Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hammer Time or Harem Time: A Trend Too Late or The Edge of Glory?

The Journey:

Every weekday on my way home from work I transfer subways at Union Square, a crossroads pressed beneath the Flatiron District and just north of the Village. It is here that colorful groups of New York’s fashionable youth gather to commute at practically all hours of the day, and it is here that I discovered the Harem Pant.

What is it and where can I find it? Could I pull that off?

It looked comfy and fashion friendly, but could something I have seen so rarely really be trending (I asked rather pompously to myself)? Perhaps these slouchy drop-crotch trousers are meant only for late 80s rap singers, belly dancers and the likes of Gaga. However, the challenge was clear; I had to have my own fierce and fashionable pair of Homme Harems.   

With so many questions and so little time I enlisted the help from my fashionisto friend and self-proclaimed SoHo Savant, Travis. He was familiar with the pants, had some ideas and was up for the challenge. First stop, he insisted… Patricia Field.

If you aren’t aware of this store, much like myself at the time, then I am happy to introduce you to this kitschy club kid haven! Patricia Field won an Emmy for her stylist role for the Sex and the City stars…including many of Carries most quirky and beloved outfits. Check out Field’s online store here.. you may be surprised with the prices. 

While Patricia Field lived up to the hype it failed to produce a harem. However it did suggest the nearby NoLIta (North of Little Italy) boutique OAK. Ah the Nolita/bowery, my favorite neighborhoods, where the romantic grit of old New York still rang true - surely home to my harem.
Williamsburg, Park Slope & NoLIta

The store was on the edge of fashion’s most funky grayscale garments, and when I presented my search to the cold and meticulously groomed associate he smugly made his way to the backroom to investigate options. It was at this point that my wallet began to whisper worrisome woes, can I afford such couture? If a store were to have a harem, it would be this one, but was I too late…had the trend passed me by, or worse yet was it going to come at too high a cost?

It was ironically relieving when the associate returned with the bad news that the harem, or drop-crotch, was all sold out. My wallet almost sighed in relief until I came across a Miansai bracelet by Michael Saiger **mine**. However, the harem remained elusive.

I tried the retail regulars: Zara, AX, Uniqlo, Bloomingdales, Mango, but to no avail. Then, at the very moment before I gave up all hope and returned to Brooklyn, I saw it, the one place that should have been all too obvious... 

The go-to for all things cotton, the overpriced but in reasonable range, the store for hipsters that shower regularly….

American Apparel ($40) #winning!    

My adventure had taken me through much of lower manhattan, to retail hell even.... and the answer was so simple (and happily affordable).

I eventually traveled back to Patricia Field's and purchased a pair of utilitarian boots... they are perfect for the harem and a great investment piece. At $30 they were well worth it + a super comfy scoop T-shirt from All Saints = perfection! 

The results are below, along with some inspiration, and I must admit that I am happy with the new look, well worth the adventure. I hope my journey has inspired you to find a look and go after it, relish the adventure and make the look your own!

Until next time Blog Buddies, enjoy, and let me know your thoughts on my new look


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stop #1 Key West, Florida

Last weekend, I found myself riding shotgun in my red Chevy Cobalt, cruising down the Overseas Highway which connects the tiny islands that make up the Florida Keys. This vast stretch of asphalt and bridge culminates on Key West, a kitschy tourist town whose residents fully embrace their self proclaimed motto, "One Human Family."

On this beautiful albeit eccentric key, one can hope to find a large homosexual man dressed in women's clothing walking an arm's length away from a traditional Cuban mother carrying her child in a sling across her back. The smell of conch in the air, everyone is dressed in flowy dresses, shorts, and loose fitting tops. Sandals (many handmade on the island) adorn the feet of each traveler making their way to Mallory Square to see the sunset on the horizon.

It is in Mallory Square where Key West's sartorial diversity can best be experienced. Here, locals and tourists alike face west, lured as if in a trance by the sun's colorful palate which paints the clear sky with a rainbow of oranges, pinks, and purples. This awe inspiring display is the ultimate reminder of human equality on earth, or at least on Florida's most magical key.

A lovely floral ensemble at Mallory Square

Strawberry Blonde on Duval Street

A laid-back neon ensemble at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Our lodgings while on the key
(Gap Sunglasses, ella moss tank, H&M bag, thrifted bracelet, Calvin Klein jeans, Havaianas flip-flops)

Samuel's with one of the many quirky fire hydrants on Key West
(drugstore aviators, Fink shirt, Vineyard Vines shorts, Nick Fanning for Reef sandals)

Assorted locals or "Conchs"

Ready for a night on the town!
(Citrine by the Stones brass chain earrings, Express dress, thrifted clutch and shoes)

We met a drag queen (or 20)!

Older gents will fit right in wearing khaki shirts and shorts in honor of Key West's pride and joy, Ernest Hemingway.


Sartorial Soul

Friday, July 22, 2011

fly your freak flag let your true colors shine

The development of a personal style is crucial for any aspiring fashionista (or fashionisto). Individual flair is without a doubt the most important part of any look: Without an accessory, detail, or pattern that undoubtedly screams "YOU", there is not much separating your style from that of a store mannequin. The process of creating a signature look, however, is much more difficult than it sounds. It can be especially daunting to incorporate representations of your personality into your daily wears if you are still discovering the ways in which your personality makes you unique. On my own journey towards discovering a sartorial representation of my personality, I decided to take a moment to consider the evolution of my style in order to determine how my wardrobe choices have come to represent my life, past and present.

Since I can remember, I have used clothing as a way to express myself. From the time my two-year-old self concluded that less is more (I once stripped down to my pull-ups during Sunday Mass without my mother noticing until it was too late.) to the more recent  personalization of my "young professional" wardrobe via eccentric yet appropriate accessories, I have always relied on unique, if not necessarily fashionable, looks as a way to express my creative energy.

As a ten-year-old, I remember being obsessed with the classic teenage romantic comedy "Clueless". I was fascinated by Cher and Dee's matchy mid-nineties outfits complete with hats and gloves, but the looks I tended to gravitate towards most were Ty's "before" outfits, made complete by her carefree attitude and quirky personality, even if she was a bit dense.

   My favorite "Ty" look is pictured below. "Why do I love it so much?" you ask. Three words: Troll Doll T-Shirt! For the record, I had a pair of troll doll earrings with green hair and green belly button gems that I wore almost every day during this period of my life. I was into the Kool-Aid red hair, as well, a few years later. It felt disgustingly sticky, but the smell was intoxicating when I washed it out in the shower. 

  Here are a pair of similar earrings that I found on bluefairy68's shop on Etsy.

On the topic of Ty and her offbeat style, Travis was obviously the cutest/ funniest/ coolest guy in this movie. No matter how many times Cher "as if"-ed Ty's secret love interest, I swooned each time he appeared onscreen.(Check out that velvet shirt in the bottom photo!)

Once I entered middle school, I began to really experiment with fashion in ways that somewhat upset my mother and completely befuddled my friends and classmates. Typical classroom attire might consist of hot pink tights with a patchwork skirt, mid-calf white go-go boots, and a ratty rolling stones t-shirt. On occasion, I was also known to arrive at school with stars drawn on my cheeks in black eyeliner. I don't remember if my primary goal was to draw attention to myself or avert it from my awkward body/ personality. Probably, it was a combination of both.

I recently watched "My So-Called Life" for the first time, and found a doppelganger of my middle school self in Rayanne Graff. Her over-the-top eccentric looks mimic the ensembles my  fourteen-year-old self put together on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, her personality so reminds me of myself at that age that I could not help but imagine I was watching a replay of my own life in her character's unconventional antics. Even stranger, I felt an incredible level of nostalgia as I watched this fantastically insightful yet short lived television series.

These are some of Rayanne's best looks for the following reasons: Colored tights, mixed prints, crazy hair, candy necklaces, floral jacket, and tattoo shirt.

A discussion of "My So-Called Life" would not be complete without mention of the insanely adorable Jordan Catalano. Who cares if he can read? In the words of Angela Chase: "I just like how he's always leaning. Against stuff. He leans great."

Fast forward to 0:55 to hear Jordan's epic tribute. SPOILER ALERT: It's not about Angela!

By the time I entered eleventh grade, I was much more self-conscious concerning my clothing choices. Although I still ignored most trends and loathed expensive fashion wears, I toned down my eccentricities in favor of a muted rock and roll inspired look which basically consisted of badly ripped jeans, midriff baring band tees, converse sneakers, and poorly dyed hair. During this period of my life, I regularly found myself on my dorm room floor listening to my favorite Hole album, Celebrity Skin, on repeat singing/ screaming "OHHHHHHHH, GIVE ME A REASON TO BE BEAUUUUTIFULLLLLLLLL......." along with Courtney Love. I suppose that should be embarrassing to admit, but it's not.

Regardless of her personal mishaps, Courtney will always be a rock star.

Fortunately, I have since navigated my way through college and my first professional job, where I began to realize the artistry and resplendence of designer fashion and learned that trends can be fun as long as you make them your own. Instead of viewing runway looks as nauseatingly pretentious and tediously mainstream, I now consider an exquisitely tailored Celine blazer and a beautifully undone Prabal Gurung cocktail dress to be incredibly dynamic works of art.

I am happy to report, however, that I still incorporate my past obsessions into current looks via whimsical headbands, colored hair sprays, and rock and roll motorcycle boots. My style is organic, constantly incorporating new elements and perspectives as I continue to develop my interests and inspirations. All the while, I try to maintain some element of my past in order to remain grounded and genuine to my former selves.

While I have yet to discover for myself a totally definable signature look, I feel at ease knowing that bits of my story emerge through my daily fashion selections. As I continue to develop my look over time, I would similarly encourage you, as you seek to express your own personality traits and eccentricities through fashion to analyze the evolution of your own style. By revisiting your (possibly) not so stylish past, you will have taken the first step towards discovering your uniquely fashionable future.


Sartorial Soul

The photos of Ty and Travis were selected from IMDB's "Clueless" photo gallery. Screenshots of Rayanne Graff were pulled from Tavi's amazing post about about "My So-Called Life" on her blog, style rookie: The photo of Jordan Catalano was found on korac's blog thirteen wishes. The Hole shots were found on the sites: Women in Rock, Bitten and Bound, The Kitchen Sisters, roweboat.org, and the music blog Music Is Amazing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dressing for the August Apocalypse

Chances are you’re reading this in the air conditioned comfort of your home or office, however, it wont be long before you will be forced to walk beneath the sweltering summer sun. And before you walk out the door, look in the mirror and ask yourself this, “Is my haute couture fuego friendly??”

Here are some cool tips that will help you survive the heat of an August Apocalypse while remaining fashion friendly:

#1: Come Hell or High Water
Let’s take what we’ve learned from the ghost of blog posts past and give your nerdy Khakis the Short Short/ Boat-Shoe treatment. Show off those ankles with a cropped or high-rolled hem. You’ll be cooler and transition to evening without a need to rush home and change.  *It may be too hot for socks, consider leaving them off (it’ll look better too).

"My favorite looks in the show were the first few school boy looks. Navy blazers and gray trousers shown with shirts and ties. The pants were rolled up slightly because of the collection's inspiration of the African heat, as if the British ex-pats had sent their kids to school in Kenya."—Madeline Weeks, GQ fashion director

#2: The Sky is Falling, So Wear a Hat

Boys, let your friendly Fedora provide some sweat-free swagger. Girls, top off that summer dress and let the shade follow you everywhere.

#3: Don’t Sweat it, You Aren’t Alone
Times up! now for your homework assignment. Grab a world map and draw a horizontal line across it, beginning with where you are living. These are the countries and culture that share a similar climate. Take note of how they handle the heat and make sure not to miss the fun fashion details…Everyone loves a citizen of the world.

#4: Is It All White?
You’ll either look cool and crisp in this light (and heat) reflecting non-color OR you’ll look like a wet t-shirt contestant from the Titanic, so be careful. Sometimes, that head-to-toe in white look (via Rachel) isn’t meant for the end of the world – not everyone’s a saint.
Boys, try some white pants. I know it may be a bit out of your comfort zone, it may be your first time, but who knows you may like it. If you’re going for a white top consider an undershirt. It may be an added layer, but sweat stains aren’t sexy on anyone -- even in hell. Girls, try combining Rachel's Sheer Genius look with her head-to-toe whites...you'll be turning heads for sure.

#5: No One Likes a Crybaby

…or a sweaty brow. Don’t get caught using your, or someone elses, sleeve to wipe away that slimy sweat as it trickles down your face. And if I see you grab for that cocktail napkin you better hope there's no tomorrow. If you are going to be outside for while, stay dry and civilized with this handy and fashionable tip: A cute bandana or proper hankie can make a fun accessory in a back pocket, tied around a bag handle or hidden in a purse. You’ll look stylish and prepared. How better to meet your maker?

Until next time Blog Buddies….


Friday, July 15, 2011

Maximum Impact

Each year, I anxiously anticipate Paris Couture Week with abundant appreciation for designers' showcasing of their optimum creativity and talent in the form of sculptural drama, larger than life ensembles, and towering headpieces. After viewing the annual collections, I am always overcome with an incredible urge to emulate the over-the-top looks as an homage to fashion in its highest form of art. To recreate the aesthetic of couture, however, is an incredibly difficult goal to accomplish without being involuntarily committed to a nearby mental hospital or mistaken for the queen of avant garde, Lady Gaga. 

After rummaging through my closet and (yet again) revisiting this year's most fabulous couture looks, I discovered that floor length gowns along with their less formal cousin, the maxi dress, evoke a similar curiosity and appreciation from passers-by (without inciting looks of horror) as does an artistically formed couture masterpiece a la Karl Lagerfeld. This phenomenon is most certainly due to the effect such a length has on the perception of the height of the body in addition to the copious amount of fabric, flowing and unabashed, upon which there can be found repeating prints intent on mesmorizing those who become lost in its theme or a large work of art, beckoning more than just a glance to decipher its monumental form.

Cecile Love earrings, aziz maxi dress

Giambattista Valli Fall 2011 Couture
Angie Harmon

Valentino Fall 2011 Couture  
Nicole Richie   
Armani Prive Fall 2011 Couture 
Street Style via Sartorialist
Chanel Fall 2011 Couture