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Posts Tagged ‘fashion news’

If you’re feeling down internally, make yourself look bomb externally. Whenever I’m like so bummed, I will make sure my outfit is extra on point that day so that I feel really good.

Bella McFadden (AKA Internet Girl), stylist and fashion retailer on Depop.

Depop is a shopping/resale app based out of London. Ms. McFadden is an internet sensation, having done quite well on Depop reselling and restyling thrift store finds (she buys a lot of quirky new stuff, too). She says she’s the number one seller in North America. She also offers what she calls “bundles” or basically a styling service. (Reminds me of Stitch Fix but for clients all about thrift clothes and specifically interested in 90s/Y2K style.) Click here to see on Youtube how Ms. McFadden puts together her bundles.

I agree with Ms. McFadden’s sentiment. We’re all feeling a little bleak after pandemic year 2020, but I can’t think of a better way to lift the spirits than to plan a stellar outfit and wear it!

Check back on Wednesday for a little surprise inspired by Ms. McFadden.

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When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco on the occasional Sunday afternoon my father and I would drive to Chinatown, park (because you still could), and walk around looking in all the shops. The stuff in the stores was fun to peruse but I was more captivated by the older Chinese people I saw strolling along Grant Street and the unique way they dressed. Their style was was bold and bright – mixing patterns with checks, layering unexpected color combinations such as red with yellow, and sporting something like my Mary Janes but made from black fabric (they looked so cute and comfortable).

Fast-forward quite a few years and not only is Chinatown style still thriving (with a new generation of older people), but we have a recently published book on the subject by photographer Andria Lo and journalist Valerie Luu, Chinatown Pretty: Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors (Chronicle Books, 2020).

As second generation Asian Americans, Lo and Luu have a shared fascination with the clothing of poh pohs (grandmas) and gung gungs (grandfathers) in San Francisco Chinatown. Curious about the people behind the clothes, they began to approach individuals on the street and ask how they put their outfits together. “The Chinatown seniors’ dress and demeanor,” the authors explain, “also reminded us of our own grandparents – their permed hair, their sock-and-sandal combinations, and the way their expressions could switch between extremely tough (and intimidating) and overwhelmingly affectionate.”

Their interest turned into a book, which covers six city Chinatowns – SF, Oakland, LA, Chicago, Manhattan, Vancouver, BC. – and dozens of stylin’ seniors. The people are as varied as the clothing with ages ranging from 60 to one woman over 100. Most immigrated decades ago from China or Vietnam, and they have worked as seamstresses, gardeners, store clerks, vendors, accounts, and social workers. Each person featured shares a lot or very little of their story and the authors say that 90 percent of the people they approached declined to be photographed or interviewed.

A theme among those featured was that their style is unintentional. They just wear what they have, some of it vintage, some hand-me-downs or purchased on sale. “At my age we don’t care about fashion,” says Show Chun Change from Vancouver Chinatown. “We just wear what’s comfortable.” How it’s all put together is more of a practical consideration, such as layering to keep out the cold. One gentleman had hand stitched several hats together for warmth and another used safety pins to close a buttonless vest, which made for a very cool look. I love that their style came from their ingenuity. (See slideshow.)

Several among the group do dress with intention. Anna Lee is in her 90s and immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in 1989. She worked as an accountant and a social worker and although now retired she still enjoys dressing well in her custom-made dresses, high-waisted pants, and silk blouses, all accessorized with beaded necklaces she makes herself. (See first picture in slideshow.)

Another woman’s more artistic flair reminded me of the Advanced Style set, a group of older women in NYC who have become style superstars thanks to photographer Ari Seth Cohen. Dorothy G.C. Quock (called Polka Dot), 75, was born and still lives in SF Chinatown and works as a tour guide there. (See picture nine in the slideshow.) Growing up, Polka Dot spent a lot of time where her mother worked as a seamstress at the sweatshop that manufactured Levi’s:

As a preschooler, she got her first experience trimming thread ends. In second grade, she learned how to use an embosser to stamp the Levi’s logo onto the leather tag. At age ten, she mastered the buttonhole, which appeared on Levi’s before zippers became the norm.

I enjoyed the glimpses into these people’s lives and I also appreciated that the authors included a brief history of each of the six Chinatowns.

Chinatown Pretty is a fun read, a visual treat, and important documentation of an overlooked segment of fashion history.

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I’m a big fan of skirts. Worn with a t-shirt or light cotton blouse, a skirt is easy and comfortable yet still a nice look.

Skirts are a go-to option for my At Home Attire ensembles. I made the one in this photo from a novelty print (ferns) cotton fabric. I’ve paired it with a cotton t-shirt in gray and added a cropped cardigan in light green, which picks up the lighter green shade in the skirt. The shoes are patent leather ballet flats, which are as comfortable as slippers!

Notice I’m wearing jewelry. Just because I’m hanging at home, doesn’t mean I’m not putting on some bling. Rings are my favorite and I enjoy looking at them while pausing at my writing desk, searching for just the right word or taking a break to stretch.

Tune in again for another installment of At Home Attire.

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That’s me and my grandmother, she looking lovely in her caftan.

I recently attended a Webinar discussion on the future of fashion during the pandemic with a panel of women who work in the business; one panelist mentioned that she thought entertaining at home was going to be a trend.  She predicted that by next year designers will have a dedicated line of at home wear.

I think she’s on to something and I’m reminded of my stylish grandmother. When she was elderly and could no longer go out, at home every day she donned colorful caftans and leather mules. (She also still dyed her short pixie-cut hair and had regular manicures – up until she died at age 84.)

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Caftans by Stella McCartney, Fall 2020 as seen in Harper’s Bazaar. 

My wardrobe includes items that are what I call, At Home Attire. In pre-pandemic days, I would change out of street clothes when I got home and slip into “something more comfortable,” which might be a pair of silky pajamas or a long cotton dress. Now that I’m spending more time at home, I’m inspired by my grandmother and I try to make an effort to look presentable every day.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my newly created outfits. Stay tuned.

 

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Imagine – a standard house dress c.1950. Today this is a dress someone might wear to a special occasion.  Ha! Image from Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume & Style, DK, 2012. 

We’re not going out and showing off what we’re wearing the same way. Things like stiletto shoes, skinny jeans, corset dresses feel unimaginable for a long time in terms of not having reasons to wear them. Soft, drapey things were already a place we were heading toward, but now they’re a psychological comfort for people. There’s been a comeback of things like house dresses and flats for home. We’re looking for security blankets in what we’re wearing.

Sarah Liller, San Francisco based fashion designer.

This quote is from an article in the Datebook section of the SF Chronicle, The Coronavirus and Social Movements Gives Fashion a Reality Check, July 3, 2020 by Tony Bravo. Click here for full article. 

Yes! Let’s bring back the house dress.

What is the pandemic’s effect on fashion? We were already pretty casual and if there’s any shift it will be toward even more casual. Picking up takeout food a few weeks back I noticed a guy getting out of his car in shabby shorts and slippers. Clearly he rolled out of his house and into his car in what he’d probably been wearing for days. As we spend more and more time at home, we’re getting out of the habit of dressing and the additional stress of moving about in public is taking a toll on what little desire some of us had in making any effort at all.

I agree with Ms. Liller that people now more than ever want comfort and a feeling of security, which can be found in loose-fitting draped clothing in soft fabrics. So long anything tailored. I see cotton knit unstructured jackets, large scarves, slouchy hats, baggy pants, oversized t-shirts, chunky sweaters … silhouettes that we can snuggle into and feel protected. What I will look for is different takes on these standard items of clothing. Perhaps textured fabrics, creative layering, interesting use of accessories.

What I hope to see is masks everywhere on everybody. Fashionable people will get creative with their masks, but any mask is a positive statement in my book.

 

 

 

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Marc Jacobs strikes a pose in Harper’s Bazaar, May 2020. Photo: Zoey Grossman.

I was leaving my shrink one day in a Celine leopard coat and rhinestone hair clips – I was done up. I noticed this sanitation worker staring at me and thought he was a hater, but then he said, ‘Love that outfit, man, you go.’

Marc Jacobs – American fashion designer.

I love that his handbag, by Hermes, has a cup holder.

Marc Jacobs is a controversial designer, but I have always liked him. Often his designs are vintage inspired, which appeals to me.

Word has it that Jacobs has lost his way in fashion. I took a peek online at his spring 2020 show and he’s all over the map. There’s no cohesion to the line, which includes 40s-inspired suits, 70s-style maxi dresses, 60s mini-dresses and some avant-garde dresses a la Balenciaga. All colors, all patterns, shapes, silhouettes are included. Hats run the gamut, too.

In total contradiction, the show itself was minimalist. It took place in a large empty venue with no runway, none of the usual fashion show hoopla. Just the audience and the models, who initially came out all together and walked between and past the audience, reconvened in the back and then came out one at a time, keeping a reasonable pace (nice for journalists and anyone who really wants to see the clothes).

I read that since the shutdown Jacobs has been posting selfies on Instagram. That’s got me wondering what his post-pandemic designs will be like.

 

 

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samiraGreat style is about more than the way we wear our clothes. It is also how we see and occupy space in the world around us.

Samira Nasr, the next editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar.

Last week Hearst Magazines announced that Samira Nasr will take the reigns from Glenda Bailey, who had been the HB editor for 19 years.

Ms. Nasr is the first Black woman to be appointed to such a position in the magazine’s 153 year history. She started her fashion career as an assistant to Grace Coddington at Vogue and she also worked for a time as fashion director for Elle. Most recently Ms. Nasr was the fashion director at Vanity Fair.

Ms. Bailey steps down at HB but she will still walk the hallways of Hearst headquarters working as “global consultant” which, as I understand it, means she will connect (make deals?) fashion marketers with Hearst magazine editors.

Congratulations to Ms. Nasr! As a subscriber to HB, I look forward to something new and exciting.

Farewell to Ms. Bailey, who kept HB alive and thriving during some really challenging times in magazine publishing.

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When we think of American style, we think of among other things, jeans. More specifically we think Levi’s Jeans. But have we ever considered the story behind the iconic brand? It’s an interesting one and locals in the Bay Area have a unique opportunity to learn about Levi Strauss the man and his jeans.

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Levi Strauss never wore jeans himself because in his day jeans were for manual labor workers and he was a businessman.

On now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is Levi Strauss: A History of American Style. Featuring over 250 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, this exhibit sets out to tell the story of German immigrant Levi Strauss and how he went from a dry goods merchant to THE man behind our beloved blue jeans.

Born in 1829 in Bavaria, as a young man Strauss immigrated first to New York to work selling dry goods. He then moved to San Francisco during the end of the Gold Rush to expand the family business.

Meanwhile, Northern California tailor Jacob Davis was hearing from workers that their pants were not holding up to hard wear and tear. He had an idea to place rivets at key stress points on the pants. He had the idea, but not the funds to push it forward. In comes Strauss and the two men worked together on a patent. That was the start of a business venture that is still impacting fashion today.

 

Included in this extensive exhibit are photos of Strauss’ hometown in Germany, decades of Levi’s Jeans advertisements, Hollywood film clips showcasing Levi’s, a 1974 Gremlin car with Levi’s interior upholstery, and many original Levi’s garments from early overalls to a leather jacket worn by Albert Einstein to an array of distinctive re-purposed Levi’s Jeans. It’s the largest public display of the company’s archival items ever gathered and it’s exclusive to the CJM.

One thing that struck me about the Levi’s story, something I had not thought about, is the evolution of jeans. Strauss was clever at expanding the desire of his product for the working man –  to the cowboy, to the teenager, and eventually to women in 1918 with “Freedom-Alls” and in 1934 with the first jeans line for women called “Lady Levi’s.” Beyond that, over the decades jeans became statement pieces for rebels, hippies, and rock stars proving that Levi’s Jeans have something for everyone.

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Strauss and Davis were granted their US patent in 1873.

In addition to the fashion story, Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is a local Jewish story. Lori Starr, Executive Director of the CJM says, “The exhibition will contextualize the Jewish experience for twenty-first-century audiences, offering insight into the history of San Francisco and its Jewish population, the story of an iconic element of American style, and the inventive spirit behind it all.”

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style is on now through August 9, 2020 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street at 3rd St. in San Francisco. 

Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

 

 

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Dressy sneakers for girls available at Myara Children’s Boutique in Lafayette. 

In addition to this blog, I write a fashion column for the Lamorinda Weekly. To kick off the holidays my latest column is all about dressing up.

Check it out: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1319/Looking-Good-in-Lamorinda-Dressing-up-for-the-holidays-and-beyond.html

Let the crazy season begin!

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Recently I popped into a clothing boutique that I visit maybe three or four times a year. Sometimes I buy, sometimes I don’t but, I’m always open.

The lone saleswoman was pleasant but completely uninterested in customer service. I explained that I know the owner and have written up the shop a few times and handed her my card. Although this wasn’t an interview, as I looked around I asked a few questions and I got friendly but short responses because the very nice woman was  more  interested in … texting. Yes, she was focused on her phone and continuing what I can only assume was a very important text conversation.

Not only was I a potential customer, I’m a fashion writer! It seems to me that part of the job of a salesperson is interacting, right? Tell me about the new merchandise, tell me about what’s coming in for fall. Tell me what you’re excited about or what I should be excited about. That’s how sales are made. Maybe not right then, but next time when a customer needs something she will remember that helpful woman in that charming boutique. In my case, often I will walk into the shop with no intention of writing about it but I get inspired and that can result in a post and/or a mention on Instagram and that equals free publicity! Not to mention, I just might make a purchase.

By contrast I had gone into another women’s boutique a few weeks ago and met a lovely saleswoman who chatted with me, noticed what I was looking at and filled me in on the details – “… those pants are all cotton, screen printed in Japan.” Twice I’ve posted that shop on Instagram.

Retail is hurting, we all know that. Thanks in part to the popularity of Internet shopping, bricks and mortar are shutting left and right. All the more reason for shops still open to step it up when a customer walks in, and keep in mind that they can walk right back out with a good or a bad impression.

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