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#overdressed4life

qKBCeTOLKJwC… as luxury became available to the mass market, the more luxury became devalued. It was a sign of status not to have an expensive bag, but a new expensive bag every season. The notion that luxury items endure was abolished. Status came from being able to discard luxury goods as if they were high street. What was left of real worth was either the difficult to obtain (the Hermes waiting list) or the ostentatiously, obtrusively flashy, such as Cate Blanchett’s $100,000 stolen bag with the black pave diamonds.  

Linda Grant, British author. Quote from The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasure of Shopping and Why Clothes Matter, (Scribner, 2010).

This quote reminds me of a recent trip to the Dollar Store. I was standing in the checkout line behind a woman who was dressed in unbranded shorts and sneakers. Dangling from her wrist was a thin Louis Vutton  pouch. As we stood together in this slow-moving line, I began to wonder if it was the real thing or a fake. Would this woman spend over $600 on a small piece of luxury? Would a woman who can afford such a splurge bother waiting in a long line at the Dollar Store?

louis-vuitton-daily-pouch-monogram-small-leather-goods--M62048_PM2_Front viewThese days who knows. Maybe it was a gift. Or she saved up. Or she bought it second hand. Or maybe she’s loaded and enjoys bargains like the rest of us, so she’s willing to shop at the Dollar Store.

Lucky for me, since I can’t afford it anyway, I’ve never been attracted to branded luxury. Although I appreciate the quality of a Chanel or a Hermes or a Louis Vutton, I prefer my own monogram. Plus, I’m not going to spend that kind of money on something that someone else might assume is a fake. Ms. Grant is right, luxury has been devalued. What used to be aspirational is now achievable.

I find luxury in quality and uniqueness. I don’t want what everybody else has – real or fake.

Cover image, EMMIE AND THE TUDOR KINGToday OverDressedforLife has a guest post by Natalie Murray, who has just published her first Young Adult novel Emmie and the Tutor King.

Natalie is sharing with us the continuing influence of Tutor fashion.

Here’s Natalie …

Fashion isn’t typically a first thought when someone mentions the Tudors. Beheadings or high treason, anyone? However, the sixteenth-century Tudor court was not just a place where the king or queen might make you a head shorter; it was an haute couture catwalk for the English upper classes, with many trends lingering today. Here are six Tudor staples influencing fashion in 2019, from volume dresses to boxy toes:

1. Bold is beautiful. Cashed-up ladies in Tudor England exhibited their status through elaborately embellished frocks with plenty of layers. While hidden fabrics were typically left plain to save money, any visible part of a bodice or skirt was usually made from expensive fabric and richly decorated with everything from jewels to ribbons, feathers and lace. This theatrical aesthetic has graced the 2019 collections of Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Chanel—and many more—with voluminous skirts, extravagant detailing, and layers of romantic ruffles.

 

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Puffy sleeves by Ronald van der Kemp, spring ’19. Photo: Allesandro Viero.

2. Statement sleeves. With arms always covered during the pious Tudor era, the rich and royal had fun with inventive sleeves that were slashed, puffed, tied, and even embroidered with secret messages. From Alexander McQueen to Balenciaga, Loewe to Rodarte, this year’s spring and fall catwalks presented dramatic feature sleeves including ruffled, trumpet, rounded, puffed, and decorated with fanciful motifs.

3. Pictures and patterns. Tudor nobles adorned themselves with illustrations of the natural world, hunting scenes, mythical creatures, food varieties, and even their own initials. Fashion in 2019 has embraced motifs—particularly florals—evident in the embroideries and prints used by Valentino, Chanel, Maison Margiela, Alexis Mabille, and more. Iconography in fashion is no more OTT now than it was four hundred years ago.

4. Ruff around the edges. Synonymous with the chicest women and men of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, the Elizabethan ruff is enjoying a renaissance. Sprouting from necklines across this season’s spring and fall catwalks, the likes of Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy, Giambattista Valli, Christian Dior, and Schiaparelli, are proving that the ruff still rules.

5. Beneath the hood. Married women covered much of their hair during the Tudor period, and King Henry VIII’s six wives can be expressed through a tale of hoods: Catherine of Aragon wore the English gable hood with its conservative triangular frame, Anne Boleyn preferred the more modern crescent-shaped French hood, and Jane Seymour reverted back to the English hood as a strategic shunning of Anne Boleyn’s image. Designers bringing back head coverings this year include Marc Jacobs, Rodarte, Armani Prive, and Christian Dior.

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Square toe is making a comeback in fall ’19. Roberto Cavalli. Photo: Filippo Fior.

6. Square steps. While there isn’t a great deal of evidence about Tudor footwear, it’s believed that both men and women of the earlier sixteenth century favored square-toe slippers cut low to the ankle. This look is seen cushioning the tootsies of King Henry VIII in his famous portrait by Hans Holbein. This year, we’re seeing a square-toe revival in the form of winter boots at Eckhaus Latta, high-heeled boots at Roberto Cavalli, and pumps at Erdem.

Thanks, Natalie and congratulations on the publication of your first YA novel. I love this Tutor influence. I am particularly looking forward to “pictures and patterns” in fall ’19. 

Readers, check out Emmie and the Tutor King, Literary Crush Publishing. Great summer reading. 

 

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Wearable Art by Kaisik Wong featuring metallic checkered fabric. Photo: Wong Family.

You need a certain confidence to carry off a major piece of clothing so that you are wearing it, instead of it wearing you. 

Melissa Leventon, curator, professor of fashion history, principal at Curatrix Group.

This quote is from an episode of the PBS show Craft in America, which features craft in California. Quite a bit of time is spent on wearable art and wearable artists based in California. Ms. Leventon spoke to this subject.

When any garment is its own thing, whether that be wearable art or a vintage piece, even something off the rack, it can be challenging to wear. What makes it its own thing might be a particular color, an unusual silhouette, or a funky fabric. I say, tailored clothing is hard work. A pencil skirt shortens your stride. A fitted jacket limits your arm mobility. How about stilettos? To pull those off you better step gracefully. Hats? I love them but often you can’t just plop on a hat and not expect to rise to the occasion. (If nothing else you’re going to have to respond to nice people commenting/complimenting you, so there’s no hiding beneath a hat.)

 

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Ensemble designed by Louise Brown. My mother pulled it off.

My mother has a dress and coat outfit that was designed by my grandmother back in the 1960s. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine what a task it is to wear that piece. For starters the dress is made of plaid wool and has 62 buttons. Small ones up the back and along the sleeves. It’s fitted and therefore, requires foundation garments. Then there’s the burnt orange wool coat, which is large and boxy and has no shape. The combination is actually quite fantastic, but you have to be up for it, or as Ms. Leventon says, it’s going to wear you.

Even just everyday items of clothing that are comfortable, still might require some energy. I was recently reading a middle-grade novel (The First Rule of Punk, by Celia Perez) in which the 12-year-old protagonist is the new girl in school. She’s into punk music (no one her age knows anything about punk) and all things edgy so she decides to show up for her first day dressed in ripped jeans, a t-shirt with something punk on it and … heavy black eyeliner circling her eyes. OK, we know where this is going. She was immediately labeled a “weirdo.” But she made those sartorial choices and she stood up in them with confidence, like any good heroine would.

When I don my vintage clothing, I know that part of the look is going to be me and my attitude. I have to stand a little straighter, move a little more precisely, wear my ensemble with intent and confidence. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the right effect and for sure it won’t feel right.

 

 

 

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If you want a pair of cowboy boots or anything else western style, Christesen’s Tack Room in Downtown Pleasanton has got you covered. I have never seen so many variations on a theme! But I must admit that I don’t frequent tack shops.

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This place feels very small town, old-school in a most charming way. It’s large and stocks Western and English riding attire for men, women, and children: jackets, pants, shirts galore (long and short sleeve), and hats. I don’t think you need to ride a horse to sport the look. or incorporate one piece. That could make for some very interesting fashion.

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Christesen’s Tack Room stocks many brands including Pendleton.

I’m attracted to western style shirts, which would be cute paired with a pencil skirt and rakish vintage hat. How about cowboy boots with crop pants?

A classic cowboy boot must have a tall shaft but there is what’s called a roper, which has a shorter boot shaft. I have a pair of shoes by Guess from the 90s. In black suede they have the classic cowboy boot look with a pointy toe and swirly cutouts but no shaft. They hit just below the ankle. I call them my “faux cowboy boots” and it turns out they’re great for Irish Set Dancing. (The dancing is long gone from my life but not those faux cowboy boots.)

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I enjoy adding unexpected pieces of clothing to my usual style and western wear is a great way to really get creative.

Christesen’s Tack Room is located at 633 Main Street, Pleasanton, CA. 925-846-2169.

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Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate, and Patty Duke in Valley of the Dolls.

OverDressedforLife is starting something new – to mix it up a bit, once in awhile Fashionable Quote will be replaced with Fashionable Word.

Our very first fashionable word is … composed. As in, “She is very composed.”

The definition of composed in the Webster’s New World Dictionary is: calm; tranquil; self-possessed.

I’ve been thinking about this word since I recently heard it used to describe Anne Welles, a character in Valley of the Dolls.

Valley of the Dolls is a 1967 film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. Starring Sharon Tate, Patty Duke, and Barbara Parkins, it’s the story of three young women in NYC and Hollywood living the roller-coaster life of showbiz and prescription drug addiction. At the time, the film and story were taken very seriously, but its melodramatics have since turned it into a campy cult classic.

I watched Valley of the Dolls a few weeks ago and was surprised by the strength of the cast, which also included Susan Hayword and Lee Grant. I enjoyed the very specific 1960s production values and the costumes by William Travilla, who is best known for designing the white halter dress Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch.

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Barbara Parkins in Valley of the Dolls.

There’s a lot to say about Dolls, but let’s get back to our word. The character Anne Welles, played by Barbara Parkins, is a college educated ingenue from New England. She carries with her a certain reserve, or composure, that gives her an attractive mystique. Up against the other characters, particularly Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke) who is quite over-the-top with rage, Welles always remains calm, keeping her emotions in check. She is composed.

I heard that Travilla designed Welles’ costumes to reflect her reserve and that Parkins didn’t care for the “buttoned-up” look. Really? I did!

 

 

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Barbara Parkins and Susan Hayward in Valley of the Dolls.

I like her stylish yet simple costumes, her fluffy, backcombed hair … and her composed demeanor.

In today’s world dominated by social media, we are all overexposed. Too many loud voices. Too many opinion shared. Too many pics posted. I find a little composure refreshing.

Since style is just as much about behavior as it is about clothing, being composed might make a great new trend.

 

 

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On a recent sunny Saturday, my partner and I spent some time in Downtown Pleasanton. What a charming area with restaurants, a farmer’s market, and quite a few boutiques that were packed with shoppers. Who says retail is dead?

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Custom aprons from Estrella Designs.

I love it when I turn a corner and find something completely unexpected. We turned off Main Street onto Division Street and discovered a tiny shop inside the garage of a large brick house. Tucked inside was a teenage girl trying on the most fabulous gown in red lace. Well, turns out this was her senior high school graduation party dress that was getting altered by the shop’s proprietor, Agustin Estrella.

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Estrella learned how to sew from his mother and he opened his shop, Estrella Designs in 2010. He sells custom aprons, cotton dresses, and he does alterations.

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I loved Estrella’s clever approach to decor – he uses zippers and spools of thread to trim lampshades, drapes fabric from the ceiling for a makeshift dressing room, and his sewing machine is front and center, like a prized piece of art.

Thank you, Agustin Estrella. Running into your shop was a highlight of the day.

 

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Gucci magazine ad, 2019.

You can lose nothing to your beauty but you want to put more and more just to be crazy.

Alessandro Michele, Italian designer and creative director at Gucci.

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An early Michele design for Gucci.

Mr. Michele took over the iconic Gucci brand in 2015 and quickly turned it around with a 12 percent growth in the first year. Initially I liked the new Michele/Gucci look. It was elegance with a twist – mixed patterns, unexpected color combinations, chunky jewelry but not too much. The look was big – exaggerated but still this side of good taste.

Then it got to be too much, at least for me. Busy ensembles and mash-up of colors, textures, and patterns – plaids with floral prints in bright colors, stripes with checks, added lace and embroidery making everyone look like a clown.

He got carried away with “more is more” and this crazy idea to be Crazy. Still, I admire the designer’s talent and I’m hoping he gets bored and dials it back. We shall see.