A Few Words on Fashion

Month: September, 2012

Video of the Week: Lana Sings the Blues

One time, a few years ago, I made the mistake of shopping at H&M watching David Lynch’s Blue Velvet straight through, first thing in the morning, alone. When I say morning, I mean it was dawn-thirty in an old house in New Orleans and no one was awake but me. The spook factor was through the roof, which, unlike some of my former residences, was thankfully fully patched and leak-proof. Trust me, the intrusion of water into your living room and the subsequent ceiling damage it causes—ex. bits of it falling on your head—is considerably worse than any Pabst-swilling, sociopathic Roy Orbison fan stealing your baby and husband. Or maybe it’s not, but it’s still pretty bad.

Such was how I originally considered Lana del Rey: pretty bad. It was nighttime, I was alone in a house in Houston—this one built in the current century—and someone ambushed my inbox with a clip of Video Games. I want to use some Frank Booth language to describe my initial feelings towards the video, but I’m too much of a lady to speak like that (in public, anyway).

Both videos—the Games and the full-length feature mentioned above—left me more than a little disturbed, but both have come, in time, to be cherished, preferred pieces of my personal pop culture portfolio. From Blue Velvet to Blue Jeans, Lynch and Lana got me good.

…And that’s about as far as this argument can be extended. The parallels here are flimsy and drawn only for the purpose of introducing the baffling new H&M ad, which is in-and-of-itself a dubious piece of film.

The commercial, which debuted last Wednesday, presents the somewhat unceremonious and dimly-lit union of the internet chanteuse modeling H&M’s fall line and random Lynchian imagery. Its references are not even all from Blue Velvet, and I’m fairly certain Lynch was an unwilling groom. The clip is unsettling but not in a cerebral way, although del Rey’s cover of the film’s title song is good. Watch:




New York State of Mind

Thinking big in a small space: easier done in Manhattan than when trying to pack to get there, which I what I’m attempting for the coming weekend. Four days, three nights, two dinners, one brunch and myriad other activities, each necessitating outfits at varying levels of formality; all must fit into a carry-on. I am refusing the $25 checked bag fee–those are funds better allocated towards a post-plane bellini at Cipriani.

I need: shoes for night, shoes for day (walkable, both), blouses, shirts, a jacket, a sweater, a skirt, tights or leggings, a handbag for day, a handbag for night, and a rain trench since the forecast shows 66 degrees–that’s practically arctic for my Southern blood–and a 40% chance of rain. If there’s anything more detestable than being cold and wet, it’s being poorly dressed to boot. And boots are out of the question since we’re dealing with a cabin-sized suitcase.

Heels are warranted, but they’ll have to be somewhat substantial; I’ll need my toes covered and I can’t walk far in stilettos. So I’ve chosen a chunky YSL-looking (they’re actually Dolce Vita) pair in grey and black suede with gold piping and an ankle strap. The heel is thick; they go with everything and I’ll probably wear them to dinner once or twice.

This is step one in today’s prudent packing lesson: make sure everything is coordinated and can be worn more than once, but never reuse an outfit; that’s boring, folks. It helps to stick to a certain color palette, and also to make a list of what you’re doing and where (wear?).

Color-wise I’m doing greys, blues, and blacks for the clothes…

…and adding a P.O.C (pop of color!) with accessories.

One of my favorite modes of P.O.C.-ing? Lipstick. MWAH!

In addition to the heels, I’m packing a pair of black smoking slippers and I might throw in my white Converse, since I know it’s going to rain.

For that reason I’m also taking my rain-trench, which I’ll probably wear on the plane over my  pullover, which, unworn, assumes the most space of any one item.

Also wearing in transit: My jeans. Yep, I’m only taking the one garment. Don’t look at me like I’m an unlaundered child of the gutter; I said one garment, not one pair. Huh?


These clever pants are made by Bleulab and they are AWESOME for traveling. I acquired them earlier this year; I think they’ve gone on just about every trip I’ve taken since.

So what’s left? Makeup, shampoo, face wash, and jewelry, all of which I will put in travel sized-containters (they sell them at the drugstore) and will likely put in my purse—black, pictured above with the blues and greys and is itself the size of a small suitcase—so as to ease the screening process at security. Flying from one major US airport to another major US airport does not a fun time with the TSA make.

And here we have it: all four days, three nights, and a couple of extras just for good measure all fit into my little bag, and I still have space for acquisitions!



Video of the Week: Coco vs. Coco

Supermodel Coco Rocha has now been twenty-four for exactly one week now—let me know how it is Coco, I’ll be joining you in exactly one month, eek!—and has had her new White House Black Market spot on the air for the same period of time. It’s cute, watch it here:

Did you know that Rocha was discovered at an Irish River Dancing competition? Truth. And OK so that’s kind of nerdy, but also kind of cool. Hidden talents, ya know?

And why do I know all these intimate biographical things about Miss Rocha? Because I grew up in the era of the Supermodel and only grew into a 5’5” frame so it’s like my bone marrow soaks up this knowledge it needs to grow but won’t use because my bone structure is stunted. It’s a particular affliction certain little girls of the early 90s must bear. It’s really a terrible thing and can cause a lot of stress on the joints; River Dancing is simply out of the question.


White Noise

Labor Day has come and Labor Day has gone. Summer is [socially] fini, though technically we’ve got nine more days til the start of fall. But with so many autumn shindigs a-comin’, ie fall outfit ops, who has time to mourn the dog days past?

Now that we’ve had a full ten days to grieve, let’s just go ahead and address the big white elephant in the room: can one enrobe oneself in said animal’s skin tone past the first weekend of this month?

In short, oui.

Firstly, if we’re going to be all posh and bothered about this rule, let’s make sure we’re being correct as well: historically, the rule applies to shoes only, and that includes soles. Especially soles. Now think about who made this rule (we’ll get to that nonsense shortly but continue to consider for the time being that those who penned it are, and always will be, the utmost authority on les règles de la mode) and let us consider why this rule was made: if Labor Day is the end of summer, socially speaking, then all summertime activities cease and desist til the Day of our Savior’s Rising in the Spring. Until then, the tennis rackets and their accompanying footwear are shelved and the sailboats with their requisite white-soled boat shoes are docked.  So if you’re not out sailing you should begin saying farewell to your Sperry’s and promise you’ll see them again next year.

But if you’re in the Bahamas or Florida, or even if you’re even just down in Galveston, can’t you be out on the water well into December? But of course you can, and your boat deck needn’t be scuffed up just for fashion’s sake, and honestly, though boating may conjure up all sorts of Jackie O-on-Aristotle’s-yacht-type style fantasies, the truth of the matter is boating is not a glamour-driven sport. And so we begin to see the cracks in this allegedly unsinkable No-White-After-Labor-Day decree.

I’m reminded of a photo I saw several years ago on the Sartorialist’s blog:


She’s walking through the Tuileries in November and looks perfectly seasonable. This is actually one of my all-time favorite outfits, and incidentally the one that prompted my acquisition of these Frye engineer boots shortly thereafter.

I currently have my eye on a black pair of OTK boots—I think these may finally be The Ones—and I do believe they’d look more than a little spiffy with a pair of white skinny jeans and black moto jacket, an idea inspired by the Tuileries muse. Per the Rule, I can’t wear that because white is now so passé. But if I wait until after Easter, my boots will be too.

Labor Day is a strictly American holiday but puh-lease; since when do we in America decide the world’s sartorial standards? Though the CFDA would likely disagree, “We the People” are not the international authority on how to dress. Though no one’s chic like a French girl is, I think the photo above proves layering and accented juxtaposition can transition any color, any garment, and anyone into Fall. If the Tuileries girl can do white jeans and make it seem appropriate, I can do them too. But let’s forget appropriateness; that’s not something I’d ever hear a French girl worrying about. And if French girls aren’t the standard, who is?

So let’s put color aside and consider cloth instead. Linen, seersucker, Madras and the like do not do well into early October. Garments in these fabrications should be put away when a chill hits the air, mostly because they’re just non-functional at that point. We need suede, and wool, fur, and—my favorite—leather. But again, if you’re a college kid in the SEC, by all means wear your seersucker to that Saturday morning tailgate. It’s 100% appropriate as long as the weather permits.

The issue then is not whether you wear the color white, but how you wear it. White jeans and boots with a dark color top? How clever! Hearing your silk blouse crying limply from its hanger? Layer with a turtleneck and take it out on the town. Still want to wear your platform sandals into fall? Put some opaque tights underneath. Love your jean shorts like you’re a Never Nude? Do the same thing. Kate Moss does. All the time.

White denim shorts + black opaque tights + boots + a turtleneck and blouse?  Do not mind if I do!

boots: Frye. shorts: 7 for All Mankind. sweater: Helmut Lang. blouse: Equipment. That’s right. It’s a sweater UNDER a blouse!

See you again tomorrow September; I’ll be dressed and ready.



Do You Know What it Means?

The thing about writing and managing your own blog is that you work on your own schedule; it’s not like in school where your paper is due and you either pull an all-nighter to git er’ done or get an extension that still ends with a due date.

I realize it’s been awhile since the last post but, if it’s any excuse, I was out of town this weekend in the City That Care Forgot (and where I forgot to care about this blog) and I have only just gotten back. When I say “just” I mean five days ago and when I say “this” weekend I actually mean “last.” But since I’m moving on Louisiana time this is practically prompt.

And of course whilst I was away I shopped. I didn’t mean to—I really didn’t—that’s not why I went. But shortly before I left I read an article in Women’s Wear Daily entitled “New Orlean’s Retail Rebirth” (Rebecca Kleinman. Tuesday, July 31, 2012) and I felt it would be a complete waste of my subscription if I didn’t visit at least one of the shops mentioned. We always find a way to reason.

One of the things I love best about New Orleans—the city I called home for several years until last September—is the symbiotic relationship of death and creation: it is quite literally a civic Shiva.  For every Rita churning in the Gulf there is a marg doing the same at Superior; for every timepiece that stops ticking, an artist’s cogs to turn the thing wearable again.

I bought the bracelet pictured above at last year’s Bayou Boogaloo festival where Forrest, the guy behind Arts Kinetic and these awesome creations, had a booth set up. Among the cleverest in the line: little watch cog people earrings, which I unfortunately have no image of but you can find them here. There are a bunch of other super cool collections too. I love this one especially.

Schade für mich, the bracelet broke (not due to faulty craftsmanship—I’m just seriously ungraceful) and I had forgotten to have it repaired until I saw similar pieces this weekend at Vernon, a shop on lower Magazine and also the only place mentioned in the WWD article I made it into.

Vernon’s walls are decorated with these awesome (I’m assuming vintage) James Bond movie posters and they stock a mixture of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear as well as fragrances and jewelry and other lifestyle tchotchkes. The space is pretty small but well used and there’s a small, old-school bar in the center back, maybe for decoration but since this is New Orleans it’s probably functional as well.

Of course my attention was immediately diverted to the shiny things in the cases around the register and since one of the shiny things was also a skull thing, well…you can see where this is going. The wares were by St. Claude Nola, another local designer/artist. I use these terms in conjunction with one another because most New Orleans-based craftsmen are totally hands-on with their product, which is pretty indicative of the local spirit in general. Anyone can tell you: it isn’t Washington that’s rebuilding New Orleans; it’s New Orleanians themselves, both natives and transplants, that are bringing it back.

Serious political talk over, let’s get back to the pretty things:

These are one of two pieces I bought that day. The skull earrings really aren’t an original design; I could have picked something similar up anywhere. I bet if you googled “skull earrings, buy” you could find a pair for sale quicker than I was able to type the suggestion.

But that pair won’t have soul. To me, there’s a significance in the fact that these were locally made, made from brass—which is a pretty unique metal for jewelry—and follow in the tradition of vanitas art: a visual reminder of our mortality, albeit a lovely one.

I acquired this necklace by St. Claude that day too. Since I couldn’t fit into the Saints bikinis Vernon stocked (apparently I have been eating my feelings about no longer living in NOLA for the past year…?), my funds fell on this.

Remember kids, you can never be too fat for jewelry.

And, on a separate outing to Magazine–because, yes, there had to be more thane one–I picked up these, courtesy of the Defend New Orleans store:

Hilarious. They’re not a fashion thing but I felt they needed some publicity. AND they go to a good cause, so while you’re preventing one spill, you’re helping clean up another. I don’t know if I can handle the level of puns here.

As a post script, I’d like to ask everyone to keep the victims of Isaac in our thoughts this week. It wasn’t a big storm, but a hurricane of any category is a serious thing, especially for that low-lying area of the coast.

xx Z