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Notice Fran Lebowitz doesn’t try to soften her look at all with an accessory such as a brooch.

I’m interested in the profoundly superficial; people’s innermost thoughts are never as revealing as their jackets. 

Fran Lebowitz, American writer.

Fran Lebowitz is known for her signature style of suits paired with wingtip cowboy boots and button down shirts with french cuffs. Or on more casual days – Levi’s 501 jeans.

She found her style early in life as a twenty-something newbie to New York City. It was 1970 and she crossed paths with Andy Warhol, who soon asked her to write a column for his magazine – Interview.

In her youth she sported jeans, Oxford shirts, pullover sweaters, and penny loafers. A simple preppy look, which was not uncommon at the time. At some point she decided that was “too childish” so she dumped the sweaters and went looking for men’s jackets and suits. A foot problem led her to cowboy boots, which she has to have custom made as they don’t come in wingtips.

A social commentator with a sense of (dry) humor and a sharp wit, Ms. Lebowitz has written two books and numerous essays mostly on American society. Law and Order fans may have spotted her playing Judge Goldberg in several episodes.

She’s a regular at NYC Fashion Week and hobnobs with the likes of Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenberg. She shares her tailor, Anderson & Sheppard, with Prince Charles and her shirts are from Hilditch & Key on Jermyn Street in London. (If Beau Brummell were alive, he’d be impressed.)

In 2007 she was inducted into the Vanity Fair International Best Dressed Hall of Fame.

So what does Lebowitz’s suit jacket say about her?

  • She likes things just so.
  • She’s confident.
  • Willing to spend on quality.
  • She does things her way.
  • Completely committed to the masculine look.
  • She likes her jackets a little on the big side.

 

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Dorothy Parker in 1935.

They looked alike, though the resemblance did not lie in their features. It was in the shape of their bodies, their movements, their style, and their adornments. Annabel and Midge did, and completely, all that young office workers are besought not to do. They painted their lips and their nails, they darkened their lashes and lightened their hair, and scent seemed to shimmer from them. They wore thin, bright dresses, tight over their breasts and high on their legs, and tilted slippers, fancifully strapped. They looked conspicuous and cheap and charming. 

Dorthy Parker (1893-1967), American author.

Quote from The Standard of Living, 1941.

Favorite words in this quote: adornments, besought, fancifully, conspicuous, charming. Stylish words that are not used much anymore.

As for the idea of not painting our lips and darkening our lashes? Perish the thought!

IMG_20180322_114748Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have. they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us. 

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) – English author. This quote is from Ms. Woolf’s 1925 novel, Orlando.

Virginia Woolf’s sense of style was very much of her era and social set – bohemian 1920s. We might call it “effortless elegance” today. She favored long cardigans and printed skirts that draped so nicely on her tall slender figure. She didn’t go with the popular bob hairstyle but instead, staying just askew of fashion, she sported an untidy bun at the nape of the neck. Strands of long beads and fringed shawls were among her accessory choices.

She often referred to clothing in her novels and commented in her diary that “I must remember to write about my clothes …”

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20180325_113517751_HDRPeople laugh at fashion. ‘It’s just clothes,’ they say. Right. Just clothes. Except, not one of the people I’ve heard mock fashion was naked at the time. They all got dressed in the morning, picking clothes that said, ‘Hey, I’m a successful banker.’ Or, ‘I’m a tired teacher’ … a decorated soldier … a pompous judge … a cheeky barmaid … a lorry driver, a nurse … You could go on for ever. Clothes show you who you are, or who you want to be. 

Ella, 14 year-old character in the Young Adult novel, The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington.

The Red Ribbon tells the story of Ella, who as a prisoner of “Birchwood”  (a WWII concentration camp in Poland) struggles to keep hold of her dreams to become a dress designer. With her advanced skills as a seamstress she works in the camp’s sewing workshop where young women make clothing for the wives of Birchwood officials.

I heard an interview with author and costume historian Lucy Adlington on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. Promoting the book she talked about her research and the facts behind slave labor in the camps, including the making of beautiful clothing. Ms. Adlington based her novel on the true story of the Upper Tailoring Studio at Auschwitz, which was put in place by the Commandant’s wife, Hedwig Hoss. She had skilled women prisoners recruited  to make bespoke clothing for her, other officials’ wives, and female guards. Eventually there were 23 seamstresses working in the Upper Tailoring Studio, one of the better jobs to have in such a place.

This is a very interesting piece of fashion history woven into a well crafted novel of horror and hope. Although at times it’s shocking and upsetting, I highly recommend it for just that kind of truth.

I have also read Ms. Adlington’s non-fiction fashion history book, Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear (Random House UK, 2015). Another excellent read for those who love all things fashion history.

Check out her web-page: http://www.historywardrobe.com/index.html

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Easter Egg pendants by Faberge. Note the bunny in the middle. Image from The Art of Faberge by Alexander von Solodkoff.

Holiday jewelry can be fun, although, it has to be understated to be chic. I don’t really go for Christmas baubles but I do like to sport a collection of antique heart charms in February and this time of year I pull out my gold-filled Easter bunny pendant, which is a Faberge copy.

Carl Faberge was the jeweler to the Russian Tsars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for exquisite quality, he favored enamel and opaque stones like jade and coral. His subjects were also unique –  flowers, animals, and eggs.

Russian royalty liked to give each other gifts at Easter. In 1885 Alexander III asked Faberge to make an egg as a special Easter gift to his wife. The very first egg was simple in white enamel with a surprise gold hen inside. A big hit, the Faberge Easter Egg gift became a tradition and carried on by Alexander’s son, Nicholas II. Over time the eggs became more and more elaborate.

 

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The first Faberge Easter Egg, 1885.

As well as the large eggs, miniature egg pendants were also created by Faberge and many other jewelers at the time. The pendants were popular small Easter gifts to distant family members and important friends.

IMG_20180328_112624My little bunny is a copy by the Museum of Modern Art for their 1996 Faberge in America exhibition. That exhibit came to the de Young (the old building) and my mother and I attended. I couldn’t resist this charming Easter bunny. I think he’s a quiet adornment to celebrate all that is new and fresh in spring.

(On a side note, click here to read a rather disdainful review of Faberge in America by Kenneth Baker for the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Wishing all OverDressedforLife readers a very Happy Easter. 

IMG_20180320_142326 (1)I always need a hat. Whether I’m traveling, drawing, or going out to a show, whether I’m keeping the sun out of my eyes or the rain off my head, I have a hat for each occasion.

Paul Madonna- artist and writer, creator of the comic strip All Over Coffee, which ran in the SF Chronicle for 12 years.

A fella after my own heart. I also always have a hat. In fact I often will pack with me an extra hat or two for a change in weather. Or if I’m going to be out all day and into the evening, I must have a hat suitable for nighttime.

Straw hats, felt hats, wool berets, modern and vintage … I love them all for that added bit of style.

Now that spring is here and Easter is fast approaching, time for a new hat?

How about a Paul Madonna for Goorin? Mr. Madonna has collaborated with the local hatter to make a series of hats with original SF skyline illustrations. What a fabulous idea to have the inside lining illustrated, while the outside of the hat is, “… understated but fashionable,” says Mr. Madonna.

Keep the lining a secret or tip your hat and start a conversation.

Click here for more information.

IMG_20180302_140332When you’re dealing with an audience that is all about experience versus product, it leads to a redefinition of certain categories … She’s seeking experience over tangible items, which has led to what I call fast beauty. She wants the ability to grab one thing she can try once because she doesn’t want to be locked down forever. In the end, her shopping basket is going to be just as high, but the difference is instead of having a gigantic bottle of one thing, she is going to have a variety of single-use, travel-size, quick items. She wants to be mobile … 

Ingrid Jackel, CEO Yes To.

I guess I’m not this shopper because if I find a product that works for me I stick with it. These days even though it seems that we have more beauty and fashion choices, there actually is very little. Perhaps a lot of junk but not much quality. So when I discover something that suits me, I become a loyal customer.