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Archive for April, 2019

A saleswoman was assigned to me. She walked me to a small sofa in a dark corner of the salon, and then the questions began: What colors do you like? Do you want a print? Full or straight skirt? Strapless? What size are you? When I told her I was a 10, she smiled and said, ‘I think perhaps a 12.’ I hated her but she was the one who had access to all those wonderful, beautiful Magnin clothes that were kept behind closed doors. She was my key to glamour. 

Pat Steger (1932-1999), San Francisco native and society columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, 1974-1999.

Ms. Steger is recounting her experience shopping at the iconic San Francisco store, I. Magnin. She wanted something special for her senior high school dance and the third floor of I. Magnin was the place to go. This would have been in the late 1940s when there were no racks of clothes for customers to sift though. Instead the clothes were kept in the back and saleswomen would pull out items they felt were to the customer’s taste. Ms. Steger goes on to say that after rejecting six or seven selections, the saleswoman presented the perfect dress – a teal strapless evening gown by Ceil Chapman, in a size 10. Suddenly she loved the saleswoman.

I found this quote in a most interesting book all about the history of I. Magnin – A Store to Remember by James Thomas Mullane (Falcon Books, 2007).

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… today most consumers fail to understand the human cost of manufacturing garments at such low prices. Living in a discount culture, TV shows continue to perpetuate this misnomer through their steal and deal segments. A majority of people see the rise of fast fashion giants, such a Zara and H&M, as a revolution in democratizing runway trends, but does the consumer stop to think or even care that their new Celine-like ensemble comes at the cost of a human life?

Ariele Chantel Elia – MSL candidate in Fashion Law at Fordham University, Industry/Project Coordinator for MFA Fashion Design program at Fashion Institute of Technology.

This quote of from Scholars’ Roundtable Presentation, 2018 Costume Society of America Symposium. Printed in Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America, v.44, #2, 2018. The title of the discussion was Engaging Labor, Acknowledging Maker.

Some consumers do care and are thinking about the cost of fast-fashion. This brings to mind Fashion Revolution Week, the annual event that seeks to highlight the people around the world who make our clothes. Who are they? What are their lives like?

Behind Fashion Revolution Week is the UK based non-profit organization Fashion Revolution. Their intent with the week is to remind consumers of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, in which 1138 workers died and many were injured. Also during this time people around the world are planning various events to highlight the true cost of fashion and inspire us to think and question.

One of the many campaigns for the week is #whomademyclothes? Sport a piece of clothing inside out so the label shows. Take a selfie holding a sign that says – Who Made My Clothes? Post on Instagram and Twitter with #whomademyclothes? Make sure to share with the brand you’re wearing.

This year Fashion Revolution Week is April 22nd – 28th. It’s a time to consider and ask questions about what we wear. Join in!

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In the deep suburbs it’s difficult to find any inspired style. Everyone looks the same in their alt-leisure/yoga wear. So I was pleasantly surprised to spot this woman in the post office.

Screaming 70s style we have: the short jacket with faux fur trim hood, the flared tight jeans, and even her hard leather shoulder bag, which she doesn’t wear cross body – not done back then.

The boots can’t be seen here but they’re a low chunky heel and her hair is straight, long, and dyed very blonde. The clue that we haven’t entered a time-travel machine (given the age of the post office itself we might think, hmm …)  is that she’s sporting the black shirt below the jacket hemline. That is a modern layering look and it wasn’t done back in the day.

I doubt any of these pieces are vintage but worn all together the total look certainly presents vintage.

Hooray for something different!

 

 

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qKBCeTOLKJwCWe wear what everyone else wears, but that in turn is constantly undermined by changes which take place in society. In the 1950s, that “everyone” was in twinsets and pearls; a decade later, it was miniskirts. The radicalized 1960s was a decade whose true and enduring revolution was the sexual one. Clothes were part of the physical liberation of the body, the undoing of what Dior had made twenty years earlier. Chic, elegance, style, femininity were no longer the measure of how you dressed. You dressed to feel free inside, and feeling free, perhaps you could actually make yourself (and others) free. You cannot take part in a demonstration in stilettos. 

Linda Grant, British author.

This quote is taken from the non-fiction book, The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter (Scribner, 2009).

Reading The Thoughtful Dresser I have wondered what Ms Grant would have to say about athleisure and the trend for sloppy dressing. I’m about two thirds into the book and she hasn’t commented yet.

What she does discuss is shifts in fashion from the 1940s on as well as the importance of clothing in society and to her personally. She says, “how we choose to dress defines who we are … how we look and what we wear tells a story.”

With her own stories and stories of others (including Catherine Hill, a refugee in Canada after WWII who went on to become a successful buyer for women’s clothing in various department stores) Ms Grant takes on the topic of fashion in a serious but accessible manner.

I’m enjoying The Thoughtful Dresser and I recommend it to fashion enthusiasts, particularly those interested in fashion history.

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Arcopedico shoes have a long history since their debut in 1966. Made in Portugal, they are as unique today as they were back then. The uppers are crafted from a nylon mesh knit, allowing for breath-ability and stretch that can adjust to various foot shapes. The nylon is treated with a softener wax making it gentle on the skin. Additionally Arcopedicos have patented metal-free twin arch support soles that protect the arch and offer distribution of body weight. As soon as you put on these shoes you feel the contradiction of the soft cozy knit with the stable foot bed. It’s like you slipped orthotics into your socks.

I’ve been wearing the LS (pictured above) in Starry Navy daily for a couple of weeks. Since I stand at my writing desk, that was the first comfort test. I find in Arcopedicos I can stand for long periods of time without any foot or back fatigue. Out doing errands they are comfortable to walk in for short distances. I don’t know that I recommend them for long distance walking, but a few blocks, in and out of the car, plane travel, train travel, commuting to work – YES.

Now, on to another very important point – they are cute, cute, cute. The LS is an Oxford style with a nicely contoured black sole. Wear them with or without socks and pair them with jeans, shorts, leggings, or a  denim skirt. They have a unique sporty look, which makes a good alternative to the ubiquitous sneaker. They’re vegan, washable, and they come in many colors – red, pink, white, yellow, black … too many to list them all.

I have enjoyed wearing the Arcopedico LS and I’m happy to add them to my shoe wardrobe. They’re a great option for upcoming spring and summer events. I see them hopping on the merry-go-round at the fair; dancing at a music festival; strolling the farmers market; boarding a jet plane to faraway places.

Check out the entire Arcopedico line.  They make boots too!

 

 

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downloadI was in Silicon Valley and with a lot of senior, grown-up people, not the Millennials. I was out there for a couple of days and it just struck me that they didn’t see it, but they all dressed exactly alike – they all wear jeans, they all wear navy blazers, they all wear shirts without ties. If you’re a multi-million-dollar-a-year Silicon Valley executive, you dress like a civilian because you’re wearing jeans, but you’re wearing $2,000 brown Italian shoes … that’s how you express your individuality. 

Leslie H. Wexner, CEO L Brands.

This quote is from an interview Mr. Wexner did with WWD, June 2016.

Jeans? How depressing. At least the older guys are wearing blazers – I bet the younger ones are not. Still, it’s a look that, for me, does not inspire any confidence and I certainly don’t find it attractive. I like an executive to look like an executive, not a “civilian.” I know that suits these days are dated, but there must be some way to balance a professional look with modern lifestyles. But really, at the office no sneakers! No jeans! Please guys, dress like a grown-up, not like your ten-year-old son.

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I recently had the pleasure of joining the Textile Arts Council on a private docent-led tour of Kimono Refashioned, on now through May 5, 2019 at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

The Kimono has been  a part of my world since I was a little girl. My dad owned an antique men’s Kimono in silk and my mother has a collection of colorful cotton Kimono that she dons at home. One of my first sewing projects was a Kimono style robe. The word Kimono means “a thing to wear.” That is a casual definition for such an important garment that has crossed cultural barriers from traditional Japan to modern America.

Kimono Refashioned highlights the influence Japanese Kimono – in textiles, aesthetics, and design – has had on western fashion since the late 19th century. The exhibit is two galleries with over 35 garments from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

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 Kimono made into a Victorian dress, c.1875. 

Among the displayed garments is a Kimono deconstructed and remade into a Victorian dress (are we thinking appropriation?) and later examples of how Kimono influenced western silhouettes with designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, and Madeleine Vionnet, among others. Modern designers featured include Tom Ford, Rei Kawakubo, Sarah Burton, and Christian Louboutin.

Kimono Refashioned at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Don’t miss it!

PS – No photo-taking allowed in the exhibit.

 

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