Crisis in Denim is Actually Pretty Impressed

I’ll never forget one of my favorite sweaters. I was in ninth grade, and the sweater was a charcoal grey wool cardigan with a small royal crest on the left side offering a tiny pop of red and yellow. It was Benetton, and the pride of my wardrobe. Even when I was young(er) I had a thing for simple, understated clothing in neutral colors. Of course, my peers were not impressed, since the Benetton logo wasn’t emblazoned across the chest. I don’t remember getting a single compliment on my Benetton cardigan unless I did some serious fishing.

Which is why I was not surprised to find that my favorite Olympic garb has been the grey jackets that the U.S. team members competing in indoor sports have been wearing on the podium during the medal ceremonies. I especially love that they are cinched at the waist and longer in the back with black piping and a simple patch on the side. Because I am a big fan of symbolism I especially like the 50 little notches on the back representing 50 states. Forget the bright ensembles worn for the opening ceremony. This simple jacket paired with black track pants has been my favorite Olympic wear.

I did have to laugh at a couple articles, especially this one in Forbes criticizing the understated silvery grey as not being patriotic enough, since apparently the American flag

I bet I would look almost as cute in this jacket as Missy Franklin does. Plus, I could swim 500 meters– it would only take me like an hour and a half.

sewn on the sleeve and the giant “The United States of America” across the back still leave room for confusion.

Also, apparently, anyone can buy one of these jackets for the low, low price of about $450. Enough people seem to have been sufficiently impressed with the jackets, because they are out of stock now.

If I can succeed in convincing the International Olympic Committee that wine drinking and New Yorker reading and sample-sale surfing are Olympic sports, I may just treat myself to one of these great silver jackets someday.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

For god only knows what reason, I had a dream the other night about Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life. Yeah, I know. My subconscious was pretty freaked out too.

After dreaming of that late 70s/early 80s sitcom about boarding school girls and their kindly house mother, I woke up with the overwhelming need to do some IMDBing.

Seen through a contemporary lens, the The Facts of Life had shortcomings. The show’s one African-American character had a somewhat belittling name (Tootie); another character made overtly violent threats at her classmates (Jo). My eight-year-old self didn’t understand this. Instead, I couldn’t wait each week to see the gorgeous, stuck-up Blair flip her blonde hair, flaunt her beautiful clothes, and reluctantly learn a life lesson.

When the world never seems to be living up to your dreams

What does this have to do with clothing? Well, in looking on IMDB, I found a picture of Blair and was immediately struck by how much her clothing resembles the clothes I see everywhere now—both in stores and out and about. I mean, I know the late 70s and early 80s are back. I see young(er) people wearing kicky little hats, shorts over tights, and oversized blazers. Still, I don’t think I realized just how MUCH the era was back until I saw  Blair’s platform open-toed sneakers, shortest of short shorts, and button-down midriff-tied shirt.

I was especially struck by the shoes. I guess because I was so little when the show first came out, I don’t remember platform sneakers from that era. Until my dream and subsequent IMDB session, I had figured they were a more modern outgrowth of the rise of athletic wear as fashion.

Although, I do have to say: Poor Mrs. Garrett. I mean, as much as viewers and characters alike loved her, she certainly got the short end of the stick in the costume department.

Ah well. As they say. You take the good you take the bad you take them both and there you have…

You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want & You May Not Want It Anyway

I am not a fan of stealing other writers’ ideas—especially because I think I should be the only one generating all the good ideas.

However, The Sartorialist recently wrote about that thing that sometimes happens, where you fantasize about owning a certain piece of clothing; then, once you buy it, it sits in your closet unworn.

Reading the 600-plus comments on The Sartorialist post, many of them quite touching, I was surprised at how common this experience is.

Blame it on Your Brain

I began mentally perusing not only my current closet, but the ghosts of closets past. I thought back on the grey and pink Lululemon gym bag with the polka-dotted lining and all the little pockets that I just had to have, then ran out and bought as soon as I received a small raise.  I use it every once in awhile but not as much as I thought I would, and it still looks new.

I thought back to my strapless, black lace Betsey Johnson dress. I wore it once but always felt a little too exposed in it. I would try it on every once in awhile just for fun. Then one time I found I could no longer zip it up all the way. I know I should consign it but I keep thinking I’ll suddenly lose my perpetual  ice cream craving or develop a tapeworm and suddenly be able to fit into it again, and feel great in it.

A quick, albeit clumsy Google search with the phrase “psychology behind not wanting something once you have it” yielded this article in Psychology Today, which says (and I’m summarizing it very simplistically) that one part of the brain controls the experience of “liking” something, and a totally different part of the brain controls the feeling of “wanting” something, so you can want something you don’t ultimately end up liking.

Whoa.

At least I don’t feel so bad about that Betsey Johnson dress anymore; I mean, it’s not taking up too much room in my closet, and I still want it. Maybe soon I’ll even like it.

Some Purchases Are Meant to be Burned

My New Blouse
I’ll keep this story short, as I really don’t need to relive it.

A couple months ago I picked up a very thin, peach-colored, French Connection cotton blouse at Loehmann’s. I figured it had ended up at a discount store because the batch had been sized wrong; even the smallest sizes seemed huge. Still, I figured it would go well with my olive-green linen blend Brooklyn Industries jacket, so for about $25 I figured what the hell and took it home.

Last week I decided to bust it out for running errands in the city. It was super hot and I figured I couldn’t go wrong wearing this flowy empire-waist blouse out and about.

It turns out, I could.

The Bad Good Samaritan
There I was feeling pretty cute if I say so myself until I got on the subway, found a good standing place, settled my Trader Joe’s bags between my ankles, and a woman offered me her seat.

You already know where this is going, don’t you? Continue reading

LINKS À LA MODE: THE IFB WEEKLY ROUND UP

Every week the Independent Fashion Bloggers network selects its favorite fashion blog posts of the week. I am honored to have made last week’s list, along with some other fashiontastic posts (yes, I just used the word fashiontastic. In this case, it’s warranted.). Happy reading…

LALM0727

Summer vs. Winter
Edited by: Emily of Sugar & Spice
It’s strange to think that while here in the UK we’re finally basking in a little sunshine, some places are entering Autumn (Fall!) and Winter. This week’s posts reflect the two hemispheres with posts on Fall trends and beach essentials. What a better time to be experiencing a little of summer in the UK as we welcome the Olympics to London this week! And did you know it’s the 66th birthday of the bikini? Plus, whether you’re shopping the sales this week or shopping away the blues, there’s a guide for you here: Continue reading

Buying Away the Blues

Just Doing a Quick Size Exchange at Nordstrom. I’ll Only be 5 Minutes. Really.

That’s not me. That is my jacket.
Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom

I have something I need to confess.

Last week, I self-pity shopped. It was a brief but highly successful retail therapy session that made me feel even better than a gazillion milligrams of Prozac mixed with a bottle of merlot and poured over a gallon of Edy’s Slow Churned probably could have.

It started innocently enough. I had an exchange to make at Nordstrom—one size blazer for another. I’d be in and out in five minutes.

But. Somehow on the short walk from car to mall, I started to feel liked I’d gained 20 pounds in two days. Before me appeared the face of every guy who had ever not texted or called me for a second date. I saw all my job applications in the reject pile on the desk of the editor at my dreamiest of dream jobs.

Then I bought a leather jacket, and I felt much better.

A Quick Lap Around the Store

This is also not me. My jacket, though.
Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom

I mean, it was the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and all bets are pretty much off when fall clothes are marked down by a third. Plus, it was almost closing time and the store was all but empty. Over the weekend it had been crowded, and wasn’t there the chance that I’d missed something great because someone had planted herself in such a way as to block  my view of the perfect top? Just in case I’d better do a quick lap around the floor.

In my defense, Really Irritating Internal Voice (RIIV), I had been wanting a short black leather jacket for quite awhile and hadn’t had much luck finding one I liked in my price range. But there it was. Continue reading

Mullet Over. Get it?

Eek.

The mullet may have seemed like a good idea for about 23 minutes back in the 1980s. Let’s face it: On the boys from Duran Duran, pretty much anything—including a hairstyle that was long and fringy in the back and short in the front—looked divine, especially if you were a 13 year old girl. But now the mullet has become synonymous with a whole lot of badness. In fact, when I want my hair stylist (to whom I give mad props) to trim more from the back and sides, I say “um, I think it’s still a teensy bit mullet-y,” and she knows what I mean.

The Mullet is Reincarnated in the Form of a Skirt. Yay.

Still, this season someone decided that designing skirts in the shape of the infamous hairstyle would be really smart. Ankle grazing in the back, short—sometimes absurdly so— in the front. I am far from being a fan of this style.

The mullet is also called “business in front, party in back.” The fact that the “business in the front” is knee length makes this mullet skirt not so egregious.

Now, admittedly, word lover that I am, I may just be reacting to the name, the word “mullet” conjuring up all kinds of shudder-worthy images from the 80s. Actually, on second thought, no. Mullet skirts are just ridiculous.

Six Degrees of Mulletness

I will say this, though. There are degrees of mulletness, and the embarrassing thing is that while wandering through Nordstrom the other day, I found myself pausing over a couple of the less mullet-y mullet skirts and having an “I wonder how this would look on me?” moment, which is always a dangerous first step. Something tells me that before the trend has vanished, I may have a mullet skirt hanging in my closet.

I promise I won’t get a mullet haircut, though.

Whither Worishofers?

You guys are cute and all. I just don’t think it’s going to work out.

After a recent shoe debacle that involved a pair of red Timberlands, the soles of my feet, and blisters the size of the drachma before Greece switched to the Euro, I began anew a quest for red sandals.

While on my journey I found myself regularly seeing these cute, well-priced cherry-red sandals by some brand called Worishofer. (When I went to Google them I remembered the brand as “Warshofsky” and found out about David Warshofsky who apparently is a TV actor who gets a lot of work, and also about Keith Warshofsky who is a criminal attorney in Tampa whom I hope I never have to call but you never know.). Then, I started noticing them on feet tooling up and down 7th Avenue in Park Slope the other day. Suddenly, they were everywhere.

Anyway, these sandals looked like the consummate old-lady shoes.  A little pattern cut into the leather. Thick-corked soles. Other styles had laces. They even had a medical-looking “plus” sign branding them as orthopedic shoes. So I just knew they were so grandma-like that I would never, not for one minute, be hip enough to wear them. Continue reading

The Power of Goodbye

I like to think I’m pretty decent at what I like to call “wardrobe management” — regularly weeding out old clothes to free up closet space.  Though I confess that I am sometimes overly optimistic that I will be able to introduce an old piece back into the rotation, having been successful on a few occasions, the most notable being the Short Gap Black Cardigan Resurrection of 2008.

Still, with my recent realization that I need to have two seasons’ worth of clothes at the ready, I decided to go through my wardrobe with a more critical eye.

It occurred to me that each item I chose to relinquish had a little piece of my life attached; so I figured I’d write the stories down rather than just let them vanish into the re-fashioNYC donation bin situated handily in my basement. So here’s what I gave away.

The olive green prairie skirt, worn in Barcelona. I am also holding a Tumi bag that I just got rid of. It was about 15 years old and didn’t owe me anything anymore.

*An olive green prairie skirt I bought at Loehmann’s for $15 for a 2007 trip to Barcelona. It was perfect for bumming around the gorgeous city by day and wearing to dinner by night.

*A red and black plaid Guess coat I bought on sale at Macy’s for $83 on a spur-of-the-moment trip from Boston to the city.

*Victorian-style boots by Miz Mooz, complete with little buttons up the side that, thankfully, I didn’t actually have to button. I only wore these boots a handful of times, since they turned out to be comfortable only if I was standing still on a plush carpet and had just swallowed a handful of Aleve and washed it down with a martini. Professional organizers say you never even miss the things you throw out, but I am a little sorry I didn’t try these with some gel soles before giving them up.

*A pair of chocolate brown Aldo boots I bought with mom on one of our first outlet trips. I’d gotten three or four seasons out of them, and I was, ahem, just plain sick of them.

*A pair of Louie jeans bought at Anthropologie around 2004 that were my dressy jeans, then my work jeans, then my bumming-around jeans, until I couldn’t demote them any further.

Once you’ve moved across the country– twice– with the same black sweater, it’s time to let it go.

*A black sweater I bought at Banana Republic when I first moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I bought it before I had lived in Arizona long enough to see why sweaters there goon sale for so cheap.

*A pair of grey boots that looked like these beauties (third photo down) but were a fifth of the price. Boy, that style came and went pretty fast.

I wonder whose story these clothes will be part of next.

The Bronx is up and the Battery’s Down

New York, New York it’s a hell of a town…

I was all set to wax rhapsodic about this ad I saw on the subway and carry on and on about how it encapsulates so much of what I love about New York and how we may all be so different but we really coexist and do it quite nicely, and so what if we’re judgmental about shoes when really we respect one another’s fundamental beliefs blah blah and blah.

And then, I noticed a typo in one of the sign’s nine words. Just like that, my goodwill toward humankind — the ad-writing portion of humankind in particular — evaporated. Le sigh.

The ad is still pretty funny, though.