Archive for December, 2015

Livia-Firth_headshotHow about trying to make an exercise where instead of walking into that shop once a week or more, we make the 30-wears-rule? Everyone should really think before they buy something and ask – will I wear it a minimum of 30 times? So, if you can’t answer – “Yes, I’ll wear it a minimum of 30 times.” –  don’t buy it. Who needs all these clothes? Who? 

– Livia Firth, sustainable fashion champion and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge. 

Sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.

I have some clothes that go way past 30 wears. A cashmere sweater, several skirts, and long sleeve cotton tees that, truthfully, I bought at Target years ago. (Gotta give the Target store credit.)

So hey, let’s take up Ms. Firth’s challenge in 2016 and think before we buy – Will I wear this at least 30 times? If the answer is no or even I’m not sure, leave it in the store. You’ll feel good for doing so.


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Merry Merry!

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51wtSkv9QhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A Dandy is heroically consecrated to this one object; the wearing of clothes wisely and well. So that others dress to live, he lives to dress. 

– Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian and novelist.

This quote is from Carlyle’s novel Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Re-tailored) published in 1836, but I found it in Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style by Ian Kelly.

Beau (aka George) Brummell was the first Dandy, having turned men’s fashions of the late 18th century upside down. He rejected the trendy wig, powdered face, and ruffled shirt and instead strut about in tight beige jodhpurs-like-slacks, boots, and tailored blazers in black. Indeed he is credited with creating the first suit for men. He bathed regularly (unheard of at the time) and went without fragrance. The Prince Regent was influenced by Brummell as were most of London’s aristocrats. What he did and how he dressed was of such interest that men would arrive at his front door in the early mornings asking to watch him dress, which took two hours. He was a wealthy young man with a gift for witty banter and luck at the gambling table. Until it all flitted away.

Brummell’s is a fascinating story and good read for those quiet moments during the holiday season. We do get some of those, right?


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Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Costumes by Edith Head.

I recently needed a break from all the holiday hoopla and decided on a night in with a classic non-holiday movie – Sunset Boulevard.

What a great film of “glamorous” Hollywood, which stays on the comfortable side of creepy but adds a pinch of noir. Directed by Billy Wilder in 1950 and starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond and William Holden as Joe Gillis, Sunset Boulevard tells the story of an unstable middle-aged actress who is living in denial. She’s striving for a Hollywood comeback or rather a throwback to her youth as a big star in silent films thirty years earlier. Writer and debt-ridden Holden comes along and gets snared into her time warp.

Swanson received an academy award nomination for her work in this film but she was not the fist choice for the part. She accepted it after actresses such as Mary Pickford and Mae West turned it down for the story-line hitting a little too close to home.

It must have for Swanson as well. She had been a star in the 1920s but at age 50 she had long since faded into Hollywood history. Still, being a bit of a health nut, particularly about food, Swanson looked great and Wilder made the choice not to turn her into an old scary hag for the role of Norma Desmond.

Although she is stuck in her heyday era, Norma Desmond still looks chic thanks to costumer extraordinaire Edith Head.

In her biography Head discusses Wilder’s vision:

Billy explained to me that he wanted Gloria to convey a feeling of the past, but he didn’t want her to re-create it. He didn’t want anything ridiculous or laughable … Norma Desmond tried to be as contemporary as possible by wearing fashionable styles … To accomplish this I added a touch of the bizarre to each costume to remind audiences that she was living in a dream world of the past.

I think Head did a fabulous job creating a look for Norma that is unique and timeless.

Escape the holidays for an evening and visit Sunset Boulevard.

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IMG_0665I started my store when I was 24 years old and it has led me on to all the wonderful professional roads I have taken. My purpose was to begin my own life/career and to answer to no one but myself, to be independent. After 50 successful years of being able to do just that, I decided it was time to close this chapter and make more room for all the branches that have sprung directly from that tree; continuing my film and television work, styling, designing, and pursuing brand new projects that have been offered to me … 
– Patricia Field, stylist 
As reported on OverDressed for Life last week, Ms. Field announced that she will be closing her NYC store in the spring of next year.
Let’s hear it for starting new chapters!

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On these dark and chilly evenings I have been staying in and poring over the most fabulous of books, The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration by Julian Robinson and Gracie Calvey (Quarto Publishing, 2015).  A visual feast of fashion illustrations spanning 400 years from the Renaissance to the 1940s, The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration features over 350 fashion plates from the Julian Robinson Archive.

We tend to forget that studio photography wasn’t always around and for centuries fashion relied on artists to communicate the looks of the day. Even after the advent fashion photography in the early 1900s, it was awkward and time consuming and the preference was for illustrations up until the 1960s.

Hand-drawn and colored illustrations are artwork within themselves and offer an opportunity to study the details of design. Along with the images The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration discusses the history of fashion illustration, various artists, and differing artistic styles. This book makes a lovely gift for any fashion and/ or art enthusiast.

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After 50 years in business, Patricia Field is closing her NYC store. Ms. Field, known for styling Sarah Jessica Parker et al in the Sex and the City TV series and movies, has said that she feels it is the right time to close the shop and focus on other projects.

I wonder if among these projects might be film directing. She mentioned her growing interest in directing at an event I covered last year. Imagine the cinematography of a Patricia Field film.

Well, whatever she’s up to, OverDressed for Life wishes her the best.

Ms. Field’s store will close in the spring of 2016.

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raf-simons-dior-designerI’m very scared sometimes that fashion might attack its own magic by the amount of exposure. Is this normal, the speed of fashion? 



– Raf Simons, fashion designer. Quoted from an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, September 2013.

Mr. Simons recently left his position as designer for Dior. He was hired in 2011 to replace John Galliano. (Remember that story?) Mr. Simons was a smash hit at Dior, responsible for a more romantic feel to the brand and an increase in sales by 60 percent.

So, why did he leave? Perhaps there’s a clue here in this quote. At Dior Mr. Simons created designs for six shows a year and two of those haute couture.  That’s a lot of exposure and a lot of pressure. Although he hasn’t commented specifically on the pressure, he has spoken about the lack of time for proper reflection and “incubation” time for new ideas. He has questioned the ability for fresh ideas and good design when producing fashions for so many shows. He has also questioned the purpose of all this.

I see a direct connection between the rise in production and corporate takeovers of fashion houses. In the past 15 to 20 years, investment companies such as LVMH, who happens to own Dior, Donna Karan, Fendi and a host of other brands, have ventured into the fashion industry buying up current design houses as well as old names (like Schiaparelli) hiring budding designers and re-branding. Simply put, the push is to make money and the more merchandise hitting the market, the more money will be made.

Such is the story of capitalism, but it seems that the fashion talents are pushing back. In 2015 Alber Elbaz quit Lanvin, Donna Karan left her own brand, and now Mr. Simons. Are they setting a trend?


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IMG_20151122_111813227While visiting Portland, Oregon last month I of course popped in to my favorite boutique, FlairWalk. Located in the Pearl District, FlairWalk offers an array of quality fashions for women and the proprietor just happens to be my good friend (since high school), Sara Weinstein. I remember back in the day spending hours chatting with Sara about the fashions of the times. (A particular lengthy discussion was had about baggy pants – very avant-garde. Do we or don’t we? We did!)

Speaking of friends, I found a new one at FlairWalk in the form of an infinity scarf by Mycra Pac. My new friend is in the color of the season, merlot. She is oh so SOFT, like the fur on the tail of a Maine Coon cat. But she’s longer than a tail; I can wrap her around my neck three times. The look is super chic, feeling very Art Deco, and dramatic, prompting more than a few double takes.

Let’s hear it for friends, both old and new!

Hey, need a holiday gift? A dress for the season? Shop online with FlairWalk (they offer free shipping) or if you’re in town stop by – 402 NW 12th Ave., Portland, OR. Tell Sara I sent you.



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