Weekend Style Inspiration

The Kimono

Estate sale kimono jacket

Estate sale kimono jacket

I bought a custom-made kimono jacket two years ago at an estate sale in the Hollywood Hills and wore it for New Year’s Eve. My husband and I had seen the notices about the sale for weeks in the neighborhood, and had talked about the pros and cons of going, venturing in at last on the final day. I’d always enjoyed visiting thrift and consignment stores in the hopes of finding that special treasure. But an estate sale was new territory because this was someone’s home.

Once inside the house, I realized that the owners were only too happy to have strangers buy up the possessions they’d left behind. So my husband and I split up. He made his way methodically around the large villa while I headed for the master bedroom. In the walk-in closet there were many tops and pants and jackets, along with several traditional silk kimonos. But as far as I was concerned, there was only one prize: a cream and gold brocade kimono jacket. I slipped it on over my shirt. Any hesitation I might have had, while contemplating buying such a fanciful garment, came away under the shower of encouraging remarks from several women, hunting for their treasure, in the same walk-in closet. This season, the kimono is in the spotlight-a trend I’m happy to embrace.

Spring 2015 Fashion Week; photo Tommy Ton

Spring 2015 Fashion Week; photo Tommy Ton

Susie Bubble; photo Phil Oh

Susie Bubble; photo Phil Oh

Eva Fontanelli; photo Sartorialist

Eva Fontanelli; photo Sartorialist

photo Sartorialist

photo Sartorialist

Spring 2015 Fashion Week; photo Harpersbazaar

Spring 2015 Fashion Week; photo Harpersbazaar

Giovanna Battaglia; photo Harpersbazaar

Giovanna Battaglia; photo Harpersbazaar

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Essays and Musings

Why Breaking the Fashion Rules Matters

In the mix: winter and summer - Vintage silk dress, feather scarf, Rodo wicker bag

In the mix: winter and summer – vintage silk dress, feather scarf, Rodo wicker bag

Why don't you wear a MM6 Maison Martin Margiela corduroy motorcycle jacket over a vintage silk cocktail dress and carry a vintage Walborg bag?

Why don’t you… MM6 Maison Martin Margiela corduroy motorcycle jacket, vintage silk cocktail dress, Walborg bag

Nora Ephron gave a commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1996 and said something I’ve cherished. “Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.” This statement occurs to me each time I look in my closet, tasked with finding something to wear. Unlike many of my peers, I missed out as a child on experimenting with fashion. I was never one of those kids, who on the path to self-expression, masterfully paired clashing items of their wardrobe to create an improbably chic outfit. My sisters and I were closed off from this creative process: we wore a uniform every day from kindergarten through to eighth-grade. In the Catholic school atmosphere we grew up in, there was no room for sartorial experimentation.

A direct consequence of my uniform years is that, as a teenager and college student, I abided by the fashion rules. A lady doesn’t wear white after Labor Day; she matches her bag to her shoes; she doesn’t show her knees past a certain age; a lady avoids black, white and pants when attending a wedding. But rather than finding comfort in my execution of the rules, I often felt insecure in whatever I had on. I didn’t take any joy in getting dressed. Wearing all white in the summer made me uneasy, as did wearing dresses to weddings. In college, I didn’t understand why it wasn’t socially acceptable for a woman to wear a jumpsuit or even pants to formal events. Then, in my late twenties, when I was about to become a bride, I was cautioned on all sides against the color black and dressing in pants.

At this point, I knew it was time to rebel and break the rules: I wanted to be the bride who wore both black and pants. I also wanted to experiment with oppositions, combining those colors and fabrics that are conventionally seen as incompatible:  purple with burnt orange, burnt orange with green, navy with black, brown with grey, velvet with brocade, tweed with chiffon, and floral prints with military separates. And while we’re at it, why not mix winter fabrics with summer fabrics? And layer a tough chic motorcycle jacket over a ladylike dress? Let’s incorporate feathers and sequins into a traditional daytime look. But contrast and opposition are not ladylike. And society places a great deal of pressure on women to dress appropriately. In her commencement address, Nora Ephron, a rule breaker, recognized that women are encouraged to follow convention, to avoid taking risks, to be ladies.

Like Ephron, Loulou de la Falaise was the kind of woman who never bothered with the rulebook. A bohemian with whimsical style, de la Falaise met Yves Saint Laurent in 1968 and became his lifelong muse and collaborator.  A jewelry designer for the Saint Laurent house, she once described her style in a Guardian interview as tomboy gypsy.  In refusing to conform to various fashion decrees, de la Falaise was extraordinarily stylish. Shortly after her death in 2011, Hamish Bowles wrote in Vogue, “she provided a walking embodiment of what real style-personal, quirky, unexpected, inspiring-could be.”

It seems to me, that not following the fashion rules matters because in the process of jettisoning certain dictates and trends, you arrive at a point of discovery.  It’s a moment in which you come to recognize what it is you truly admire about fashion. It’s not rebelliousness for the sake of rebelling; breaking the fashion rules is far more complicated than that. When a woman wears what’s unexpected she demonstrates a fearlessness that’s both empowering and engaging. Because breaking the rules is honest-a woman is being true to her own unique style-and that’s awfully courageous.

Loulou de la Falaise

Loulou de la Falaise, Vogue 1970; photo Richard Avedon

Loulou de la Falaise with Yves Saint Laurent; photo Guy Marineau

with Yves Saint Laurent; photo Guy Marineau

Loulou de la Falaise

circa 2008; Rizzoli has just released the first monograph detailing the life and work of Loulou de la Falaise

 

 

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Weekend Style Inspiration

Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders is now sixty-two and has just released her first solo album entitled “Stockholm.” She’s a girl from Ohio who moved to London when she was twenty-two. Whether she wore a classic white t-shirt and jeans or lace, Hynde epitomized rock chic. A vegetarian and animal rights activist, she is one of my favorite rock icons who’s maintained an inspiring personal style thoughout her career. Read about what she’s learned in The Guardian.

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Irving Plaza, New York City, 1994; photo Ebet Roberts

Irving Plaza, New York City, 1994; photo Ebet Roberts

London, 1995; photo David Sims

London, 1995; photo David Sims

London, 2007; photo Dave Hogan/Getty Images

London, 2007; photo Dave Hogan/Getty Images

photo Dean Chalkley

photo Dean Chalkley

 

 

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Essays and Musings, The Four Seasons of Vintage

Heroine Chic: Some Thoughts on the Blouse

Lauren Bacall,1944; photo Everett Collection/Rex

Lauren Bacall, 1944; photo Everett Collection/Rex

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

In the classic Hollywood movies I watched growing up, the blouse was the wardrobe staple of the heroine. As a teenager, I was fascinated by the clothing I saw on film. Even if my life in a small New England town didn’t bear any resemblance to the lives of the stars, my plan in closely observing the heroine was to learn how to dress like one. And so, when my sisters and I would go shopping at the designer discount chain T.J.Maxx, more often than not, I gravitated to the racks of blouses. Tucked into a skirt or worn with pants, long-sleeved or sleeveless, the blouse managed to look both elegant and cool.

In high school, I participated in regional and state student council, and as secretary, I thought wearing a blouse would be the best way to convey my competence. For an after school job, I worked at the local bank, where many of the female executives arrived dressed in skirt suits, paired with white or jewel-tone satin blouses. While reading the employee manual one day, I decided the blouse fit the description of “professional attire” and was the ideal choice for my part-time position as a teller.

I have little doubt that my attraction to the blouse as an emblem of sophistication is due in large measure to Lauren Bacall. What strikes me most in considering those images of her in a blouse is how self-possessed and capable she looked. In her many roles as the heroine, Bacall projected a heady seductiveness that famously blended outspokenness with ironic humor. She was the kind of heroine who made me believe that in speaking her mind, a woman could be both tough and sexy. This projection of strong femininity seems as glamorous to me now as it did when I was a young woman, just beginning to experiment with fashion.

Of course, my hometown in Central Massachusetts was a far cry from the settings that Bacall’s heroines found themselves in. And the silk blouses I owned in the 1980s, with their towering shoulder pads and full sleeves, didn’t fit impeccably like those the iconic actress wore. Even though I currently live in Los Angeles (not too far from Hollywood) nothing’s changed: I still gravitate to 80s blouses when I go vintage shopping in whatever city I happen to find myself in. But now I have a tailor. She snips out the pads and reshapes the sleeves to give me the look of a modern day heroine.

Vintage silk blouse;bag;1990s Chanel turnlock necklace; Vintage Paco Rabanne cuff

Vintage silk blouse; 90s Chanel turnlock necklace; vintage Paco Rabanne cuff; Winfried Kralle vintage embossed bag

Silk wood print blouse

80s Levante silk wood print blouse; 60s unsigned necklace; Hermès Kelly long wallet as clutch

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Weekend Style Inspiration

The Tomboy

The tomboy is the perfect mix of masculine/feminine dressing, as the iconic women of Hollywood knew so well. The knack of tomboy dressing is in the details:  the juxtaposition of menswear tailoring with feminine touches like accessories, silk and colorful leather. Oh, and don’t forget the fringe. Street style photographer Tommy Ton captured some of my favorite contemporary tomboys during the many weeks of the Spring 2015 fashion shows.

Grace Kelly; photo, Pinterest

Grace Kelly; photo Pinterest

Katherine Hepburn; image Pinterest

Katherine Hepburn; photo Pinterest

Audrey Hepburn, Rome 1958

Audrey Hepburn, Rome 1958; photo Vanity Fair

Jackie Onassis; photo Ron Galella

Jackie Onassis

 

Ada Kokosar

Ada Kokosar

On the street

On the street

 

Barbara Martelo

Barbara Martelo

 

 

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Eva Fontanelli

Eva Fontanelli

Caroline de Maigret

Caroline de Maigret

 

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Essays and Musings

What I’ve Learned from Charlotte Rampling

circa 1970 - Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

circa 1970 – photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

photo, Woman's Wear Daily

circa 1984 – photo by Michel Maurou/WWDaily Archive

For some years now I’ve been interested in the process of aging and in dressing appropriately for the part. This could be a direct result of having turned forty, three years ago. As I write this, forty-four is only three months away. But if I’m honest, I’ve always been curious about age. My childhood relationship with my grandparents is most likely to blame. I was fascinated by their customs and manner of dress far more than I was by the youth culture of my peers. When I think back to the older women who I admired and with whom I forged friendships in my twenties and thirties, they all seemed to have in common a certain kind of aura. The disparity in our ages lent them a knowledge and sophistication about the world, that was as yet, inaccessible to me. And so in a strange reversal, I saw older age as full of potential, while regarding youth as the state you tolerated in order to arrive at actual living.

In photos, the iconic actress Charlotte Rampling seemed to be the kind of woman who held the answers to so many of life’s questions. In her early career she wore dresses and was famous for often wearing nothing at all. She’s the kind of woman of a certain age who’s okay with imperfection, turning it on its head into an allure. I’ve learned from her that a tuxedo can be both feminine and sexy if it suits your personal style.

It seems to me, there’s a privilege and a power in aging gracefully. Unfortunately, in most of the Western world women are encouraged to hide the signs of age through injections and plastic surgery. But Charlotte Rampling has continued to be successful in her career by consciously choosing not to alter her appearance. Aside from her most recent TV role as Dr. Vogel on “Dexter,” Rampling, at sixty-eight, is also the face of Nars cosmetics. I’ve learned from her that the decision to forgo a youthful physical perfection takes great self-awareness and not a small amount of chutzpah. In her words:

This is the face that I’ve earned. This is the face that is me now. And if I’m going to carry on in the film business, I’m just going to watch my face grow older. I’m not going to change it in any sense. I said to myself, “The challenge now, if I want to stay in films, is just to watch your face growing older. That’s got to be damn interesting. That’s got to be quite daring, because you can start to do things.”

Here’s to beginnings…

Read the full conversation at Interview Magazine

photo Getty Images

photo Getty Images

Photo Nars

photo Nars

 

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The Four Seasons of Vintage

A Report in October

A display of vintage jewelry and accessories

A display of vintage jewelry and accessories – Recess, Los Angeles

A rack of gowns

A rack of gowns – Recess, Los Angeles

Dead stock Todd Oldham and Chanel shoes

Dead stock Todd Oldham and Chanel shoes – Recess, Los Angeles

Each year around this time my thoughts turn to those wardrobe items that land squarely outside of the staples. I start to long for capes and feathers, or for the combination of the two. Three years ago, I came home from a vintage expo with a burgundy feather scarf. Last year, I bought a 1950s black ostrich feather cape at my favorite vintage shop in Burbank, Playclothes. When I set eyes on it I knew it would be my closet’s version of the jean jacket: a timeless classic with attitude. Over my life I’ve owned three wool capes. The first, a brightly colored plaid number, a childhood favorite; the second, earth-tone plaid and trimmed in leather; the third, light grey, baby doll style, with three large silver buttons running down the front. I purchased the latter two in my mid-thirties when I was out on one of my first excursions in Los Angeles. Though some years have passed since I owned these wool capes (they were long ago routed from my closet) today was no different: I fell in love with a charcoal grey cape.

I had first made my way around the local consignment shop called Recess, looking through the orderly racks of shoes, tops, pants, dresses and coats, while chatting with the owner, Marie Monsod, a vintage dealer with a particular love of Japanese designers. When it comes to dressing, I’ve long admired the overlapping of the old with the new. The mixture of vintage items with contemporary clothing lends an outfit a thread of the familiar. What makes vintage special in my eyes is the ease and steadiness of old objects. A walk through Recess brings you into contact with the best vintage pieces at modest prices. These pieces hang comfortably alongside sharply discounted, gently worn contemporary designers like McQueen, YSL and Celine.

After spotting the cape, I settled on a green print Balenciaga sweater to try on. It seemed the more sensible choice of the two items. I’d certainly get greater use out of it, I reckoned. But I kept coming back to the cape and was soon building a narrative: I would wear it out in the evenings over my many vintage blouses and cigarette pants, I could wear it casually on road trips up the coast to the beach. I imagined strolling with my husband along the boardwalk, protected from the wind in my cape as we looked at the stars. I envisioned the fabric swinging elegantly with each step.

Marie pointed out that the cape, by a contemporary designer, had never been worn and still had the original price tag attached. A consignment shop is a dangerous place if a person is looking to avoid adding to their possessions, and the truth is, I came close to returning home with the cape. After all, it was the perfect example of something new needing to find a home surrounded by the past.

1950s ostrich cape

1950s ostrich cape

Feather scarf

Feather scarf

Contemplating in the dressing room

A moment of contemplation in the dressing room

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Weekend Style Inspiration

Uniform Dressing

I’ve always admired women who know what they like to wear and stick with it day in and day out. My uniform is slim pants with vintage blouses and a piece of statement jewelry. Whether she wore dresses or pants, Audrey Hepburn was always in well-tailored shapes that flattered her dancer’s silhouette.  Two contemporary women who know how to work a signature look are Carine Roitfeld, former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and Emmanuelle Alt, current Vogue Paris editor-in-chief. Roitfeld is the epitome of flawless chic, preferring well-fitted skirts and shirts to pants while Alt favors a lean silhouette that accentuates her lanky frame.

image via Rex

Roitfeld; image via Rex

Roitfeld; image Sartorialist

Roitfeld; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Sartorialist

Alt; image Tommy Ton

Alt; image Tommy Ton

Rome, 1958 Pierre Cardin dress

Rome, 1958 Pierre Cardin dress; image Vanity Fair

Rome, 1968  Rose Berlin Coat

Rome, 1968 Rose Bertin coat; image Vanity Fair

Rome, 1970 Valentino Couture coat

Rome, 1970 Valentino Couture coat; image Vanity Fair

With Givenchy

With Givenchy; image via Pinterest

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The Four Seasons of Vintage

Fall

Vintage Jaeger Polka Dot blouse with Chanel turn lock necklace

Vintage Jaeger polka dot blouse with 90s Chanel turn lock necklace

Vintage Ungaro Blazer

Vintage Ungaro blazer

Ten years ago my husband came home from work one day and asked me how I felt about California. I wasn’t surprised. He’d been looking for a new job in academia, a word defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the scholastic life.” The new job he wanted was at UCLA in the Art History Department. But he didn’t necessarily want to move out of New York. At the time, he couldn’t imagine living in any other city, and friends warned about the West Coast with its dizzying temperate climate. I couldn’t wait to move. I wanted to experience swimming outdoors in the sunshine year round, and the lack of any need for pantyhose. “But how can you be sure you want to move?” my husband cautioned. “You’ve never visited California and are a product of the East Coast. You don’t even know how to drive.”

It’s true: after college I moved to New York City, living there for years with my husband. When we first arrived together in the early nineties we lived in SoHo. We had a railroad apartment on the fifth floor of a five-floor walk up. In the summer the one bedroom apartment baked under the black-tarred roof from where we had a view of the water towers.  You could see the corner of 6th Avenue from the living room.

I won’t lie. I didn’t drive, never really needed to. All the same, I was happy to move. Moving felt right: the right time of my life to relocate to a new and exciting city, the right time to change all my familiar habits and routines, the right time to become a brighter version of myself. One of the biggest challenges was a sartorial one. It required redefining how I saw the seasons – getting used to the idea of fall as a hot and dry season rather than as a cool and breezy one, experiencing winter and spring with lots of sunlight, and early summer as cool and cloudy.

Ten years after moving to Los Angeles, I have my own car, but what’s more, I’ve mastered the skill of dressing for the seasons.  It’s officially fall so I’m wearing a light cotton fabric for day and adding a heavier cotton layer for night. I couldn’t be more pleased with the move to California.

A Fall outfit ready to go with Hermes Kelly long wallet as clutch. Just add bottoms of your choice....

A fall outfit ready to go with Hermès Kelly long wallet as clutch. Just add bottoms of your choice….

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Personal Style

Tamu McPherson

via StreetPeeper

via StreetPeeper

Tamu is the Milan based street style photographer behind All the Pretty Birds. I’m always inspired by her style that fearlessly blends color and print, two things I’ve been working on incorporating into my personal repertoire.

Here is a great video in which she shares her thoughts on all things fashion.

For more on Tamu’s style go to Vogue Italia here

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