Monday, November 30, 2009

Button up!

Being a long-time fan of wraps, belts and sashes, I have somehow for years and years managed to steer clear of anything that needs to be buttoned - one of the exceptions being a white Liquid coat with big, black velvet-coated buttons (left), that was a surprise gift from my boyfriend a few years ago, others being the occasional horrible work outfit, the choice of which I am usually not in a position to influence or question. The one below took about 15 minutes to get in and out of, mostly due to those endless rows of miniscule buttons in all possible and impossible places: really bad news for those of us who are more or less unable to get through the day without downing a minimum of five big cups of coffee (which translates to a lot of bathroom breaks, if anyone didn't get it).

However, due to my current obsession with WASPy chic (this movie triggered it), I am suddenly head-over-heels crazy not only about pearls, princess-cut diamond studs and 2.55s, but in particular the classic blazer with piping and gold nautical buttons (how I'm wearing it!), as seen at Balenciaga AW09 as well as Tory Burch and H&M back in '08 and '07, respectively (below). Those buttons! They just seem to work with everything.... jeans, MJ pencil skirts, flea market scarves, riding boots even when they're fresh from a trip to the stables. Knowing myself too well, though, I'm sure this infatuation will soon come to an end and I'll be back in my ratty belted vintage shearling coat... but until then, I intend to enjoy!

Having finally began to perceive the fashion allure of buttons, as opposed to viewing them merely as a means to closing a garment, I do believe that, just like most accessories, they can indeed make or break an outfit. While Nelly Yuki on Gossip Girl and the Lacoste AW07 catwalker below could be postergirls for how to wear toggle buttons in the most boring, predictable way ever, I kind of enjoyed the toggles in French Vogue's blackface Lara Stone editorial (even though I did not care much for the spread in itself). Furthermore, how can you not adore Benjamin Choo's (AW07) oversized black statement buttons? Maybe I'm biased, since the look reminds me of my own beloved Liquid coat....

Fashion magazines and runway footage aside, I became aware of a new, real-life take on the make-or-break dilemma during my vintage window shopping spree the other day. For starters, I fell in love with these glass buttons (right) on an otherwise way-too-busy-for-me brocade coat at Screaming Mimi's -- on an unrelated note, I also managed to go through their whole 1960s rack twice without finding anything to my liking, just to see Chloë Sevigny pull out a lovely powder-blue frock, seemingly my size, from there only minutes later... how did I miss that one? Too busy obsessing over how cute those cute glass buttons would look on a more unassuming jacket, I'm sure. Shortly thereafter, I was faced with the exact opposite problem in that corny store on 7th & A, the name of which I always forget. Ironically enough, an otherwise pretty decent chunky-knit pastel cardigan lost all its appeal when I discovered the unbelievably ridiculous lamb buttons it had been decked out with (yes, those you definitely need to see those for yourself - picture to the left!). No need to emphasize I gave up and returned home empty-handed: never had I realized before that buttons could be such a bummer. Yes, I know the lambs would have been easily fixed at home with a sewing kit... but I was just not in the mood.

To sum up, I however have to hand it to this lady on 34th & 5th the other day, who had successfully ruined her classy, pulled-together outfit -- hat, Vivier-ish heels, structured handbag and all -- by wearing a row of seemingly non-functional buttons on the back of her mustard trench! Or possibly the coat buttoned in the back - I did not get the chance to see the front. Either way, I'll be damned, but not even Chloë would have been able to pull off a look like that!

Would you ever wear a coat like this....? If you did, you would probably end up on my blog... and not in a good way. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Can you really (not) mix silver and gold?

There are a couple of dumb pieces of style "wisdom", that each and every self-appointed fashion expert will always try to stuff in our faces, whenever opportunity knocks. You know what I mean... no white after Labor Day, no hot pants with knee-high or higher boots, never mix this and that color, and so on. While I whole-heartedly agree that print mismatch is a bad idea and that sweatpants are strictly for trips to the gym and the laundromat (I don't care if they're Juicy Couture, OK?), I believe most of these other "rules" should be challenged as often as possible. After all, it's very often the unpredictable clashes that make for great fashion statements!

That said, however, for every style clash out of nowhere that comes out as a brilliant fashion innovation, there are about 10 or more that just read as terrible examples of wardrobe mishap. One of the classic mismatch hit-or-miss combos is indeed the mixing of different metallics... in particular silver and gold.

I have yet to see a full silver-gold ensemble that actually works - the Marc Jacobs AW07 look to the left is an extremely lame example; Doutzen Krous for German Vogue (April 2009) to the right comes off as a little better. However, I believe the way to successfully mix gold and silver is steering clear of shiny Barbarella clothing and instead adding metallic accents, in the form of shoes, accessories or even makeup, to an otherwise neutral outfit. Usually, I would add a disclaimer here, emphasizing that this is not necessarily true for looks intended for stage, editorial photography or runway, but honestly.... the gold-silver combo might be one of the few cases where catwalkers, primadonnas and 9-5 office slaves can all benefit greatly from the less-is-more philosophy!

Some inspiration: a smokey silver eye paired with golden hoops on Kate Moss for Vogue Nippon (July 2009); Anna Jagodzinska and Sigrid Agren for the Bottega Veneta AW09 campaign; silver-gold jewelry combos by Jason Wu and Thea Grant, respectively; metallic-mix accessories by Marc Jacobs, MaxMara and YSL (MJ pewter handbag, MaxMara ankle wrap gladiator, YSL slingbacks, MJ satchel, YSL pewter handbag, YSL belt.)

In general, I think you get the best results working different metallics into the same item (as in the case of the Jason Wu necklace or the MJ/YSL bags - even though I am not particularly crazy about the latter) or, alternatively, wearing them very close together to create the illusion of one single piece (as in the Bottega Veneta ad). On the contrary, mindlessly pairing gold and silver all over the place looks sloppy and thoughtless - see Raquel Zimmermann's gold jewelry and silver handbag pendant as a reference (image from W's November '09 "Art and Commerce" editorial). Just lose that pendant or at least get it in gold! I know, matchy-matchy sucks, but it's sometimes to prefer over total mismatch - at least in the case of metallics!

And for yet another horrifying example, scroll up again to the very first picture in this post. Someone got dressed in the dark the other day and forgot she was already wearing a silver necklace and a dress with a built-in fake silver chain belt, when she grabbed a purse with a gold chain-strap on the way out to walk the doggie.... yes, that would be me. Evidently, even fashion bloggers screw up now and then. At least that little mishap inspired me to write this post....!

What's your opinion on mixing metalllics? Are you a total Barbarella or do you at best prefer to wear some mixed bling on your wrist or so, leaving it at that? Let's hear it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Window shopping: Jimmy Choo for H&M

No matter what time or weather it is, or where I am - as long as it's in Manhattan, Williamsburg, DUMBO or Astoria - I always, always walk home from work. Also, when given the opportunity, I will be sure to window shop along the way, figuring out how to spend the check I just made!

Yesterday, after slaving away on Gossip Girl all day, I got out right before midnight and, heading home from the UES, happened to stumble upon the H&M window display on 50-something & Lex - crammed with cheap Jimmy Choo! I must have been so busy lately, I completely forget this diffusion line is released on Saturday...!

As anyone in the whole world with an internet connection knows by now, the plenitude of leaked photos of the collection has clearly hinted that most of the footwear is nothing but boring low-budget versions of the main house line. Nothing to see here, except for bigger blisters and more frequent trips to the cobbler! I could feel the pesky, plastic straps digging into my ankles just from looking at these shoes!

While my personal preference would be to hit a consignment store for an authentic, albeit gently used pair of Choos, rather than to spend $150-200 on something from a watered-down diffusion label, I will however admit at least most of these H&M heels are very pretty (check out my favorite below)! The clothing, on the other hand, left me completely unimpressed - the pieces looked old and tired, sort of like something that Carmela Soprano would wear to a Lions Club dinner. Or if you wish.... something that the GG costume department would put the 40+ background in for a gala scene. I would know - I just witnessed it with my own eyes, right?!

I cannot imagine I will be lining up for the launch on Saturday.... but I might swing by the Lex and 5th Ave stores, just to take stalker pictures of people who do! And if the pair above is not sold out in size 9, and my boyfriend is not around to stop me, I might get down from my high horse and consider an acquisition... if not anything else, I bet that royal blue box will be great for storing scarves and chunky jewelry. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Broken Embraces

I feel like I live my life on set these days - and my poor blog is suffering as a result. The dress code for this week's project is preppy, upscale, blueblooded, WASPy... in other words, we're talking neat shifts, strands of pearls wrapped in gold chains, quilted lambskin bags, fitted bouclé jackets and heirloom pins. Needless to say, I am in heaven.

On my night off yesterday, I went to a screening of Pedro Almodóvar's "Broken Embraces", and aside from being completely taken in by the film, I fell in love with most of Penélope Cruz's costumes - as if I hadn't been exposed to enough preppy fashion lately at work already. Below: inspiration for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Size Matters

As a little kid, having taught myself to read at a very early age, I would spend hours and hours after my official bedtime, hiding under the covers with a flashlight, reading fairytales, cartoons and any other children's lit I could get my hands on. One of my favorite reads was Cinderella - let alone the part of the story where her ugly sisters had their heels and toes cut off to fit in that little tiny glass shoe always left me shivering. It was simply beyond the five-year-old me how one could undergo something so torturous, to gain something of such dubious value: fitting into a piece of uncomfortable footwear, marrying a rich prince and whatnot!

Fast forward a couple of decades and you will find the grown up Cookie, whole-heartedly sympathizing with those who nip, tuck and Restylane themselves to appear more attractive to the "princes" of the 2000s. Not to mention those who squeeze their poor tootsies into strappy stilettos or patent peep-toed cone heels - the modern version of the everything but comfy glass shoe! While I personally have no interest in any kind of surgical touch-up (but ask me again when I'm older!), I am often swearing over my long toes or that extra inch on my hip whenever the shoes or clothes I want are sold out in my size.... yet perfectly available and delicious-looking on the boutique shelf or the rack, were my measurements only a tad tinier.

But do not for a moment think that such insignificant little details will stop me once I have my eyes set on the perfect ruffle dress or a pair of must-have snakeskin stilettos. Our local shoemaker has received a lot of business thanks to this size-defying shopping habit of mine, having had to stretch out plenty of size 8 leather boots and booties, so as to make them fit my size 8.5 feet. However, when it comes to clothing rather than shoes, for some reason I am much more wary of taking my beloved (but nevertheless a tad too small) size 0 garments to a tailor. Having heard horror stories about how illegal immigrant needle-and-thread phonies, operating from holes in the wall and barely being able to communicate in English, destroyed a friend's Prada coat as well as another acquaintance's favorite Betsey dress - mistakenly turning it into a tunic that barely covered her derrière - I have simply decided that I'd rather make myself drop one size than run the risk of having any alterations turn a slight fitting problem into complete sartorial disaster.

Yes, I know there are reputable tailors out there. Whatever. Why rid yourself of a great incentive to put down that sandwich and hit the treadmill instead? Not only will you save money by doing so (food is expensive; so are good tailors), but you will fit into your once-too-small designer garment before you know it!

While I hope everyone understands I am not 100 % serious, this brilliant strategy has somewhat surprisingly worked for me a considerable number of times. That said, I have yet to fit into the 24" pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans, that I purchased on sale last year during a blurry moment when I ambitiously vowed to quit sugary cereals and the occasional bowl of pasta... and figured I would actually be able to stick with it. Too bad... I am sure they would look fabulous with equestrian boots and a flowy Anna Sui top.

My next "weight loss challenge" is a teal bouclé Calypso skirt with satin bow decorations at the hip, size XS, that I picked up at a local consignment shop last Saturday (picture to the right). Since I can actually zip it up already without too much extra effort, I am figuring this will be an easy one. It's just about making it a little more roomy so I will actually able to actually move around and breathe at the same time, and I think I will have to lose no more than about half an inch all over.... stop laughing!

Please tell me I am not the only one who shops like this! I am constantly trying to tell myself I am far from the only one being guilty of buying my desired, rather than actual size, at least in those cases where a size 2/4 (my actual) is unavailable!

Most recent case in point: I could not help notice the original price tag was still attached at the back of my new Calypso skirt, and that the garment was seemingly never worn. Needless to say, I was thrilled to realize that I had just acquired a brand new piece that used to retail for $145 - at the mere price of $25! But also, and more importantly, this made me wonder if the fellow fashionista, in whose closet this skirt had been sitting unworn, was of the same ambitious, size-defying and hopelessly unrealistic breed as myself: having tried and tried in vain to squeeze her hips into that narrow opening of teal bouclé, until she faced the facts and figured she might as well cut her losses, trade her XS piece in for some cash at Matiell's, and revert to having granola and toast for breakfast?

As I handed over my MasterCard, the store owner assured me that I could certainly return the piece on consignment, should my shrinkage plans fall through. We'll see... hopefully that will not be necessary. I have promised to model it for him next time I swing by, so I'd better start cutting that Raisin Bran, sooner rather than later!

Got any fashion finds in your closet that you've been planning to lose inches for, ever since you purchased them.... so that you can actually start wearing them? Or are you a responsible realist, who would never bother with such silly antics?

Pictures in this post: Cinderella shoe at my local shoemaker's; cute black and red patent/suede kitten heel Oxfords at Metropolis, that I would buy and have stretched, were they only a little bigger than a size 6....
Don't forget to enter the Twillypop Giveaway!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Twillypop Giveaway!

I am very happy and honored to be hosting the first giveaway on my blog! For all of you who love ribbons, ruffles, beads and pearls - this is your chance to win an amazingly beautiful Twillypop necklace, designed by Sara, one of our fellow fashion bloggers!

To enter, please visit Twillypop's Etsy site,, and then return here to comment on what you like the most about Sara's designs. Then please check out Sara's blog,, and become a follower. Easy enough, right? We will draw a winner at random on Friday! Please note that you will need a U.S. address to participate.

A big thank you to Sara for letting me host her giveaway, and to Diane for introducing us in the first place!

I'll be back to regular programming later this week, with the usual stalker snapshots and random fashion musings. XOXOXOX
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