Posts Tagged ‘faking it’

Nails are totes fashion, they’re the new Thing

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I’ve been blogging for work, which is part of the ages since posting here, but I also treat most posts on ILS like essays and start to panic if I don’t have enough data backing up observations.  I hope to get over that, but until then, I figured some pretty-pretty nail nerding could be appropriate.

If you follow me elsewhere on the web, you’ll know I do my nails every week and am very into the art and craft of it.  My personal nail icon is Sophy Robson, and one of her nail icons is Sharon Stone’s Ginger in Casino.

Because I am an obsessive, I recently screencapped Ginger’s more notable nails.  And then analysed them like a nerd and replicated them best I could with what I had in my stash.


Now, I don’t know if the makeup department or costume department or who is responsible for the on-point period nails, but they did amazingly.

A hustler’s nails in a creme electric pink.  When Ginger is manoeuvring to get money, she wears a crème.

The classic French tip, interpreted all foxy with a “v”.  If you have trouble creating a French tip’s smooth arch, you’ll find the two swoops to make this tip way easier.

This one was difficult to get a good cap of, but it’s a frosty, pearlescent white. Compare the cold feeling of the nail she wears with her “old pimp boyfriend” with the next nail—

It’s also frosty and pearlescent, but in a warm gold when Ace proposes. Dare I say the frosted nail is her emotional finish?

Oh, it gets nerdier.  I’ve got twelve screencaps in all, so I’ll be a gem and put them under this cut here.


Power Dressing (part one, of hopefully two)

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Sorry for the break in posting, folks.  I am trying to organise the irons I have in the fire—but hey!  Here’s another 1,300+ word post on what I consider relevant fashion issues.  Don’t worry, some of the irons in the fire are ‘lighter’ reading options for ILS.

I briefly mentioned power dressing last week, in context of scarves as accessories.  Now, power dressing—a very formalised approach to business attire that reached a peak in the mid to late 1980s—had textbooks of sorts, one both men and one for women, written in 1975 and 1977, respectively—Dress For Success and The Woman’s Dress For Success Book, both written by John T. Molloy.  He also wrote updates for each, some 15-20 years later.  Molloy’s approach was stridently research-based, as a consultant for unnamed big name corporations he’d built up seventeen years’ worth of data on clothing (nine in women’s clothing) by the time he was writing The Woman’s Dress For Success Book.  What is amazing is that this one man and his research team were part of the small group whose work snowballed into creating the look of the yuppie and, in doing so, further embedding subconscious and conscious class divisions that affect us to this day.  Here’s the opening of Molloy’s book for ladies:

This is the most important book ever written about women’s clothes because it is based on scientific research, not on opinion.

The advice in this book will help women make substantial gains in business and in their social lives.  It should also revolutionize their clothes-buying habits.

Most American women dress for failure.  I have said that before about men, and research shows that it applies equally to women.  Women dress for failure because they make three mistakes.

  1. They let the fashion industry influence their choice of business clothes.
  2. They often still view themselves mainly as sex objects.
  3. They let their socioeconomic background influence their choice of clothing.

The only reasonable alternative is for women to let science help them choose their clothes.[i]

I’m not even going to get into the paternalistic aspects of this, because using his data and word as law is something that is present in his book for guys as well (and because they’re endless and depressing).  As Molloy says himself later on in the same chapter—

It is a stark reality that men dominate the power structure—in business, in government, in education.  I am not suggesting that women dress to impress men simply because they are men.  My advice to women is based on the same principle as my advice to men: Your clothes should move you up socially and in business, not hold you back.[ii]

So, we’re going to ignore gems like “In summer women have always worn light and brightly coloured dresses to the office.  Do this only if you wish to be or remain a secretary.”[iii] and focus instead on the sea change in professional fashion Molloy encouraged with these two sentences:

There is one firm and dramatic step women can take toward professional equality with men. They can adopt a business uniform.[iv]

Illustrations from Molloy’s The Woman’s Dress For Success Book’, 1977.

Expectations of “The Man”

Based on his own numbers, Molloy began gathering his data on influential business dress in 1960.  A generally turbulent cultural time, to say the least, there was a growing relaxed attitude among youth in regards to clothing.  “The values expressed by the business suit no longer matched those of the typical college student”[v].  Though those already firmly entrenched in the business world valued the suit and the status inherent in a good suit, the new blood was rocking bright jackets and fanciful ties in their leisure and formal wear[vi] and were most probably not making the best impressions with corporate.  In his research, showing pictures and photographs of folks in different ensembles to CEOs, Molloy was most probably finding that the older men, the decision makers, wanted suits and “authoritative” looks.

Running through guides like Molloy’s was the sharp awareness of clothing’s ability to portray the wearer as someone of and with power.  Here’s one more of his gems:

At one large corporation someone asked what I thought a woman should do if the boss sent her for coffee.  My response was, “If you have to tell your boss not to send you for coffee, you must have already told him nonverbally that you were ready to go.”

I went on to say that the problem was being approached from the wrong perspective.

Women who want to be taken seriously and who want to succeed must dress in a way that says, “I am important.  I am a business professional and don’t you dare send me for coffee!”

There were two extremely successful women in the room at the time.  Both agreed with me.  And they said the reason most young women wouldn’t succeed was because they didn’t look like they wanted to succeed.[vii]

Reinforcement through style guides

Molloy wasn’t the only one aware of this.  Armloads of guides on dressing were popping up in the mid to late 1970s as part of the reaction against the “anything goes” stylings of the 1960s and in response to the influx of professional women workers who were searching for some way to get a foot up the corporate ladder.  They ranged from articles in Newsweek and women’s mags[viii] to tomes like Elegance: A Guide to Quality Menswear by Bruce Boyer, referenced oh so nicely in the time capsule American Psycho.

You’re a clod.  It’s an excellent book.  His theory remains we shouldn’t feel restricted from wearing a sweater vest with a suit,” I say.  “Did you hear me call you a clod?”


“But doesn’t he point out that a vest shouldn’t overpower the suit?”  Van Patten offers tentatively.

“Yes . . .” I’m mildly irritated that Van Patten has done his homework but asks for advice nonetheless.  I calmly continue.  “With discrete pinstripes you should wear a subdued blue or charcoal gray vest.  A plaid suit would call for a bolder vest.”

“And remember,” McDermott adds, “with a regular vest the last button should be left undone.”

I glance sharply at McDermott.  He smiles, sips his drink and then smacks his lips, satisfied.[ix]

What began as aspirational dressing and a search for a uniform was honed through the guides into as complex a set of rules as had been followed at the turn of the century.  Limitations on colours, cut, pattern, material were the heavy skeleton a person’s business wardrobe was built on.  The rules were the rules, even if they didn’t apply to you.  Research and the guides said that glasses created a stronger sense of authority[x], so one wore “non-prescription Oliver Peoples redwood-framed glasses,”[xi] or some equivalent.

Overwhelming assimilation of style

Conveniently, changes in suit fabric manufacture were making the designer suit more accessible to the common man.  In the 1970s Italian textile industries began switching from high virgin wool content to using waste wool, creating a cheaper suit fabric that “accommodated the fashion industry whereby new collections, new ideas, new colours and new patterns are presented each season.”[xii] Between 1975 and 1985 the profits of men’s ready-to-wear increased 12%, and in the 1980’s all major designer’s houses were carrying a men’s line.[xiii]

The awareness of fashion labels that began in the 1970s (with denim, funnily enough[xiv]), the availability—or seeming availability— of the clothing, “a swing back to the political right”[xv] and a money boom that had combined with credit to make everything seem possible all mixed together in a power shake that coloured the 1980s in suits and immobile hair and brand names.  You either Were or you Weren’t.  The soft steps towards blurring the class lines were halted.  Sure, one could “cross-shop”, but the objective was still to buy clothes that “come across as upper middle class.”[xvi]

Of course, when a mass of society and fashion push one way, there will be a faction pushing against, and oh dang the things that were created to be anti-suit!  Creativity and risk-taking styles are better as retaliation, and if you look, the highs of fashion and the arts are commonly seen when one side is reacting against another.  Each group spurs the other into higher and higher caricature as they refine themselves to a pure thesis.

So, I acknowledge that other things besides power dressing were going on in the 1980’s.  And it was exactly that, combined with some more worldly affairs, that left the power suit stranded on the pedestal of caricature.

[i] The Woman’s Dress For Success Book, John T. Molloy, 1977. p. 15-16

[ii] Molloy p. 32

[iii] Molloy p. 66

[iv] Molloy p. 34

[v] Fashion and Its Social Agendas, Diana Crane, 2000. p.175


[vii] Molloy p. 26-27

[viii] “One magazine ran a piece on “power dressing.”  Another reported on how women were being advised to “dress the trip to the top.”  And a third discussed how “clothes mean business,” . . . Fashion Power, Jeanette C. Lauer, Robert H. Lauer, 1981. p. 163 & 170

[ix] American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis, 1991. p. 154-155

[x] Molloy p. 88

[xi] Ellis p. 109

[xii] Men’s Fashion in the Twentieth Century, Maria Costantino, 1997. p. 127

[xiii] Costantino p. 121-123

[xiv] Costantino p. 111

[xv] Costantino p. 127

[xvi] Molloy p. 171

Quickie Steal: Marc Jacobs socks

Monday, June 7th, 2010

In acknowledgement of the shoe+sock trend, W magazine dressed the models in Marc Jacobs flats and Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs crews for one of their spreads in the June issue (and in one slide in another spread).

Details from W Magazine’s “Sweater Girl” styled by Alex White

The socks are simple ones, flat knit with a “comfort top” (tall ribbed cuff). Here are two styles that serve the same look, for significantly less dollars and hassle:

Bastia Comfort Top Crew, in Denim

EG Eco Comfort Top Crew, in Linen

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).

We are what we’re made of

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I was one of several folks totally panting for the menswear in Alexander McQueen’s F2009 show.  And while the clothes are made of yes and form an interesting contrast to other things we’re seeing, it was the make-up that got my brain clicking.

photo: Marcio Madeira

The red ringing beneath the eyes, set off by that winter pallor?  Absolutely villainous and surprisingly a long standing part of my eye make-up rotation.  Also totally something that most people cover up and don’t do on purpose.

In Feburary’s W, there’s a short piece on Ellis Faas, with a quote that brought it all together for me.

“Why not take the purple in a bruise and use it as an eye colour?  It’s a very natural thing to do.”

Faas, a former special effects artist with lots of bruises and cuts under her belt, calls it “Human Colours“.  I think it’s, like, a beautiful circle (though it’s probably more of a hearkening to something quite different) that on the front page there’s an image with the same under-eye red seen on McQueen’s runway.


Make-up traditionally covers up and/or distracts from that what you don’t want shown, emphasises that which you do.  In the expanding culture of coolness—where you can buy things that make it look like you spent time and pain under the tattooist’s needle or dedication in stretching your piercings—make-up like Shiner (one of the many soc-cultural gems in Spike’s Templar, Arizona) doesn’t seem too out of line.  We’re wanting to emphasise something different.

I know my paltry collection of colour, in bruised purples and blues, sallow yellows and lip tone nudes already align with the idea of “Human Colour”, despite my originally buying them for their brightness and darkness.  Now I just need to play with it more.  Nothing however, will tear me away from my red.

I really do love it