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Annie - San Francisco, CA

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Entries in trend (14)


It's Back: J.Crew Catalog Theater

Now that the FashFilmFest is over (but will return in 2013!) I'm back to blogging! What better way to get back into the routine than with a favorite? By request and popular demand, I've got a new edition of J.Crew Catalog Theater, from the April catalog... The models are sad, sassy, confused, and wearing things we've seen before. But don't hold that against them! They're models, they can't do any better...


Fashion Trends I Don't Understand...

...sorry, sometimes I'm stupid. (File this one under "Rants"...)

Now that my general apology for my stylistic unintelligence is out of the way, let's get down to brass tax. I take issue with a few fashion trends I've been seeing over and over, and now I'm going to say something about it. I've sat by idly, watching the emperor shed his proverbial clothes for far too long, and now I'm reaching for the bathrobe. I have to. That willy is just too sad-looking out there in the cold like that.

Again, have some patience with me. I'm a (somewhat) older, more crotchety, more academic blogger than you young upstarts with your gorgeous selves in daily outfit posts, so perhaps I just don't understand. Maybe I'm David Letterman to your Jimmy Fallon and my routine is a little classic, but there's something to be said for the classics.

For instance, why not paint all of your fingernails the same damn color? I honestly do not get the fourth-fingernail or index-finger painted a contrasting color thing. What is that? ran out of Essie's "Splash of Grenadine" so you had to finish off your manicure with "Armed and Ready" instead? I don't buy it. No one could possibly find ten fingers of the same color so boring that they had to change up numbers three and nine. Is this a drug thing? Because that is the only answer I can think of. The legendary cocaine pinkie spoons of old have given way to this new odd-finger-out your party people know which fingertip to load.

And while we're on the subject of manicures...what's with the obsession over "nail art"? I thought that was relegated to the board of plastic fingernails on the wall at the manicurist's shop, but which no one ever actually ordered for themselves because they were too tacky for anyone who had any class. Seriously? Daisies and polkadots to match your outfit? Flames and lightningbolts? Mustaches & monocles? Leather & lace? Florentine paper swirls? Are you fucking kidding? This may be hard to hear for some of you (but with my readership, I suspect not) but, to put it in the vernacular: nail art is GHETTO. Don't do it.

And what about the special polishes that create a craquelature effect? (Ahem, let's leave the special effects to the paint department at Home Depot, okay?) Has technology made our lives so efficient that we have time to waste like this?


That's basically the whole point: why waste the time? If you get a professional manicure, it's thirty minutes to an hour MINIMUM door to door. If you do one at home it's probably fifteen to forty-five minutes. Who has the time to be changing nail colors with every outfit? That, and have you seen the "ombre" manicure ridiculousness? Clearly this is only something you can do at a nail salon because what idiot would buy five shades of blue nail polish to make this happen? Economically, this is a bad trend. OPI's bottles are now around $8.50 each x 5 = $42.50...You'd better hope those colors don't go out of style in the next six months or you'll be sitting on a whole lot of "Austin-tatious Turquoise" and getting zero return on investment. And it's not like you can consign used nail polish.

Not to say I haven't tried to do these trends. I have. I even have a bottle of OPI's "Gargantuan Green Grape" waiting in my medicine cabinet, but somehow I just can't get myself to break it open. I've also tried to do the glitter thing, but it chipped right away and I ended up with gold glitter in my gluten-free pizza dough. That's not as glamorous as it sounds, kids.

Don't get me wrong, I adore a lot of the "outfit of the day" girls, but I always get a little panicked when they go in for the manicure detail shot. How many hours of the week go to polish changes? Oy! I shudder to think. I'd rather spend that time reading email spam from mail-order-brides in Uzbekistan. I also completely and whole-heartedly admire anyone who has this level of fashion intrepidness that they don't care about the looks in askance they get with such weird fingernails. I applaud them and their bravery! But at the same time, I worry. I worry because they're probably in for a rude awakening, and like Holden Caulfield, I'd like to catch them before they fall off the edge of a cliff...

Floral pants from Anthropologie. There are like, three people in the universe who can wear these.

Now that we're done with the nail polish thing, let's discuss the floral pants thing. I know that florals are always big for spring, but on pants? Really? I mean we're not all 80 pounds here. Don't designers know that putting a big ol' print on the bottom half cuts out about 99% of their customer base? I know it looks great on some people, but let's get real.

Sloppy stripes, courtesy of weird tucking at J.Crew.

Also...and this is the last, I promise. What is the deal with tucking in just the front part of your shirt? We used to do this in grammar school when we had to tuck in shirts for dress uniform days but we got around it by just tucking in the front where the blazer opened... When did this become the cool thing to do? I get that you want to show off your Hermès belt buckle and what-not, but to me it looks sort of sloppy. I'm already having a hard enough time getting my sleeves to roll just so so that I can show off my arm party. Now you want me to tuck my shirt in just so too? That's a lot of just so juzhing for one busy girl to carry off for an entire day.

Like I said, perhaps I'm just a classicist. I like my fingernails all one color (usually in a shade of red or pink) and I like my shirts either in or out. Okay, so I am getting into the colored denim thing, but I don't do floral prints on the bottom, in fact, the most I'll usually do is a great Windsor check.

Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe that makes me...normal?


What I Wore: Arm Party

Bracelets by Banana Republic, Stella & Dot, BCBG, J. Crew, and Louis Vuitton.

Yes, I agree, I am late to this party, but people have been stacking bracelets for millennia so what's the big deal? As you probably know, I am much more of a ring and necklace gal than a bracelet fanatic. I wore them all the time a few years ago, but then adapted my interest to bigger statement pieces. Also, as a writer, I find it difficult to reconcile wrist bling with a keyboard - they just don't mesh well.

In the past few months I've been noticing a lot of the blogger gals picking up this trend however, ( in real life - not just outfit posts,) and I've been slowly working my way back to bracelets. My feeling is, you can't really do all three: ring, necklace, bracelet. You need to edit to just two areas of adornment to keep things chic and eye-catching. There can't be too many different areas of focus or the whole look gets cluttered.

So, I wear my bracelets carefully, and usually only when I'm wearing another accessory that's much smaller. I mix some old ones with new ones, and try to keep them all sort of neutral - lots of browns, blacks and metallics. I'm loving the leather wrap ones - and I'm so glad I held on to my Louis Vuitton "luggage tag" bracelet from years ago...

Although still wary - the trend may be just too trendy for me - I'm enjoying the result and the "new" statement location for bling.


The New Prep Mecca in TriBeCa

Mike Albo, you had me at hello:

Still, some items were so outrageously preppy, I felt my original odium for the style rising in my throat like bad grain-alcohol punch. A series of knit ties in bright colors, $49.50, brought to mind a tragically alcoholic dorm mate from college on his way to a football game, and a quilted patchwork tote, for $850, was something his equally blotto girlfriend would use to carry around her pumps and kegger go-cup.
Some items were just plain outrageous, preppy or not. A pair of $245 jeans with patches sewn all over them hung proudly in the center of the front room. (Aren’t we done with the whole fake-distressed trend?) A small glass case at the front of the store displayed vintage watchbands, belt buckles, aviators and pencils that have been chewed by the celebrated TriBeCan writer Max Blagg on sale for $25 each. Yes, that’s right —chewed pencils for $25. This is mostly a promotional gimmick — the store will soon offer copies of his book “What a Man Should Know” — but I couldn’t help but think of this as a trend, and imagined the poor, spidery Joyce Carol Oates sitting at an assembly line, gnawing away.

To be fair, most of today's Critical Shopper column in the New York Times was in favor of the new J.Crew Men's store in TriBeCa, but I just loved the scathing wit in that passage. That, and the image of Joyce Carol Oates gnawing on pencils...priceless!

After attending a prep school myself I don't think I'll ever be able to tolerate men in poorly-fitting navy blue blazers with brass buttons. True, our prep was here on the west coast which is surely very different than the time-honored, Eastern traditions of striped ties, croquet, regattas, gin-and-tonics on the lawn, and spring formals, but we every one of us aspired to the style. We still do - "we" as in "Americans". Ralph Lauren has brainwashed generations of shoppers into seeing the prep life and its inherent affluence as the total embodiment of the American dream. Tracing RL's influences, one goes back to the sportswear of Lacoste and the traditional men's haberdasheries of Paul Stuart, J. Press, and Brooks Brothers. Ever since, "preppy" has been the way most of America dresses, for better or worse.

Or, as a close friend of mine likes to say: "People buy Ralph Lauren because they don't know how to dress and it's always safe." I love the more formal stuff, but the casual, tennis-y, brunch attire? Do I hear crickets chirping?

Preppy is indeed the megatrend that Mike Albo mentions in his article, spanning not just one or two seasons, but decades. So many modern brands try to be preppy-esque that it's hard to distinguish between those who are really doing it and those who are aping the trend because it sells. The European brands stay away because it isn't their heritage, but the Americans are all over it: Milly, Kate Spade, Juicy Couture, and even Marc by Marc Jacobs show prep roots.  Another mention is Michael Kors, although the distinction is that Kors has always designed sportswear for the jet-setting woman; Ralph Lauren (and his descendants) has always catered to those who aspired to be one of those women. It's also interesting that other RL contemporaries, Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg, have stayed away from the prep and have developed their own design language and huge customer followings. 

J. Crew has always had preppy at its core, even back in the early 90s when it debuted and all of us snapped up those barn jackets by the bagload. It's certainly in their aesthetic, but there is always a new design story and an element of fun and surprise each season. A loud paisley pattern, a printed sweater, a touch of metallic. It's prep for the hip. Ever since the images of this new store have come out, I've been following its commentary along with my work colleagues - many of whom used to work for J.Crew. At first glance the store seemed a bit cluttered and even messy, and while the boozy-vintage atmosphere has been done before (although maybe not as publicly,) I did like the look of it. It's a pack of Marlboro reds and a bottle of Jameson. Classic, eclectic, stylish, down-to-earth, but with a whisper of danger - like Scott Fitzgerald and Cole Porter walked into a bar being run by Clyde Barrow and Kit from Badlands

A definite must for my next trip out to NYC in a few weeks!

For additional posts on J. Crew, please visit:
J.Crew in the Mailbox
Prep Luxe

For additional images/articles on the J.Crew Men's Store in TriBeCa, please visit:

J. Crew Men's Store Finally Opens, Won't Sell Us Alcohol - The Cut - New York Magazine

Now Serving the J.Crew Men's Shop - A Continuous Lean

Image by Kristi Garced of The Cut, New York Magazine

You Need a Little Something...

Barack Obama barrettes from Little SomethingStylish, crafty girls in San Francisco? Sure, just toss a cup of Blue Bottle in The Mission and you'll surely hit one square on her homespun. But how about stylish, crafty girls in SF who are also business-minded and press-worthy? Now that narrows the field quite a bit!

Enter Mara Greenaway and her line of chic, simple felt barrettes that are currently making a splash among the craft and celeb circles alike. Her line is called Little Something and it is entirely handcrafted in San Francisco of  American-made materials. 

Daisies and cupcakes or lace and embroidery, these barrettes are the kind of cute that will make you regress to first grade. When I was that age the "cool" girls in school had the best barrettes; when wearing a uniform, what else can you do to be different? I wonder when Ms. Greenaway will start making them in colors to match school plaids? Just a thought...

But don't go thinking these are just for little girls, big girls like them too! I especially love the lace barrettes - sophisticated and sweet.

Both Violet and Jennifer Affleck are fans, and Real Simple Family featured Mara's Days of the Week barrettes in last month's issue. Apart from the darling embroidery and applique-work, Little Something just released a new set of Barack Obama barrettes in red and blue - for your young Democrat. Who knew political could be so adorable? The Obama barrettes retail for $18 in Mara's Etsy shop, and $10 of your purchase price will go to the Obama for America campaign.

Mara let me know that additional products are in the works too, such as pillows recycled from old wool blankets, and possibly a reusable shopping tote. In any case, this is a local brand that's worth watching - and don't you always need just a Little Something?


My Eco-Tote, My Identity

BCBG eco-tote, Spring 2008One of my favorite stories of young professional girls is the classic soapy novel The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. (Trust me, if you’re someone working your way up in a company, it’s right there with Valley of the Dolls.) What made me fall hopelessly in love with the story was the author’s description of the young ladies of the typing pool carrying their lunches in defunct Bonwit Teller shopping bags...

Don’t we all do this? I love buying just a little something (usually a cosmetic) in order to get a small shopping bag to take for lunches! What I love more is spying the girls on bus and seeing their lunchbags in turn. The whisper of a Neiman’s butterfly, the stately lettering of Marc by Marc Jacobs, the mod ovals of Jonathan Adler, the white-on-black of Barneys, or the elegance of Diptyque – I’ve carried them all for lunches at one time or another. It’s the air of “purchase mystery” that everyone loves to play up for another day, even if the bag holds nothing more exciting than tuna salad with a side of grapes.

A classic Fauchon tote - eco-chic for years!Of course, these little paper gems convey a lot more than one’s purchase power; they’re a walking passport of one’s shopping travels. The chocolate-ivory stripe of Henri Bendel or the whimsical blue-and-red of Fred Segal show that one has gone coast to coast in the pursuit of style. Then there’s the famous bags of Fauchon, the Paris gourmet shop whose re-usable bags have been gifted and carried for decades. More than a shopping memory, all these little bags have been resused and recycled into fashion caché for years! In the case of Fauchon, carrying their tote meant you'd travelled to Paris (or 5th Avenue,) knew the non-touristy neighborhoods there, and probably had a sophisticated palette - not to mention a tin of fois gras at close hand...

Kenneth Cole "Use Me" toteNow we have our “eco-tote” craze... In the name of eco-chic, designers are now bringing us coveted bags to carry within our bags, just so we have something handy and equally chic to carry home mundane items from the neighborhood grocery or Walgreens. Still, the simple canvas totes are rife with implications of status, location, and income, as they serve as a walking billboard of a person’s demographic.

Yesterday, my Dad dropped off something I’d forgotten on a recent visit to my parents’ house. My Mom had packed it up in a canvas tote, and I didn’t even notice what it said during the hectic few seconds of getting it from my Dad’s car and running back into the office… No sooner had I returned to my desk than my colleague (a native New Yorker) made a comment…

Colleague: “Oh, what did you get from Clyde’s?”
Me: “What?”
Colleague: “Your bag – it’s from Clyde’s…”
Me: “Oh – it’s my Mom’s. What’s Clyde’s?”
Colleague: (turning away with a raised eyebrow) “It’s a pharmacy on Madison at 74th…”
Me: “Oh…yeah, I think my Mom likes that place.”

YSL tote as a fashion-show gift bagWithin five seconds, my borrowed eco-tote conveyed a message that someone (me, ostensibly,) had been to New York and shopped at a very exclusive (and expensive) pharmacy shop on the Upper East Side.

Just like the witty upside-down logo totes being given out for free at the upcoming Yves Saint Laurent fashion show (Eric Wilson's NY Times article), the tote conveys a message of being an insider, being exclusive, being in the right place at the right time to get the right eco-tote. So much more exclusive than a mere Muse bag, don’t you think?

Last year, Anya Hindmarch’s “I am Not a Plastic Bag” totes flew off of store shelves and became a hotly-bidded eBay commodity thereafter. According to The Bag Snob, Hindmarch stated at the beginning of this effort: “Our aim with this project has been to use our influence to make it fashionable not to use plastic bas. 'I'm Not A Plastic Bag' was designed to be a stylish, practical, reusable bag that would raise awareness of this issue and spark debate." I would venture to guess that everyone that bought the Hindmarch bag knew about the pitfalls of plastic long ago, but they simply wanted the latest must-have item. Personally, I hate it when someone says they're "raising awareness" - who is some designer to say I'm not aware? The rhetoric just smacks of smug superiority, especially as it concerns something as simple as "plastic is bad for you." Duh! The reason the bags sold out wasn't because of their enlightening abilities, but because everyone wanted to convey that they too cared about the environment while looking exclusive doing it.

Whole Foods/Lauren Bush Feed toteAt Whole Foods, you have one of two branded options to purchase there: the standard reusable green bag, or the famous Lauren Bush “Feed” bag – the proceeds of which go to feeding children in Rwanda. Now this is an effort whose awareness needs raising. For just $29.99, you can feed 100 children. Talk about a great product: affordable, well-designed, results-driven, and coveted. Everyone’s happy with this bit of brilliance, and it even zips up into a compact carrying case so your bag isn’t floating around in your handbag causing traffic jams among the wallet, cell phone, and eyeglass case.

But charity aside, what does the “souvenir” of your munificence say? This “Feed” tote tells the world that not only do you a) shop at a rather expensive grocery store (Whole Foods), but b) are a conscious, philanthropic being, who c) cares about the needs of children in under-developed countries. Now that is quite the message to send!

As with any trend that starts at the street, designers are now capitalizing on these eco-chic totes by designing into the trend and creating new “It” bags. A search for “canvas tote” on Etsy yields over 4,000 items, all made by small-production crafters and artisans. Not one to be late to any party, Target has an entire section on their website entitled “Reusable Shopping Bags” with totes priced from $9.99. Other retailers start out in the market inexpensively, such as the $20 “Use Me” bag from Kenneth Cole, or the $38 “Be Chic Buy Green” tote from BCBG last spring. But now, Marc by Marc Jacobs is putting out screened bags upwards of $100! Other designers are making limited editions, using the classic luxury brand method of creating a must-have item. Luxury branding in a canvas tote? Does that even make sense? Isn’t accessibility the whole point of this trend?

Continuing the thought, aren't designers setting themselves up in competition with themselves by creating low-end carry-all totes and high-end luxury handbags? Which bag will attract more attention and draw more covetous envy?

Marc by Marc Jacobs "Save My Pole" toteApplying Beaudrillard’s thoughts on semiotics, this trend in eco-totes is really just another way for us to express ourselves. They’re our outward representation of what we stand for, where we shop, and what we want to support. By being conscious of our ecology and ridding ourselves of plastic bags, we have generated a replacement that is literally a blank canvas waiting for expression – preferably a designer one.

Of course, if I really want to carry an eco-chic tote with a label, I’ll keep packing lunch in a stylish paper shopping bag like I have for years. Those babies are chic, and free with the purchase of something you're buying anyway!


Fall 2008 - Nuggets!

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In the "keep" category for Fall? Gold gold gold! True, all of the metallics from pewter to bronze gave a strong showing on the Fall runways, but as you head into the stores to do your shopping, be sure to scope out the gold selections... True, shiny gold garments have that 1950s air of an MGM bible epic - you know the ones where the Egyptian princess runs around in head-to-toe lame and flashes blue eyes from under carefully sculpted bangs? That, or a 1970s music-and-dance show: A Chorus Line, Solid Gold, etc...But this season the shine is sophisticated, adding a dose of glamour to the every-day. Take a fabulous brocade top coat, or an adorable, short cocktail dress in all-over gold. Add black tights and patent pumps and you've got quite the little number...

All images from


Stephen Burrows Jill Stuart Sophia Kokosalaki Aquascutum Christian Lacroix Nathan Jenden Marc Jacobs V. Wang Lavender Label  Nicole Mille Allegra Hicks  Tracy Reese  Barbara Tfank  Costello Tagliapietra  DKNY  Kai Kuhne  Givenchy  Naeem Khan  Vivienne Tam  Michael Kors  Monique Lhuillier  Oscar de la Renta Y & Kei Vera Wang


Fall 2008 - Suffocation Chic

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So many of fall's runway looks left me gasping for air! Not only because they're downright hilarious, but also because the poor models look like they're being strangled by the very beautiful clothes that we're all meant to buy. I hesitate to call this a trend because I'm not sure how successfully this will be interpreted in fashion reality, but this styling effect was present enough for me to take note!

It seems that the volume play on the upper half is not only limited to the shoulders; it doesn't seem to matter what the focus is, as long as its piled high with layers of fabric, furs, knits, and even ruffles of delicate chiffon. Some of these looks I found incredibly chic and beautiful - especially Giambattista Valli and Pollini. However, I know that I could never wear something that made me look like I had a luxury boa constrictor around my throat, or a gigantic layered woobie swaddling me. What's sexy about that? Okay, yes, the whole "peel back the layers" idea is a bit titillating, but c'mon - it's not like I'm a muppet.

Remember: "You're never fully dressed without a smile..." and these ladies don't look happy! Get ready to be strangled, choked and smothered!

All images from

Ann Demeulemeester Haider Ackerman Luisa Beccaria Pollini AF Vandevorst Giambattista Valli Iceberg Francisco Scognamiglio  Maison Martin Margiela  Costume National  Jean Paul Gaultier  Marios Schwab


Fall 2008 - Shouldering the Load

So many looks for fall have amped up the shoulder detail. Sometimes this is done successfully with a beautiful balance to the overall ensemble, drawing the eyes upward in the silhouette. Thinking back to the obvious precedents of the 1980s shoulder pads, and further to the strong shoulders of the 1940s and the Joan Crawford era, one realizes this is a difficult design style to do well. Of course, when it works, it's really something to see!

Christian Lacroix Giambattista ValliValentino

I like these first three because the forms created are unusual and different. They push the concept of shoulder volume in a sort-of strange way, but the looks are still wearable.

Marni Missoni Celine

These take things more structured and origami-esque, but the focus is still light and lovely. The detail enhances the overall design rather than becoming distracting. 

Alessandro Dell'Acqua ValentinoElie Saab

Once again, less is more with this design focus. I love how the Valentino look is tone-on-tone, light and airy. It's the same with Elie Saab - a bit of flou makes it feminine and eye-catching. A touch of texture and interest pulls it all together.

Celine Giorgio Armani Nathan Jenden

Now this is when things get a bit heavy-handed. Some careful editing would have really helped these three looks reach their full potential. I love the architecture of this Nathan Jenden dress, but the huge shoulder ruffles do nothing but compete with the wearer. The heavy knit loops on the Celine coat just look clunky, while the Armani ruffles are weighty and depressing.

Etro Iceberg Pollini Bottega Veneta

Giambattista Valli Giambattista Valli

File these under "hot mess"... Someone at Etro thinks that shoulder spikes are sexy on a cocktail dress, while the rest of us girls could have told them that was a bad idea. That dress looks like something a porcupine with super-powers would wear as a disguise. The Iceberg and Pollini looks are somewhere between Big Bird and boring, while the Bottega Veneta coat could be gorgeous but for the fact that I just want to brush away all the scrap fabric that somehow landed on the shoulders. Meanwhile, these two looks from Giambattista Valli are intriguing; part of me is totally enthralled by the structure and workmanship of these shoulder wraps, while the other part of me thinks that they look like a live bacteria that's eating the model alive. Or maybe it's a chunk of coral and the model is the rock? Not likely. And not likely to be worn by many either...


Fall 2008 - Send Out For Scotch

Fall is the traditional season for plaids and tartans - it's the crisp air that asks for the warmth of the wool and the autumn colors woven into it. This fall is no different, but I found that not only did designers go to plaids, (D&G dressed almost their entire collection in plaid,) but they also used a lot of whiskey tones overall. I also loved how Carolina Herrera layered her plaids and whiskeys and even added some highland toques with pheasant feathers for an especially luxe, glamorous "manor on the moors" look...
All images from

Plaid Power...

Carolina HerreraCarolina Herrera Carolina Herrera D&G D&G D&GRequiem V. Westwood Red Label  Just Cavalli  Karen Walker   Dsquared2    Preen  Y3  Martin Grant
Isaac Mizrahi

Tawny, Sherry, Caramel...

Akris Rue du Mail Brian Reyes DKNY Vivienne Tam Hermes Pollini Donna Karan  Prada