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#overdressed4life

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Adult attire by Dior, Fall 2019.

For so long, we’ve idolized Facetuned Instagram teens and off-duty models. The course correction is dressing up, looking like an adult, and incorporating a little mystery while we’re at it. 

Veronique Hyland, fashion features director at Elle magazine.

Yes! But there’s a problem. No one knows anymore how to dress up or look like an adult.

I’m reminded of the book The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish (Basic Books, 2014). Written by Professor Linda Przybyszewski, The Lost Art of Dress tells the tale of The Dress Doctors, women who in the early 20th century taught Americans how to dress well through newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, and classes.  There were rules – suitable attire for every occasion, from work to weddings. Then in the 1960s the whole idea of even being an adult, much less dress like one, was thrown out the window, and out too went the Dress Doctors and their advice.

Here we are today in a perpetual state of athleisure.

 

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Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick and Glenn Close at the CDG awards ceremony. Photo: The Costume Designers Guild. 

From the muslin prototype to the finished masterpiece, stitch by stitch, thought by thought, revelation by revelation. My characters would finally emerge. 

Glenn Close, American film and stage actress.

Ms. Close was recently honored by the Costumer Designers Guild with the Spotlight Award.

This quote is from The Costume Designer, the official magazine of the Costumer Designers Guild.

It’s nice to see appreciation for costumers. Once, way back when I did costumes for community theater, a director said to me, “I don’t care if the actors go on stage naked.” That’s how little regard he had for the costumes in his show, which was always a puzzle to me. Really? Because the costumes set a visual tone not to mention help to create the characters. Oh well, at least his disinterest allowed me a lot of freedom and there was no pushback. No appreciation but no criticism. It could have been worse.

Congratulations to Glenn Close and all the winners of the CDGA.

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Jerry Garcia’s vintage top hat, c.1969. 

Let’s celebrate the freedom to sport our own individual style.

OverDressedforLife wishes one and all a happy and safe Independence Day!

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My necklace is Tiffany. My jacket is Juicy Couture. My purse is Louis Vuitton and my shoes are Ugg. 

Anonymous.

Picture an 8-year-old girl saying this to me, a reporter, at a store grand opening in Downtown San Francisco. The place is packed with slick well-clad people standing in clusters sipping champagne and saying “no” to the hors d’oeuvres offered on trays by silent waitstaff.

It was circa 2009 when I was covering such events for the Nob Hill Gazette and the now defunct 944 magazine  A media savvy mother introduced her daughter to me and the youngster immediately launched into her spiel in a sign-song little voice that still rings in my ears. I didn’t even have the chance to say hello. This fashionista knew what to say and do. After listing the brands she struck a pose. Hand on waist, head tilted and sporting a wide grin she stood as still as a stone sculpture waiting for me to take her photo.

My first thought was – a little girl is carrying a Louis Vuitton?! Wearing the wardrobe and speaking the speak of a grown woman, she was at once charming and surreal.

This is just one of many memorable experiences I had during a two year period that I call The Fling, when, as a member of the press I attended openings, parties, and other events hosted by SF socialites. It was a fun and a bewildering period of my writing life that left me with many an interesting story to tell. And a few not to tell.

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Gloria Vanderbilt and her jeans, mid-1970s. 

All art, from the paintings on the walls of cave dwellers to art created today, is autobiographical because it comes from the secret place in the soul where imagination resides. 

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), American heiress, designer, author, artist.

The great-great-granddaughter of a railroad magnate, Gloria was an only child and very wealthy. Her father died when she was just a baby and her mother left her with nannies while she traveled the world spending her daughter’s money. Gloria’s aunt sued for custody and the press thrived on that for weeks, calling the 10-year old, “a poor little rich girl.” That attention sealed her fate as a non-Hollywood celebrity. After her aunt won custody of Gloria, the two lived together in a New York City mansion.

Fast forward to three marriages and many creative endeavors including model, artist, author, poet, and what she might be best known for –  fashion designer, specifically women’s jeans. In the 1970s a clothing manufacturer signed Gloria to market their jeans, which were specifically cut for women’s figures. Hers was the first “designer jean” complete with the Vanderbilt signature on the back rear pocket. The deal was a big success and grew into Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corporation, which was eventually sold to the Jones Apparel Group in 2002.

Any American woman alive in the 1970s probably sported a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

RIP, Gloria.

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Lesley Warren from Salon 1757.

I’m a regular at Salon 1757 in North Berkeley where Kit Cullinane has been keeping my hair looking its bobbed best since 2006. On a recent visit to the salon I thought stylist Leslie Warren was looking particularly Berkeley chic.

It’s the pants that make the outfit. Lesley tells me she found them in the Juniors Department at Nordstrom in Seattle. (It’s always smart to look in Juniors.)  The detailing along the sides is a current trend and turns otherwise simple pants into something interesting. The shoes are just the right Berkeley quirky and the low heel is perfect with the shorter hem-length of the pants. Lesley punches up the all black look with a colorful scarf. And of course her full bouncy red hair tops it all off nicely. I also really like her subtle cat-eye glasses.

 

 

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It’s all in the detail.

Berkeley has always had its own unique style. Part European or Asian, part hippie, part DIY. Think non-structured silhouettes, Dansko clogs, shades of black and gray, geometric patterns, texture, natural fabrics (linen is a favorite), layering, and sometimes a touch of vintage.

Thank you, Lesley! I’ll be seeing you again in the salon.

 

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.