TShirtMakovers_CoverWe all love our t-shirts but sometimes they could use a little pop. To help us out, New York City based fashion designers, Carmia Marshall and Carmen Webber  (former Project Runway contestant) have just published a book with scads of DIY ideas for refashioning and refreshing the tee.

T-Shirt Makeovers: 20 Transformations for Fabulous Fashions (Glitterati Incorporated) includes instructions on how to take your comfy t-shirt and turn it into something super chic and fun.

Ms. Marshall and Ms. Webber open the book discussing:

  • body type and how to take your measurements
  • color and what works for different skin shades
  • and the various styles of t-shirts.

The writing duo also includes a very important chapter called Quick Tee Makeover Tips, which reminds us of some sewing basics such as ironing out wrinkles before getting started, the right and wrong sides of fabric, different pin types, and Cutting Rules.

“Once you cut, there’s no turning back! Cutting mistakes are costly and irreversible.”

IMG_0476Each set of instructions has a list of what you need and a difficulty level, from pretty easy with no sewing machine to challenging, like the Deep V-neck with Ruffled Sleeve Dress – a dress make of three oversized tees.  

I tried the Simple Scoop Top and had it done in an hour. I started by taking my measurements and plugged those into the instructions before doing any cutting. I found that part to be a little unclear so I suggest a choosing a practice tee. Once I got past the measurements it was easy going.

My favorite part of this particular design is the sleeves. I cut up the middle of each one and the tied extra fabric, cut from the bottom of the tee, into a bow at the top. This creates movement and style to what was once a dull cap sleeve.

IMG_0479In fact, it’s the reinvented sleeves that I like most about many of the designs by Ms. Marshall and Ms. Webber and in the Visual Glossary there are illustrations of various sleeve styles. What a handy guide just for general fashion knowledge!

I think refashioning t-shirts is a great way for beginner designers as well as novice seamstresses to let loose with the scissors and think creativity. T-Shirt Makeovers: 20 Transformations for Fabulous Fashions helps lead our way.




MV5BMTYxOTMwMjg5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjExMjE2MQ@@__V1_SY317_CR8,0,214,317_It’s kind of a charmed situation. Anything that is associated with Marc Jacobs instantly becomes popular. It’s sort of the combination of extremely beautiful, extremely unpretentious, and extremely hip. I mean, the cachet is extraordinary.

- Novelist Francine Prose speaking about fashion designer Marc Jacobs in the documentary film, Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton.



Woman with Fur Trim Hood STOCK PHOTO

Unfashionable woman in fur-trimmed coat. Photo courtesy of Born Free USA.

Many years ago a vintage fur coat was handed down to me from a distant relative. Even then I was anti-fur in fashion, however, I did wear it once and … felt a fool. So I decided to put the coat on consignment at a local vintage clothing store and give the money I made to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.

That was the best option I had at the time but what I really wanted to do was give the fur back to the animals. Sounds crazy, I know.

Or maybe not. Now, thanks to Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, we can give fur back. Born Free USA is running a donation drive called Fur for the Animals. The drive is collecting coats, hats, and other garments made from animal fur and donating them to wildlife animal rescue rehabilitation centers around the country. The centers use the fur to provide comfort and familiarity to young injured and sick wildlife in their care.


Consider the source of fur.

According to Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “Animal trapping and fur farming are not only barbaric to animals but also are horrifying public safety and environmental issues. One of our key organizational campaigns is to reduce the supply, demand, and social acceptance of fur and end the cruelest forms of trapping in America. Our ‘Fur for the Animals’ drive offers a simple solution to the compassionate question Born Free USA often receives: “what can I do with this old fur?” Consumers and retailers across the globe are going fur-free and we applaud each and every one of them!” 

Fur for the Animals runs now through May 30, 2014.


Donations can be dropped off or shipped to the following places:

Born Free USA, 2300 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Born Free USA, 1220 H Street, Suite 103, Sacramento, CA 95820

Click here for more information.

Do you have a fur something or other that has come your way? Why not give it back to the animals?

Thank you, Born Free USA for giving us the opportunity to put fur fashion to good use.






untitledI’ll never forget what wonderful Edna Chase, the doyenne - the goddess – the former of taste, discretion and elegance – sending a memo to us in the bombing, that she noticed we weren’t wearing hats and she didn’t approve that we dyed our legs and made lines up the backs to simulate stockings – (Britain had no nylons until the US Air Force brought them in as rich presents) – and I happened to be in charge of the office that day, though it was none of my affair to answer the boss, I sent a cable in my own name: We have no ration coupons and no nylon stockings anyway. The next week every member of the staff was sent three pairs.

- Lee Miller, (1907-1977) American fashion model, photographer, and war correspondent for Vogue magazine (WWII).

This quote is from a letter Ms. Miller sent to her brother during the London Blitz (German bombing of the city), happening in the early years of World War II. At the time she was living in London with the artist/photographer Roland Penrose and working for Vogue as a fashion photographer. Later she traveled to the Continent as a war correspondent, also for Vogue.

I’ve been fascinated with Ms. Miller ever since I attended the exhibit The Art of Lee Miller at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I was and continue to be captivated by the many facets of her artistic talents.

Currently I’m reading Lee Miller in Fashion, by Becky E. Conekin.

BTW, Edna Chase was the editor in chief of Vogue from 1914-1952. She’s also quite a story.


Image courtesy of Reminisce Magazine.

It’s been 50 years since the miniskirt first hit the fashion scene and Reminisce magazine is celebrating.

Back in the late 1950s, British designer Mary Quant had been slowly raising the hemlines of her designs, inspired by the idea of easier movement for women. Over the years her customers kept saying, shorter, shorter, and Ms. Quant obliged. By the mid-1960s models such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton caught on, and the mini (aptly named by Ms. Quant after her favorite car, the Mini Cooper) became the international trend of the era.

The reinvented skirt brought along other fashion staples:

  • Pantyhose, which meant no more stockings, girdles or garters. (Suddenly, young woman were more comfortable and free to move about the world.)
  • Colored tights, now a wardrobe must
  • Low-heel and flat shoes
  • Boots!

Before long the miniskirt developed into much more than an article of clothing. It symbolized the many shifts happening for women at the time –  feminism, liberation, and rebellion.

I read all about the miniskirt in Reminisce, a bimonthly nostalgia magazine. In addition to historical articles (many about fashion), Reminisce is filled with personal essays and photos about everyday American life from the 1900s through the 1970s. Most of the content is written by readers and include stories about parents and grandparents, siblings and themselves. Stories about how they met their spouse, school day happenings, family road trips, and other interesting slices of life. I say Reminisce is a great resource for writers, history buffs, vintage fashion enthusiasts, collectors, and anyone who appreciates a good story.

One of my favorite recent articles is titled Job With A View written by Lynn Hartz, who worked as an airline stewardess in the 1960s. Ms. Hartz shares with readers what it was like to work in the industry when travel and flying were still exotic and glamorous. Included in the article are lots of photos of various airline uniforms, showing how they changed with the fashions over the decades (hemlines going from mid-calf to way above the knee.)

Check out Reminisce online.

untitledOh lord, I was afraid Jeeves would take against that hat. Now we’re in for a clash of wills … he’s such an old sticker for the rules of current dress in public for me. If I ever want to cut a dash and sport a little something in keeping with advanced modern thought, Jeeves turns cold and disapproving and I eventually wilt and let him have his way. But dammit, the Alpine hat will stay!

- Bertie Wooster, 1930s man-about-London Town and fictional character of P.G. Wodehouse. (Quote from the novel Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.)

Last week fashion designer L’Wren Scott took her own life. The imposing former model (she was 6’3″) hung herself in her NYC apartment, with a black silk scarf attached to a doorknob. According to one police officer at the scene, hanging by doorknob is not uncommon and proves to be an effective method. Reportedly, the scarf was one from her own line.


L’Wren Scott design from Spring 2014.

Ms. Scott started a women’s clothing line in 2006 and became an instant success with celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker. But it seems, sadly, her designs were less appealing to the average woman as the business was failing and, according to Cathy Horyn, fashion journalist and friend of Ms. Scott, she was soon to announce its closure.

Of course there has been a lot of talk about why the designer, known for her effervescence, ended her life. Was it the failing business? Her long-time relationship with Mick Jagger? Depression? The media hasn’t mentioned it, but some followers of the story have suggested that perhaps it wasn’t suicide but instead something sexual gone amiss. No one really wants to venture there, including me.

It’s not why in general that has me pondering, it’s why the scarf? 

The use of a scarf is just so darn, well - chic, apt, even poetic. It calls to mind the dancer Isadora Duncan in 1927, who while traveling in an open convertible was strangled to death by her own long trailing scarf, which got caught in the spokes of one of the wheels. How dramatic. How memorable.

It just strikes me as poignant that a piece of fabric designed to adorn is used instead to destroy. So I wonder, was the scarf not specifically chosen but simply what was at hand? That would be fitting for a jet-setting woman who used a $5000 Louis Vuitton handbag as a footrest. Fashionables surrounded by luxuries needn’t reach too far for a lovely silk scarf.

Suppose there was more intent to the scarf. Selected out of practicality, because it felt softer around the neck. For style, because she liked scarves. Perhaps she meant it as a final (ironic) nod to the fashion world. If indeed the scarf was one from her own line, then what better a metaphor. Her business literally choked her to death.

Intended or not, the scarf is a memorable detail to Ms. Scott’s suicide story, as it is with Ms. Duncan’s untimely death. How many of us will pause just a moment the next time we tie a band of fabric around our necks?

My condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Scott. May she rest in peace.




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