Archive for the ‘Eff the couture’ Category

Scarves, no seriously

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

One of the beautiful things that comes out of recessions is a greater use of accessories.  With less money or inclination to expand one’s wardrobe, the well-dressed whatever turns to nails and legwear, hair and jewellery.  The current accessory toeing into the spotlight is scarves and neck accessories.

Illustrations from ‘Sewing Made Easy’, 1952

Miu Miu had its coy collars that remind me of the chapters in mid-twentieth century sewing and fashion books, where a lady is encouraged to expand her wardrobe with cheap and changeable collars and cuffs.  We’re not seeing cuffs yet, which is a pity, but even the summer looks of Resort 2011 struck a claim in that most mutable of accessories, the scarf.

Resort and menswear have been approaching the scarf cautiously, not straying too far from simple wraps and loops—though folks like Gaultier are playing with shapes that invoke the Empire/Regency cravat.  But, like any accessory, there’s an endless possibility in a scarf.  In the era of power dressing they were integral to dressing up or altering a look and taking it from office to evening.  Though it can be difficult to get a hold of classics like Scarf Tying by Judy Reiman, the great web does hold pockets of how-to’s that offer more options than a couple basic loops and twists.  Unfortunately, none share quite the perfect balance of clear instructions and priceless photography of the scarves in action (modelled by various Miss Calgaries) as Scarf Tying.

To get you started, here is an awkward quickie video tutorial for a simple option to try before playing with search terms.  Start with a larger square:

And you’ll end up with something like this:

It really pumps up a power suit
A lot of the scarves available at your local super-department like Fred Meyer or Target are of the long and loosely woven or square and fringed variety.  Thrift stores’ scarf bins—or, if you can sew, the remnant and discount bolt bins at sewing stores—have a sea of options that fulfil the classic silk-scarf style of easy drape and tighter weave.

Like Reiman says in Scarf Tying:

You too can look and feel like Cinderella at the ball without the help of a fairy godmother.  With creative scarf tying, your hands are magic wands.  A flick of the fingertips and a length of silk becomes a rose, a square of fabric appears as an evening gown.

Speaking of things styled for the wangus—

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

There is a bit of discussion over H&M offering skirts with their menswear for Spring 2010.  It is true that somebody is always trying to introduce skirts to menswear and it is going to make the blogs titter every time.  What is new is that it’s not some fancy-pants (skirt) designer who’s most outré pieces have no chance of trickling down to department ready-to-wear copies.  This is H&M, which—for cities that are not Portland—is as solid a source for clothing as Target is in the ‘burbs.

That there is no (apparent) feature of these skirts that differentiates them from styles sold regularly to women doesn’t really matter.  These are Skirts For Men, racked next to skinny jeans and blazers in the men’s section.  There will be no need to wander over to Juniors or Ladies and parse a different department’s sizing system, practising legit-sounding reasons for being there.  More folks who shop in the men’s department will try them on.

If the experiment fails, whatever, the seed has been planted. Once a style permeates the department stores it never really goes away.  Less classy/hep joints will begin picking it up. The process will rev the feedback cycle until, like cargo pants and babydoll tees, skirts in the men’s section are always represented to some degree—though every couple of years you may have trouble finding a style you like since the world’s gone obsessed with something else for the season.

Rodarte is apparently “the shit”

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I’m late on posting this, but hell, might as well finish the draft, get it out of the queue, new year and all.

Late December we went to one of the local Targets that was graced with the presence of some of Rodarte’s little capsule collection.

The situation and lighting was one where flash or no flash were equally annoying options, as far as getting clarity and detail.  These are quickie snapshots taken to get a point across.

There were dresses and bikinis and printed tees too, but I picked a couple of pieces that seemed best representative. I could not find the tights they made, which are pretty much just large pattern lace and I know Leg Avenue makes a variation in a thigh high.  All images link to Flickr pages that have more info.

Anyway, the piece I liked the most wasn’t even available online:

An inch longer and I would have got it

Quality-wise, if you like Target’s house brands (Mossimo Supply Co. and Merona, specifically), then you’ll have no problem with these pieces.  I personally am totally a fan of them, and found nothing wrong with all the little tulle/lingerie/lace fabric and treatment, nor the cardigans.

A couple pieces though, were victims of design and circumstance:

Oh, c'mon now

The tulle that works so well on the skirts comes off as itchy, snaggy and badly draped here.  Online reviews at Target say the fabric is as itchy as it looks and that the bows are not tacked, so they come undone and don’t go back very well.

It's kind of a meh piece anyhow

Well, it’s printed, so the inside remains white.  This is always a problem with prints, they might have been better off using a mustardy-yellow lace and printing black on it.  Inside felt scratchy,hung like crap—but that might have been a combination of the fabric and any residual size.

I wish they were carrying the socks they show in the looks. Closest equivalents at Sock Dreams are the Textured Stripe Knee High and fishnets over beige stockings, both raw-topped (cut the crotch top of the tights off so they’re just legs).

Overall I am remaining sceptically hopeful for Gaultier’s line, though it sounds like it is coming from a similar approach to what McQueen did—referencing “women and pop culture” instead of those things that made us love the designers in the first place.

Work it

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

With Labor Day fully come and gone and the various Fashion Weeks looming like the ghost of decades past, there is one old saw everyone can parrot: Don’t wear white (alternately, white shoes) after Labor day.  It’s a lie, like any hard and fast fashion rule—but it has totally got to be even more of a lie right now.  Three reasons:

  1. With the advent of, like, washing technology, you don’t need dark colours in the winter to cover mud stains and city soot.
  2. Neons are (still) hot stuff and white pops ’em like crazy town.
  3. Miami Vice

So, you are all like, “Wait a damn minute on the third point there” and people who know me are shaking their heads.  However, I can back that shit up and the whole point of this anyway is to talk a little about Miami Vice under the cover of Labor day and whites.

I'm still looking for a decent blazer.

Despite the candles I’ve lit and wishes I’ve made, the influences of the 80’s and 90’s are still with us.  Yes, those familiar pastels (and may I note that Miami Vice wasn’t all pastel, there were just no earth tones), though but one facet of those wild and crazy times, are still a legit chunk of our social genetic memory.  Therefore: applicable.

There is, of course, a level of personal joy in thinking of those jewel tones and beach dress whites glowing a little bit of Florida sun through the inevitable grey and rain of fall.

Sniggering is inevitable when discussing Miami Vice, though the sea change in fashion it brought still resounds today—


Yes.  Even after the first Monday in September.

Go go go

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I am, honestly, going to write about the last couple of fashion weeks beyond where you can get the legwear.  Today though, I’m gonna be all timely and shit.  Let’s set it up.

Last year I nearly pissed myself with joy when I discovered Target’s Go International line.  This was because they had a capsule line by Jovovich-Hawk, who I love inexplicably.  I then promptly fell in love with a couple of pieces, waited until the line was 75% off and bought a dress.  Because I am like that.

Anyhow, in November of last year, it was announced that Target was starting this new thing, Designer Collaborations—and that it was kicking off with Alexander McQueen.  By February, a fuller version of the looks popped up.  It was understandably toned down—inspired by Leila Moss, who is called a “90s Brit Rocker” (though her band doesn’t seem to extend that far back), the skinny pants paired with bulkier tops made sense.  Also, you know, Target, logical price point, design for all.

I was, and am, pretty stoked for this.  Beyond my love and respect for some designers, I don’t froth at the mouth about labels.  But I am interested in this “Design for All” thing, as it hints at a truly post-modern future for fashion.

So it is out today and is not heart-stopping—there are a lot of basics, one or two good pieces and something that makes your brain hurt.  And Blythe is involved somehow.  Nonetheless, there is a touch of the future in there.

And I am probably going to buy these when they are, inevitably, on clearance.

I am both embarrassed and proud of myself

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I cannot feel bad for abandoning you these past weeks, as all the usual suspects are doing nicely with the shows and really, I told you this wasn’t a place to keep up to date.  I’ve had my hands full doing a very, very nerdy thing.

I am, as I’ve noted, biased.  I think legwear, be it socks or tights or legwarmers, helps complete an outfit.  With makeup and hair, it frames and finishes a look.  Most designers these past couple of weeks seem to be favouring a bare leg, the silly gits.  Or they go for the plain canvas of a semi-sheer nylon, like what you can get at Fred Meyer or Target.  The rest seem to be clothing their models in tights,  but there are some who are having comparatively more fun.  I’m going to give you a bit of a cheat-sheet rundown, but first let me supply you with the basics.

Want tights?  There’s Foot Traffic Combed Cotton and E.G. Smith Leg Therapy. The first fits better and more folks, only one seam at the rear.  The second has more, and more vivid, colours, but if you’re not fan of the butt panel, then you might steer clear (they also have a history of not always making the legs the right length, or equal lengths, don’t even get me started).  Want the sleek microfiber look?  Then you want Erika Microfiber Tights, or there are stirrup and legging options.

Okay, that taken care of, let’s dig in after the jump.  Now, I’ll be adding as more trickle in, and God knows I’ve probably missed some. I’ve looked at maybe 150 slideshows of what walked the past couple of weeks, so you’ll have to forgive me and let me know what I did miss.

And sorry, darlings, no flyovers in these links. I would have just about died.
Honestly, I'm evenly split
F2009 RTW

AlbinoTights, lightly ribbed, semi-sheer: MP Lightly Ribbed Tights (grey).

Alessandro Dell’AcquaPossible toeless anklet, ribbed, sheer: still pondering if these are socks or shoe parts.

Alexander McQueenStocking vertical stripe; leather (could be attached to shoe)Vertical Stripe Thigh Highs (orange), Opaque Vertical Stripe.

Anna SuiTights, crochet pattern, psychedelic houndstooth, bright vertical stripes, irregular sparkle: Codori Crochet tights (black), or Liliana Crochet Luxury tight (black) nearly exact match; nothing like it for the houndstooth; closest match for the vertical would be Tights Striped Lengthwise; closest match for sparkle would be Lurex Shimmery thigh highs (gold/black).

Bottega VenetaAnkle height, slightly slouched: B. Ella Meg Unconstricted Top Crew (black), Flat Knit Bell Top Anklet (black).

Charles AnastaseMix of things,woven pattern tights, heathers, solids; loose striped or solid OTK/thigh high, also semi-sheer trouser sock: Kalana Wool Crochet tights (black) or Zurich Texture tightsFoot Traffic Combed Cotton (heather graphite), E.G. Smith Heathered Tights (heather graphite); Super Stripes (black & olive); June OTKs (caviar), Super Basics (black), O Woolies (black); B.Ella Trentata Trouser sock (espresso).

Christian LacroixTights, lace printed, gold and black: Bebaroque Tattoo Me or Betty.

Comme Des GarconsMidcalves under loose, seamed, beige/nude hose: nothing like it.

Dolce & GabbanaTights, possibly thigh high, black ruffle and gold ruffle backseam: Leg Avenue Lycra Mesh Thigh High with Ruffle Back Seam, closest match, out of stock at a lot of online shops.

Dsquared2Midcalf, slouchy; plain knee high (could be same sock for both): EG Eco Comfort Top Knee High (black), Luisa Comfort Top Knee High (caviar). Note: these two do not like staying up, so they will create that fallen-down slouch quite naturally.

Emporio ArmaniTrouser socks in knee high and midcalf: B.Ella Trentata Trouser sock (any), Heather Socklings (bark, slate grey); Flat Knit Bell Top Anklet (oxford grey).

House of HollandTights, extra-bold stripes with thinner white bands: nothing like it (Except I saw a girl on Killingsworth who had vaguely similar leggings, but damn if I don’t know where they came from.  I am hunting.)

Issey MiyakeLace printed, colour-block stripe tights/leggings: nothing like it.

Jager LondonThigh highs (possibly loose tights) neutral tones, contrast bands and foot: nothing like it.

Jean Paul GaultierTights, opaque and sheer duos; open net: Either Or Tights ; Warning Net Pantyhose.

LucellaTights, lurex: closest look would be Lurex Shimmery thigh highs (gold/black).

Marc Jacobs
Legging, fishnet: Lycra Seamless Fishnet Leggings (black).

Marc by Marc JacobsTights, wide striped; segmented bold stripe legwarmer; slouched, flat ribbed socks, possibly legwarmers:  closest match Cronert Wide Stripe OTKs (cobalt, orange); Ribbed Wool Legwarmers (black, ivory), Coco Turncuff Knee Highs (caviar), Harajuku Super Loose Socks (black, ivory, white),Cotton Slouch Socks (black, natural, white, dark red).

MarniTights, woolly or cotton patterned, plaid, offset diamondBlack and White Check Tartan tights.

Maurizio PecoraroTights or stockings, subtle flocked dot: Tabbio Polka Dot Tights, Betsey’s Flashy Dots Capri leggings , closest match.

Miu MiuTights, spangled: Nothing like it.

Paul Smith WomenTights and OTKs, heathered & fall tones: Foot Traffic Combed Cotton (heather mocha, heather graphite), E.G. Smith Heathered Tights (any), Plain Cotton Stockings (brown tweed), Lemonade Stockings (bittersweet brown).

PradaLoose, Slouched to knee thick ribbed (could be part of shoe): Harajuku Super Loose Socks (black, night grey).

Rebecca TaylorMid-calf, heathered: Heather Socklings (chambray, slate grey), EG Eco Comfort Top Crew (denim), Relaxed Top Anklet (denim), Flat Knit Bell Top Anklet (oxford grey).

RuffianTights, possible bodysuit, flocked or woven in dots: Tabbio Polka Dot Tights, Betsey’s Flashy Dots Capri leggings , closest match.

TaoAnkle socks (ruffled?) with pom-poms: Closest match (most pom pom socks currently made have pom at back) Lace Ruffle Anklets (white) or Ruffle Shorties (white) with Pom Pom sock garters (white).

Tracy ReeseThigh highs or OTKs, thick knit: O Woolies (black), Long Cuffable Scrunchables (black), Super Basics (black), OTK Tube Socks (black).

Vivenne WestwoodKnee high soccer style socks, various patterns; subtle opaque and sheer vertical stripedprinted sheer tights: no exact match on soccer socks, but Nike Centenario Game Sock, Dreamy Knee High Tube Socks; Kayla Stripe Trouser Sock (charcoal), Dobby Pinstripe Footless Tight; Tattoo Me, Betty, Roots and Smoke Print (grey).

Vivienne Westwood Red LabelKnee highs, semi-sheer trouser sock and thicker roll or comfort topsB.Ella Trentata Trouser sock (caviar, graphite); O Pastels (banana).

WunderkindTights, printed vertical & pattern block: nothing like it.

Y-3Mid-calf, black roll top: B. Ella Meg Unconstricted Top crew (black).

Zac PosenTights, large sparkle gradient in grey and red also a plain solid opaque cream, delicate fishnet and a knee high or OTK large-gague fishnet with seam in front worn over some: nothing like the sparkle gradient, maybe Zebra Lurex tights; B.Ella Refined Fishnet (any); the Fishnet Thigh Highs with Backseam which are tube-style and can worn ‘backwards’, also the Lace Up Fishnet Sock.

PF2009 (these two are important, when people want to copy legwear, 70% of the time it is these two)

Miu MiuLegwarmers, knee high, ribbed: Cronert Ribbed Arm/Leg warmers (anthracite grey), Foot Traffic Ribbed Knit legwarmers (charcoal).

PradaOTKs, ribbed, folded down: MP Ribbed Wool OTKs (black, grey).