Archive for January, 2020

LeslieGallin. Approved 8.2019Is it too early to talk about spring 2020 shoe trends? Ah, no! Indeed, it’s just the right time as the shoe show of the year, FN Platform, is coming up February 5-7 in Las Vegas.

Lucky for us, Leslie Gallin, President of Footwear  Informa took time out of her busy schedule for a Question and Answer with OverDressedforLife.

1. How do shoe styles develop?​

Ah, a very good question and could prompt a long response, so here goes in the condensed version.  Since footwear is a utilitarian product, meaning answering the needs for waterproof, activities and safety etc. … this category of footwear is developed based upon lifestyle – trends in developing lighter and more durable and comfort go into the creations.  Fashion – Women’s and Men’s dress shoes – will most likely follow the color trends of the season along with the styling of fashion – pointy toes and heel heights. 

2. Sustainability is a big word in fashion, how is the shoe industry addressing the issue? ​

This is a hot topic – we are seeing more and more footwear brands looking to sustainably and ethically sourced materials. Many companies are looking to reduce their carbon footprint as well.  I think we will be seeing more and more footwear made from plants and recycled materials.

3. There are so many shoes made these days from around the world it seems, and the quality varies. Can you tell us what to look for in a well-crafted pair of shoes? ​

Yes, fit varies based upon the factory where the shoe is made.  There is a tremendous amount of labor – human touch which goes into making shoes. Think about it, the right foot and the left foot must ultimately be identical! This does not happen from a machine.  A sewn sole to the upper of the shoe provides a greater stability and finer shoe.  Quality of the leather, you want a shoe that the more you wear it the more comfortable it feels.  Servicing one’s shoes is important to your health. Think about it –  if the heel of your shoe is worn down that can create an imbalance to your walk and ultimately your back.  Having well serviced shoes helps with your health.  Shoes need to allow your feet to breath, therefore finding a shoe with natural – real leather, sheepskin – fabrics will be a better shoe. 


Leslie says the platform sneaker is back for 2020. We haven’t seen the platform sneaker since the late 90s.

4. Sneakers have been popular lately; do you see that going away or are they here to stay? How might they change to keep interest?

Sneakers are evolving- no longer are they just performance driven.  This generation recognized one does not need to suffer for fashion. It is a youthful look to wear “sneakers” with dresses and suits. We are seeing in men’s shoes an evolution of sorts – combining sneaker insides and soles with the an historic men’s dress shoe upper. I do think the trend of comfort being a wider acceptable factor in our shoes is here to stay.

5. What’s your favorite shoe trend for spring 2020?  ​

My favorite trend for spring- mules for women and the new casual dress shoe for men.

Mules! I just noticed a beautiful pair of mules by Brother Vellies in Harper’s Bazaar. As for sneakers, they are this walking girl’s best friend. Style and comfort all in one. I also agree that taking care of our shoes is essential for our health, pocketbook, and the environment.

Thank you, Leslie! I really appreciate your shoe expertise.

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Photo courtesy of Leslie Gallin.

Bows are dominating much of fashion – just look at recent Golden Globes gowns worn by Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson. Always a chic classic, they are adorning shoes as well. A good bow can take you anywhere – a wedding, the beach, a business meeting and more.

Leslie Gallin, President of Footwear at Informa.

Bows make me think of the Georgian Period in British history (1714-1830). The Georgians loved the bow motif and it was often used in jewelry design and in architectural detail.

I wonder if bows aren’t the end of the current fashion story. Hitting the small screen is the unfinished Jane Austen novel Sanditon on PBS Masterpiece and yet another version of Emma is coming out on the big screen in February 2020. (Technically Austen was in the Regency Period, 1790-1820.) Might we see other late Georgian motifs in current fashion?  A return of the Empire Waist? Puffy short sleeves? The spencer? (Short jacket worn by both men and women. The spencer for women ended just under the bosom.) I have already spotted a few Austen inspired looks in fashion magazines. We shall see.

For now, check ODFL on Wednesday to read a fun and informative Q&A with Leslie Gallin – it’s all about shoes!

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IMG_20200107_142019 clothes are never just garments. Each time we stand before our closet to pick out our clothes, we make a series of choices about how we want to appear before the world. This is just as true for people who claim not to care about clothes as it is for self-proclaimed fashionistas. It’s because we recognize that the way we adorn ourselves communicates something about who we are and where we come from. And everyone has experienced the discomfort of showing up somewhere dressed like they didn’t get the memo. We can think of our clothes, then, as a powerful social skin. 

Tanisha C. Ford, author, pop-culture expert, and associate professor of African Studies and History.

This quote is from Ms. Ford’s memoir, Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion (St. Martin’s Press).

In Dreams, Ms. Ford discusses the important role fashion played in her African American community of Fort Wayne, Indiana. From her parent’s colorful Dashiki shirts to baggy jeans to the hoodie to knee-high boots, she shares her childhood story and how fashion influenced her life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the interweave of fashion and the African American Mid-West experience in the 1980s/90s. Simply and distinctly, Ms. Ford offers readers a look at the point where politics and fashion crossed within her community and what that all meant to her at the time and now.

Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion – it’s a good read!


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1960s Vera logo. Image courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.

Although Vera Neumann (1907-1993) might be best known for her colorful scarves, which by the 1970s were a staple in any fashionable lady’s wardrobe, there is much more to learn about this artist, entrepreneur, and successful business woman.

Last fall I attended the exhibit Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan. What I knew when I walked into the extensive exhibit was that Vera designed beautiful scarves and that is all I knew. I was amazed and excited to see examples of her life’s work from table linens, to bedding, to clothing, to needlepoint kits and more.

Vera was always interested in art and as a child growing up in Stamford, CT. she spent her time drawing and painting what she saw in nature. After high school she attended The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a private college in New York City. Later she studied life drawing and illustration at Traphagen School of Design.

After working in fashion illustration she and her husband George, a former marketing executive, started their own business in their Gramercy Park apartment. It was 1942 and the couple had an idea to transfer Vera’s bold paintings onto fabric and create textiles to use in the home. They built a silk-screen just the size of their dining table and called the new company Printex.

A year later the Vera and George took on a partner, Frederick Werner Hamm who brokered Printex’s first big order – placemats for the NYC department store B. Altman & Co. Other orders came in along with licensing deals and within a few years Printex outgrew the dining room and relocated to a larger space, where Vera and George also lived and raised their children.

Vera-Neumann-at-Printex-c.1950s (1)

Vera at work in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.

During WWII fabric was in short supply. While desperately looking for cotton, Vera came upon parachute silk in an army surplus store and bought some to try. The results were a series of scarves with a fern motif and her signature on the bottom right hand corner. That was an unexpected game changer as department stores such as Lord & Taylor lined up to place orders and the Vera scarf became a serious trend for decades to come. Ten years later she had designed more than 2,000 scarves.


Scarves by Vera. (I love the telephone dial.) Photo courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.


Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann tells the entire Printex story with examples of everything the company manufactured. They were the first back in the 1950s to create a lifestyle brand. A lady could decorate her home entirely Vera with the first laminated placemats, napkins, dishware, wallpaper, pillows … By the 1960s she could also don Vera clothing in those distinctive bright colors and unique patterns inspired by nature and Vera’s world travels. Motifs in all her work included flowers, plants, insects and birds, but also coffeepots, an apple, carrots, school buses, even eyeglasses. Vera saw beauty in the details of everyday living and believed that art was not meant just to adorn the walls of the elite. She felt strongly that art should be affordable and available to all. (Other designers of the day were selling their scarves for $25 or more, while a Vera scarf sold for between $2 and $10.)


Vera Paints a Scarf exhibit. Photo courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.

In addition to examples of Vera’s work, included in the exhibit are several videos produced by the company back in the day, which help to tell the complex yet fascinating story of Printex from humble beginnings to corporate success.

Vera sold Printex a few years before her death in 1993 (George died in 1962). Since then the brand has changed hands a few times. As far as I can tell the most recent sale was to a holdings company based in Singapore. New issues of Vera’s designs are distributed through licencing deals.


Photo courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.

Hurry hurry, if you’re in the NYC area Vera Paints a Scarf: The Art and Design of Vera Neumann  is on now through January 26, 2020. If you can’t make it, check out the museum website.

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IMG_20200110_134442128To me, fashion is an ever-changing art.

Vera Neumann (1907-1993), American artist, business woman.

She is known for her line of scarves but there is oh-so- much more to Vera Neumann.

Check back on OverDressedforLife tomorrow for the full scoop.


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On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … 




… a good laugh. 

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On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me … 




… a man in an Oxford shirt. 

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On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … 



… a world’s fair. 

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On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … 




… a lesson on good manners. 

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On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … 




… a new hair color? No thanks! I’m happy with my life as a redhead. 

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