must be a size small, and arrive home basking in Successful Shopper's Afterglow.

I gently ease that vest out of its non-biodegradable plastic housing (okay I rip it out of the bag) and see that, yes indeed, what I have bought is the burgundy faux fur vest in size Large.

Is the vest suddenly in a different store? And, yes, I do know that TJ Maxx and Marshall's have the same parents. Why was it on the Small rack? And why now, when winter clothes have been shunted off to the sale corner? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

Y is a crooked letter and life is very strange indeed.

The investment

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Gal Who Got it Right

The other day at the Lovely Boutique Where I Work, I checked out a charming young woman in her mid 20s. She was excited about her purchase (as we all should be when buying something new*).

She remarked, as she handed it over to ring up, "I love this! Some days I feel Bohemian, you know, and some days I feel Audrey Hepburn."

"How do you decide how you feel each day?", I asked, really interested.

"Well, if my hair is frizzy, I'm Bohemian. If it's nice and sleek I can be Audrey".

She had a beautiful head of shiny, dark hair that in Houston weather can probably turn frizzy (aka curly) overnight.

What a smart cookie! She has learned early on that we are more than one persona, even as we go through life trying to hone our style to a single coherent equation. And sometimes who we are is not determined by mere whim. We have social obligations, financial constraints, time limits and unruly hair.

Sure, every day is not Halloween, but occasionally we have to try on a new look. The faster you get rid of what doesn't work, the smarter you are becoming.

Becoming and becoming... now that is one word with two entirely different meanings...

This is about as close as Audrey may have gotten to Bohemian, but I bet she felt that way some days too:

* If you're not excited think twice, three, four times before you get to the cash wrap.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Careful Pruning is Key to Preparing for Spring"

Secondhand Rose?

I thought "fashion" before realizing this headline in the local paper was on the gardening column. Reading further, "Gardeners begin dismantling the winter look in February to make way for spring growth", I thought yes, indeed, I am ready to dismantle winter and make way for spring.

"It's pruning time, so sharpen and clean your clippers. Wear gloves to protect your hands and forearms." It's almost time for spring merchandise to appear in the stores, so sharpen your knowledge of the new trends, what worked for you last year, what didn't and what you need. Wear blinders so as not be distracted by end-of-season sales.

"If you're a risk taker and no freeze is in the forecast, plant tomatoes". If you're a risk taker snap up the early spring offering that sets your heart a-flutter. You may not be able to wear it right away, but you won't regret the possibility of losing it either.

"Plant shade and ornamental trees and shrubs to add structure to your garden". Your basic go-to pieces may need refreshing— pants, t-shirts, button-downs, cardigans, etc. They are the bones of your wardrobe.

"Pull winter weeds before they get out of control". I'll bet your closet holds a few unworn, unloved items you could weed out. And did you know that Old English for "garment" was "waed"? Enough said.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Empress Eugenie and the Life-Size Doll

Victoria, Princess Royal, 1855

This is why I love history. Always have. While into a corker of a good read about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, "We Two" by Gillian Gill, I came across this lovely tidbit.

Despite the fact that France had been England's sworn enemy for eons, Queen Victoria was advised to make nice in 1855 with Napoleon Bonaparte III, a nephew of the first Napoleon who in 1853 had declared himself Emperor of France and was ruling with his beautiful wife, Eugenie. Victoria invited the couple to England for a state visit. They were treated royally. Queen Victoria was reportedly charmed by the charismatic couple. She and Eugenie remained friends till the end of Victoria's life. Fifteen-year-old Vicky, Princess Royal, was smitten by the beautiful Eugenie, and the two became friends as well.

Empress Eugenie, 1858

Empress Eugenie was the Jacqueline Kennedy of her day. That's how far reaching and important was her influence. Paris was the undisputed capital of fashion, and Eugenie was on top of the capitol. A Spanish royal, Eugenie had managed to fend off Bonaparte's legendary charms so the only way he could win her was to wed her.

Eugenie sympathized with Princess Vicky's plight that she had no stylish clothes to wear. Even then Britain had a solid reputation for stodgy and the Queen herself had questionable taste in fashion. Before the visit ended, Eugenie had Vicky's measurements taken for a "life-size doll" to be made. Eugenie then sent it from France with a wardrobe of Paris fashions for "the doll" to wear. And Princess Victoria had a lovely wardrobe of the latest styles without ruffling any royal feathers.

Lest you think all this history is just ancient, Eugenie lived until 1920, dying at age 94. Dowager Countess Violet of Downton Abbey might even have known her.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life's Lost Little Luxuries #8: The Housedress

Salesman's samples, not doll clothes

What? Consider something purposefully worn to clean the house a luxury? Think about it. Do you spend your hard-earned fashion dollars on a dress in which to dust? You might have an apron or two, if you're particularly strenuous in the kitchen and/or bake a lot. When was the last time you saw a housedress for sale? Even maids in the rich part of my town wear "business casual".

Wrap predating Diane von Furstenberg
 by about 40 years

My mother wore a house dress every day until she took up stenography and went back to work. I never remember her leaving home in one. A trip to the grocery store was considered an outing and one dressed accordingly. Her housedresses were very tailored, like she was. Light blue shirtdresses that buttoned or snapped down the front with short sleeves and an a-line skirt. Pockets. I can still see her handkerchief in the breast pocket. Her dresses couldn't all have been light blue, but that's what I remember.

And yes, there was a difference between a housedress and a housecoat. A housecoat was what we'd call a bathrobe today sans terry fabric, and it was just as slothful to spend your day in one then as now. A major difference between a housedress and a housecoat would be the length.

Dress left, coat right

My mother meant business too. Taking care of a house was an enormous undertaking in the '50s. Yes, we had a washing machine, but for many years it was a wringer type and the clothesline was outside. My sister and I were the automatic dishwasher (but only for dinner). Meals didn't prepare themselves either. Like anyone wearing a uniform, she was "on duty" and thus did not stop for breaks to check her emails like her house-cleaning daughter in 2015.

I just can't bring myself to wear anything nice to clean house, unless it were a Claire McCardell Popover. The legendary Miss Claire designed her first "popover" in 1942. It could be manufactured cheaply and sold for a reasonable price as it was considered a "utility" garment under WWII clothes rationing. The idea was to "pop" this "over" your work outfit when you got home to whip up dinner. This one sold for $6.95 including rather Neanderthal-like oven mitt.

She carried the idea throughout her career and reached perfection with this little number from 1956.

Top of the pops

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Parsing the Agora

Illustration by Lucinda Rogers

Agoraphobia is a disorder characterized by anxiety in large, crowded environments he or she feels are dangerous or uncomfortable. The word comes from the Greek "agora" meaning "gathering place". So far so good, unless you happen to be an agoraphobe.

I always took "gathering place" to mean "marketplace" as that's my preferred gathering spot. Thus I decided the opposite of agoraphobe must be agoraphile. As a bibliophile loves books, so an agoraphile must love the marketplace?

Not sure why, after years and years of using the word to describe my love of browsing and buying, I looked it up. As it turns out, I am very, very wrong. This is what happens when you love words and think you know all of them.

An agoraphile is a person who experiences sexual excitement from being outdoors.

I hate being outdoors, and this is not that kind of blog.

I don't have the strength or patience to dig into 3+ years of posts and make the necessary corrections. So if you've read somewhere I describe myself as an agoraphile, please know that what I meant to say was I am an agora-adorer.

That just doesn't have the same ring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In the Mood for Fashion

Diana and the mother of all mood boards

I've had mood boards way before they were called that. A collector of ephemera, I enjoy looking at bits and pieces ripped out of magazines or picked up along the way. I started small, with a bulletin board in my bedroom, but it grew. My workspace at art school was pretty awesome, inspiring the director to let me know if I didn't take it all down at graduation there would be consequences. As a graphic designer I managed to eek out a little space to pin up inspiration every place I worked. Once upon a time I had a whole spare bedroom for a studio and corked the walls. My mood boards then rivaled Diana Vreeland's office at Vogue.

Fashion designers have long used mood boards to pull together their collections. Any interior designer worth her salt carries around a portable mood board in the form of a notebook. I know Pinterest is touted as a digital mood board and can be very addictive. I fear that and am not taking the bait.

Nowadays I indulge my love for fashion with mood boards only this time, challenged for space, I use the insides of my closet doors. Thank you, lovely people who renovated this bungalow, for giving us a wall of closets with smooth white doors. And thanks to Scotch Brand for inventing Magic Tape.

A mood board inside my closet

You shouldn't need a tutorial for a mood board. I actually found "24 Pro Tips for Creating Inspirational Mood Boards" while researching this blog. That sounds too much like scrapbooking. Mood boards are for you and should come from the heart. They should make you happy and inspire you. Should they be shown to someone else, they will be seeing you. Which is fine, except no one is seeing inside my closet.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Jonesing for Jackets

Iris knows jackets go everywhere

We've all got our fashion addictions. Shoes. Handbags. Fine Jewelry. Done, done and done. I troll the designer aisles at DSW Shoe Warehouse with the best of my sole sisters. Unless it's the world's most amazing flat, I'm not buying. My handbag has to be big enough and tough enough. Once found I tend to carry it to (its) death. My husband is sick of hearing how lucky he is I don't like diamonds.

But I do fall (often head over heels) for a couple things. One is jackets. Not the kind that keep you warm; the kind that make an outfit.* And the lumpier I seem to be getting, the more thankful that jackets can both hide and shout.

Prada's dream coat of many colors (right)

Although they have their places, I'm not talking basics like a blazer, a denim jean jacket or black moto jacket. I mean statement jackets. Sewn of fanciful fabrics. Often ethnic inspired—Mandarin, Mexican, Maharajah. You could travel the world on the jackets in my closet.

The jackets I love are long enough. Sometimes they are even called "short coats".

The fit is not too snug as they will be worn with something underneath.

You have the option of taking this jacket off, but it mostly stays on.

It may be a solid fabric in a beautiful color or beaded and embroidered within an inch of its life.

The collar is simple if not non-existent.

They often have pockets (an added bonus).

The fabric is not flimsy or it should be lined.

A jacket can express your personality (because it has a personality too).

You can dress up a t-shirt and jeans.

You can make an evening look with palazzo pants, dressy Capris or a long skirt.

Because each jacket is memorable you need a gaggle of them so as not to bore your audience.

Now that I've waxed rhapsodic about the Beauty of the Jacket, I think I deserve another one, don't you?

On its way...

* One of those evergreen and golden fashion rules: Three pieces make an outfit.

Friday, January 16, 2015

If the Glove Fits...

This week a little tempest in a teapot has been brewing about Amal Alamuddin Clooney's long white gloves. She's been getting flak about their being inappropriate for the occasion (hardly a tempest), ill-fitting (true) and the fact that she "sewed them herself that morning".

Long white gloves, aka "opera gloves", were once part of an elegant outfit and not relegated to debutantes or strippers. The long black gown she wore and the red carpet occasion were perfect foils for the gloves.  They make her great arm candy for black-and-white tux-ed George Clooney. Or is he arm candy for her??? Either way, not an issue in my book.

Why she would ever take the time and make the effort to sew them herself? She's a human rights activist and lawyer. Couldn't she help save the world a little bit last week? I notice the "Je Suis Charlie" button on her evening clutch. And the gloves don't fit. Scrunchy is one thing, but she could get George's hands in there with hers.

There is one thing that bothers me even more than the white glove controversy. Do you notice how thin— painfully thin— she is? We have been oohing and ahhing about Amal Style since George let us meet her. She looks great in clothes. Her wedding-weekend-in-Venice wardrobe was to die for. But at what price to look like a supermodel? Notice her upper arms in the photos and the hip bone jutting out in the picture below. Some women are naturally reed slim. I hope she's one of them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Joy of Shopping

Photo by Durell Godfrey

There is nothing I can say about this picture that lovers of the marketplace don't know already. This is one happy lady. Why is she smiling from ear to ear? In the doldrums of winter she has scored two giant bags of treasure. Fortunately I was able to contact her— it helps to know the photographer who knows most everyone in town. The "she" is Randie, aka the Ultimate Shopper, and this is what Randie found at the East Hampton (NY) Ladies Village Improvement Society mid-winter sale:

"In the bag were... a beautiful vintage (mint) long black cashmere coat, a short Andrew Marc puffy red coat with fur hood, Tommy Hilfiger oxblood red riding boots, a luggage-color Faconnable tote bag, a luggage-color Cole Hahn tote bag, matching suede-like gloves from Henri Bendel made in France, a black Ralph Lauren v-neck sweater, black leather snakeskin Stuart Weitzman loafers and a cute leopard collar perfect for a black velvet jacket! All for $134.00!!!" 

I would consider any one of those alone reason enough to venture out. Very few things these days, other than the usual obligations of work and groceries, are luring me away from the heat vents. A good sale would be one of them.

Weather extremes are sometimes a boon to shopping. A hot summer day and a sub-zero outlet mall are right up my alley. Sudden downpour + no umbrella + 99 cent store? No problem.

Wish I were this organized

I've convinced myself that shopping at thrift stores is doing a good thing to help others. No finer example is a woman I met who loves to shop and works near a mother lode of charity resale boutiques. She shops on her lunch hour for blouses and tops she then donates to Dress for Success. She says it relieves stress and gets her outside for a little walk. I call that the gift that keeps on giving.

Shopping is not always fun— like when you have to find something in a hurry. The other day I searched high and low for a space heater. Walmart, Target, Lowe's and Home Depot were all sold out. The local hardware store (wooden floors, nails sold individually) had plenty. And plenty of other stuff, too, I discovered.

Finding a dress for an event you don't want to attend is not fun. Never mind that 90% of the time you end up having a lovely evening.  Replacing a pair of favorite shoes that are plum worn out is frustrating as you can never find the same ones again. There are thankless items like trouser socks, jeans one size larger, a bathing suit.

Not everyone loves to shop. I don't understand it, but I acknowledge it. For serious shopping I prefer going solo. But I do have happy memories of friendships sealed with a shopping trip no matter what else we did that day. It's the joy that binds.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What the Well-dressed Koala Needs

I don't want to make light of this because it's a very heartfelt appeal that I am taking seriously. Koalas can't help it if they are absolutely adorable even in their stressed out state due to summer wildfires in Australia. Seems they fall victim as the fires traumatize them, and they just wait around to be rescued. Thus many incur severe burns on their paws. Koalas also have weak immune systems, which doesn't help the healing process. The call is out for seamstresses (not much skill needed) to whip up koala mitten donations. You can read more about it here, including a link for a very simple mitten pattern:

Don't forget summer in Australia means winter, now, in the northern hemisphere. I've not been to Australia, but I've been up close and personal with koalas at the San Diego zoo. They do sleep a lot.

The thought of burn victim koalas needing mittens keeps me from thinking about needing mittens here in south Texas in this cold spell. So I'll stay inside and sew.

Thanks to Laura C. for passing on the call for help.

Photo by Trevor Brightman

Friday, January 9, 2015

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Iris Apfel, late bloomer?

Thanks, Vanessa Friedman (head fashion critic at the New York Times) for giving credence to what I've been thinking.*

First a trickle, now almost a tidal wave, fashion is embracing the old, at least the older. But are we oldsters just fashion's playthings, the next "next thing"? The shock of the new? Attractive by our supposed higher buying power? Is fashion really catering, in any fashionable way, to the amazing, talented, creative, actively engaged population over 60?

The optimist gushes "maybe". The realist sighs "not yet". The pessimist mumbles "this too shall pass".

Vanessa makes some very good points. This whole business stems from the launch of Ari Seth Cohen's blog "Advanced Style" in 2010. The stylistas he chronicles are not just old, they are elderly and can be a bit eccentric. But all seem charming and have one thing in common— courage. "Advanced Style" spawned a book and a documentary but not much in the way of influencing fashion. A number of women (and men) have since become lionized for style they've had for ages— Iris Apfel, Betty Halbreicht and Nick Wooster among them. If Diana Vreeland were still alive she would be too.

Isabella too old at 44...
... at 61 and beautiful as ever

It's nice that Julia Roberts, age 47 (a youngster in my book), is the new face of Givenchy. It still rankles that Isabella Rossellini was fired from Lancome at 44 for being too old. It's lovely that Helen Mirren (69), Charlotte Rampling (68) and Diane Keaton (69) are muses and models. They are each fashionable in her own way. But Joan Didion, age 80, representing Celine seems a bit of a joke. She's always looked like a mousy librarian afraid of her own shadow. And I fear the Dolce and Gabbana grandmas peppering their ads are only comic relief.

"Is that book overdue?"
D & G's nonnas

Vanessa reveals that the movers and shakers in fashion today are not spring chickens or young blades. Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani are in their 80s, as was the late Oscar de la Renta. Ralph Lauren is 75. Donna Karen, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfield are in their 60s.

All this attention doesn't add up to change in what appears on runways, in magazines, in stores. Luckily we're going through a generous fashion phase. You can wear skinny pants if you wish (or should), avoid them if that's a better fit. Tunic tops are "in" and can deflect a multitude of sins, but it's not enough to throw on any old one and think you've nailed it. Fashion requires a bit of work. That's why looking good is such a nice accomplishment.

I've coined the term WOACA (Women of a Certain Age), though I'm the only person who uses it. Don't you think it has a nice ring?
We're here,
we're proud,
we're not going away,
and if you're lucky you'll be one too.

* "Respect Your Elders: Is fashion's love for older women, like Joan Didion, sincere?" by Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times, January 8, 2015