Sunday, July 27, 2014
I just had an other-world, out-of-body, psychic experience with Fashion. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
A few weeks ago I lamented that I had not bought a dress we had in stock during the holiday season at The Lovely Boutique Where I Work. It was a stunner, but I had no place to wear it. I never tried it on, so as not to be tempted. I let it go... onto the markdown rack... out of the store...
Now a wedding event has come up. I realize I have the perfect shoes, the cover-up, the jewelry— but not the dress. That coveted dress was indeed available to purchase on ebay, but at a price too unreasonable if it didn't fit or just plain looked terrible.
This past weekend we were in the magical city of New Orleans. Anything can happen, and it did. I always stop into a truly genuine outlet shop located in the French Quarter. A beautiful silk dress hung on the size 2 rack. I usually need a prayer and a shoe horn to get into a 2, but this dress had a price tag of $595— make that $59.99— better yet $14.99— okay $4.99. It was worth the effort to try on a $595 dress now selling at $4.99.
Which I did.
And it fit.
And looked divine.
So I bought it.
Before the store could change its mind.
For reasons (mostly guilty) I am not revealing the designer name. I don't want them to know one of their beautiful creations ended up begging "Please, please get me out of here". I don't want anyone to think the unnamed shop sells stuff for a song, because they don't. This was a fluke.
What struck me, not just that this was a lucky buy, but that the designer name was the same who had made the dress-that-got-away.
Was it New Orleans, the land of magical thinking? Similar things have happened before. The dry cleaner once ruined my old-but-still-favorite dress. When I had dropped it off I said (jokingly), "Please don't ruin this; it's my favorite dress." And they did— ruin it. I ran home, went on ebay, and immediately found one, NWT, in my size.
If fashion is your religion, you are a believer.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
|Radio: theater of the imagination|
Today is my birthday. I'm old enough to realize each day is special. I'm happy to have family and friends, good health, a purpose to my days... and a list a mile long of things I'd like to see or do or get filed away.
I'm also old enough to remember radio— and when television came into the house. One day a console radio took center stage. We kids would sprawl on the floor right in front of it. That was hardly necessary as you could hear the radio anywhere in our small living room. The next day a television took its place.. We then had to sit close because the screen was so small.
One of my favorite radio shows was "Baby Snooks", the comedic adventures of a little girl— but played by veteran vaudeville comedian Fanny Brice. Baby Snooks was probably too old to be called Baby; she was supposed to be around five. She was worldly wise and a wise-cracker, adept at getting into— and out— of trouble. Even at the age I first remember her (probably also five) I admired her gumption and ability to do anything and get away with it. Let's say she was the troublemaker I knew I should never be.
But I thought Baby Snooks was a child. It was a terrible disappoint to discover that Fanny Brice was a middle aged woman. Even in Baby Snooks-costume I knew she was no kid. Perhaps that was my first lesson in mutton-dressed-as-lamb.
|Baby, you are no baby!|
Fast forward a few years. I had just turned 14. Just. You could say I was 13 and 372 days. Never was there a more accurate description of my mother than "She had champagne tastes and a beer pocketbook". She saw that the Waldorf Astoria in New York City had a summer special where children 13 and under stayed free. I assume in those days you paid by the person and not by the room.
We hit the road— 550 miles in an un-airconditioned car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with Howard Johnson's our only source of sustenance. I'm not sure what I wore in the car, but somewhere around Newark I changed into a baby pink cotton sundress and plunked a matching baby pink sailor hat on my head. How did I even own that hat?
|All Waldorf, no salad|
This served as my "checking-into-the-Waldorf" outfit. I must have looked about ten. My mother was not taking any chances we would be disqualified for the discounted rate. I was a full partner in this ruse. I loved the idea of staying at the Waldorf and had bragged about it to my friends. That night we dressed for dinner, and I wore a black sheath dress— scoop neck, sleeveless, pencil skirt. Tres chic that sheath but probably too sophisticated for a young teen. The pink ensemble made no more appearances in New York City.
We had a lovely trip, though we ate dinner every evening at the same restaurant: Stouffer's. My mother had coupons.
|Stouffer's "Top of the Sixes" was |
dining in high style
Monday, July 14, 2014
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
That Dos Equis beer guy may be the most interesting man in the world, but Nick Wooster has got to be next. I wouldn't call him a dandy (more on that in a minute), but he sure looks dandy.
I never heard of Nick Wooster until the New York Times (aka the newspaper of record) ran a story on him in their Thursday Style Section.
Beau Brummel has been labeled as the first dandy, though that may not be giving him his due. Beau was a clothing revolutionary. He thought men's powdered wigs and lace frippery in Regency England were stupid. He charmed his way into the good graces of the Prince Regent (later King George IV), gave him a well-needed makeover and paved the way for mens-wear forever after. Beau Brummel's downfall was a love of high stakes gambling without the funds to back it.
|Stewart Granger as Beau Brummel—|
While there is indeed a Dandy movement afoot for "the return of the elegant gentlemen", most of us equate dandies with a love of fashion that turns perilously close to affectation. Think Tom Wolfe or Patrick McDonald— very nice men I'm sure, but I'd be nervous to challenge them to a style-off.
|Wolfe at the door|
|Got it down Pat|
Nick Wooster has been around for a while (he's 55). Let's credit (or blame) social media for his rise to prominence. He has an impressive resume: buyer at Barney's, design director at Ralph Lauren, fashion director at Neiman Marcus, president of John Bartlett, director of trend development at J.C. Penney. An endless source of fascination to fashionistas, bloggers and street photographers, his most impressive resume is himself. He joked to the Times that "Instagram is my 401K". He's been called a "digital man crush" and it's said that "young men's-wear dudes idolize and worship him". Nick Wooster doesn't have to say a thing. His own nickwooster.com is a wordless tumblr post of beautiful images— of him and things he likes.
The second most interesting man in the world can also not take a bad picture:
Can one make a living at this? It would seem possible. Harness a trendsetter to your business, and you can reap in the profits. Nick Wooster recently signed on as brand ambassador for the Lardini Group, an Italian maufacturer, and will be developing a Wooster and Lardini collection of mens-wear.
Looking at this from my perspective, I would love for my son or husband to be influenced by this guy. His style is 100% butch*— all the things about men's clothing that we gals love and have appropriated for ourselves over the years. Aside from that he ooooozes confidence, the one trait women cannot help but fall for. Any man who dressed like that with such assurance and chose me as his partner? Well, makes me look good!
Nick Wooster is (sadly) the only man who can make smoking look cool:
|Please don't try this at home|
*Not delusional; I am perfectly aware that Mr. Wooster referred to himself as an "old midget queen".
Friday, July 4, 2014
|Happy Fourth of July!|
Much has been written about the white shirt but not by me. It's charms fell on deaf ears— until I realized I had just bought my third chemise blanc in as many months.
I could declare this The Summer of the White Shirt, but that's like saying The Summer of the Straw Handbag. A crisp white shirt has always looked cool and refreshing— until it is no longer crisp but soggy and sooty. I'm not a perfectionist but hate feeling yucky.
So why now? Am I just ready to simplify? Sleek Zara is one of my favorites; I'm chomping at the bit to visit COS when it opens in New York (mail order already and finally available in the US). I have a new admiration for Eileen Fisher now that my figger can use some skimming in the cloth department.
But a white shirt? With my boy-short hair and flat chest, shirts have never been a favorite. You can only wear a white shirt once. Me, iron? Nevah. Full disclosure: my new white shirts are what the French call chemisiers (shirt blouses). I've now a soft crepe, a cropped mandarin collared and a high-low button down with long tails. More interesting than the usual, the twists are what make 2014's Summer of the White Shirt so appealing.
While not my white shirts (nor on me) the following give you an idea:
|Shirt as blouse|
|Cropped (just love her)|
(on Olivia Palermo)
Never say never, right? But here's a white look that will never happen chez moi:
|Probably hot but so cool...|