In It to Pin It

A few years back I was hired to style a finance expert who regularly appears on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, etc.  What I learned while working with her is that, although they supply commentators with nada wardrobe-wise, these networks are relentless with their wardrobe requests.  One news giant (allow me to be evasive) was particularly unscrupulous and would send direction of this flavor: “Please no pants, and wear shorter skirts.” It’s worth noting that after this appeal, they switched their format to round-table (vs behind a desk) to ensure lots of leg-shots.  Good times.

While all were guilty of putting the “direct” in direction, typically the organizations had more reasonable (and less exploitative) requests.  For instance, a different news outlet that shot primarily from the torso up asked this client to distinguish herself by creating a “signature look.”  For her, this was akin to receiving a wedding invitation that specified “garden casual attire.”  The point is that people who are not stylists rarely want to think that hard about what they need to wear.  My immediate instinct was to try incorporating a brooch/pin into her look because I couldn’t remember ever having seen a commentator wear one.  My go-to, of course, then and now is Alexis Bittar.  The lucite pins we chose were a HUGE success and not only garnered kudos from the network, it registered in her viewer appeal ratings.  Which leads me to the point of this post: YOU TOO SHOULD WEAR PINS.  As evidenced by my experience, they are NOT for old ladies only and ARE an easy way to distinguish yourself from the masses. Lucky for you I recently previewed AB’s stunning fall collection I have identified next season’s IT pin.  It’s a diamond-encrusted snake acting as the pistil of a lucite flower and it is to die for (above).  No link yet as it has not yet been released but will be soon!

Wimbledos and Wimbledon’ts

Chris Quinn gets served literally and figuratively.

As a parent of two small fries, I’ve been trying to embrace the “teaching moment.” Recently while in the grocery store my four year old and I crossed paths with a woman who had bathed in perfume moments before causing Lilli to shout, “Mommy! WHO STINKS?!”  It was obvious to me this was a teaching moment.  Clearly the lesson was to lower your voice so you don’t get caught saying what you really think.  Wait a minute.  On second thought, maybe the lesson was supposed to be to not say unkind things?! Damnit!  I never claimed to be a pro.  I’ll tell you who is, though – Kim Clijsters.  Not only is she a pro at tennis but she is also a pro at life.  She recently took the teaching moment to new heights during one of her matches at Wimbledon.  She had a heckler that was so obnoxious he moved her to invite him onto the court to face her.  As is well known, at Wimbledon one can only play in all-whites and this man hadn’t the proper attire. Undaunted, Kim grabbed a skirt from her bag and made him stuff himself into it.  Unsurprisingly he was unable to follow his own technical advice and failed in spectacular fashion on the court while looking like a sausage personified.  Needless to say, he got schooled.

While we are on the topic of teaching moments, allow me to use the Royals at Wimbledon to illustrate a few lessons I’ve been forever preaching.  Namely:

  1. Embrace prints (points to both Kate and William for this and also that random third Royal)
  2. A textured tie, like Will’s knit, is a welcome change for a warmer season
  3. I can and will kill for Kate’s hair
  4. Everyone looks hotter in sunglasses (take note random third Royal and, also, please tear that bow from its perch)

Witness:

What to wear sky diving

Me (in Missoni) and my badass 72 year old dad pre-skydive

At least once a day, every day, I’m consulted on what to wear while doing/attending SOME thing.  Typically that thing is not sky diving but this past weekend it was; And the question came from within.  The instruction given from the facility was to wear comfortable clothing and lace-up sneakers.  In my world comfort is trumped by a million different factors and therefore I don’t own multitudes that would fit that description.  In the end I chose a pair of black and hot pink Nike athletic pants that I wear to play tennis in the cold plus a black tank top and Adidas Stan Smith sneakers.  Little did I know that this look would NAIL IT.  Apparently sky diving culture embraces and exults extremely loud, tight, printed pants.  This was verified by one of the instructors who approached me as if I was a veteran flyer (this was only my second time) based solely upon my bottom half.  Needless to say, I felt triumphant, despite the fact that I was uniting myself with folks in some of the ugliest pants I have ever seen in my life.  No matter: when in Rome.

Loud, tight, printed pants was but one of two trends that I identified on Sunday.  The other happened to be the no clothes or bikini bottoms only sky diving trend.  This raised so many questions for me, not the least of which were:

  1. Who is slated to wear the issued harness after said harness was rubbing the sensitive areas of the naked sky diver?
  2. And if that next person is slated to be me, will the harness be cleaned in some fashion?
  3. And, more specifically in WHAT fashion?
  4. And how thoroughly?

This was scheduled to be a rated G sky diving adventure to celebrate my dad’s 72nd birthday and yet these were the questions and the imagery with which we we were confronted as a family.  I’ve faced many things with my father and siblings through the years but naked folks jumping out of planes in our full collective view has not been one of them.  Until now.

Here are those pants I mentioned:

If you want to appear to be a sky-diving insider, go loud or go home. Or go naked.

Somehow the debate about men’s shorts rages on

I was pumped about summer vacation for exactly 72 hours until:

  1. I spent 48 of those 72 hours applying sunscreen to tiny necks and backs
  2. “Bored” became a leader in my kids’ vocabulary
  3. Spontaneous fist-fights erupted in my house at regular intervals
  4. Littles began waking up before 6am, despite black out curtains, because the sun somehow still peeks through

People, it is not even real summer yet.

In addition to the above list of affronts, the debate about men’s shorts seems to have extended beyond what Linette Lopez and I tackled a few years backAs Quartz confirms, there are an increasing amount of folks who take the position that men should never wear shorts. I consider that an extreme opinion and wish to defend the right of men to regulate their body temperatures as best as they can.  I understand that in places like England shorts are abandoned as part of the right of passage into manhood but here in the good old USA, shorts are hugely relevant (case and point: New York City in the middle of August) and are part of American culture in much the same way as denim.  To me, the problem is in the execution not in the garment itself.  This goes back to our cargo shorts debate (which, by the way, was published a full year BEFORE the Wall Street Journal took on the same topic and got a TON of media attention for it).  Basically too often we see men wearing oversized, overstuffed shorts and, in effect, ruining it for everyone else.  If men would, as a whole, commit to wearing streamlined styles like, for example, the Theory model pictured above, I don’t think shorts would have such a bad reputation.

I’m sure I will get a million texts and emails saying that flat-front shorts don’t work on every body type but in fact they do work on most.  If your waistline doesn’t support them then let’s not blame the garment.  Put down that fifth beer and back away.

Standing O or Hell No: The Tony Awards 2017

I can point to many times in my life when my tendency towards stream of consciousness has gotten me in trouble.  For instance in my Goldman Sachs days, while attending a productivity seminar, the presenter asked the group for our understanding of “posting.” My hand shot up.  (It is important to pause and note that I had been riding motorcycles with my brothers the previous day.)  I blurted out that posting is when you are on your bike and go around a sharp turn and kind of drag your foot a little bit.  She looked at me with the pure disgust I clearly deserved considering my answer was solid proof I had been daydreaming for the whole first hour.

I find myself in a similar predicament today as I try to conjure up something relevant to say about the Tony Awards because, confession: I don’t pay attention to Broadway either.  I know that, to many, that is akin to admitting I don’t like puppies or ice cream but it’s true; And its reality is preventing me from both recognizing the attendees AND from writing anything that has to do with this particular awards show.  What it is NOT preventing me from is commenting on the outfits NOR from (stream of consciousness alert!!) singing every Tony! Toni! Toné! song I know (especially Feels Good) because they’ve all been running through my head on repeat ever since I realized the Tonys were showing last night.

I AM A LIVING NON-SEQUITUR.  Here I go again…

The primary thing that struck me about the Tony red carpet was the sheer number of patterns worn.  My heart was aflutter!  Ask any of my female clients my feelings on a patterned dress/gown and they will dutifully repeat two words: HIGH VALUE.  Such is the voluminous Zac Posen (above) worn by Liu Wen.  I feel that if Rebecca Taylor met Zac in a dark alley she’d find a way to punish him physically for coming up with this design first.  Standing O!

Fortunately for me I sometimes dabble in unsavory television programs like UnReal from which I recognize Denee Benton.  (Hot damn that show is GOOD.  The premise makes it sound like trash but the production value is high.  Trust me.  Or if you don’t trust me, the proof is in its Peabody Award.)  The production value of this Oscar de la Renta is also high.  It’s unusual and lovely and is super fun against that background.  Standing O!

 

Rachel Chavkin’s marvelous dress in one word: MOOD.  Standing O!

 

Badgley Mischka gets top marks for this splendid black and white print worn by Laura Osnes.  My only edit to this look would be to trade up for a bright red lip.  Otherwise she is perfection.  Standing O!

 

While not technically a pattern, Chrissy Tiegen in Pamela Roland is supreme.  She’s had so many successes on the red carpet this year and can count on me to keep cheering her on!  Standing O!

 

And one more for the non-patterned but severely stunning category: Cynthia Erivo in custom CG Studio.  Standing O!

 

It would be criminal – CRIMINAL – to rob you of your chance to ogle a handsome and perfectly turned out gentleman like David Oyelowo.  Enjoy.  Standing O!

Oh what the hell – we have time for two!

Standing O, Orlando Bloom!  Always.

 

WW with Business Insider: How to wear a dress shirt

Men, when the proportions of your dress shirt and trousers make you look like a mushroom, it is time to rethink your strategy.  Luckily for you, Linette Lopez and I sorted things out for Business Insider in a few easy-to-follow steps.  See our latest collaboration here:

Gentleman, a few things to keep in mind about your dress shirt

Standing O, Hell No, or So-So: Cannes 2017

Apologies for interrupting a show already in progress: The Cannes Film Festival.  But I continue to receive a multitude of texts to the tune of:

“Cannes you please stop everything and blog some dresses?”

Faithful readers know I am incapable of ignoring a pun and so I will jump in late with a mini-review…

A few years ago I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years and her belly was protruding; So confident was I in my assumptions that I sang out “BABY!!!” and rubbed her stomach only to part ways and later discover she was NOT pregnant.  I had a similar overwhelming confidence when I viewed Nicole Kidman’s silver frock above.  I would’ve sworn it was a Gucci then learned it’s a Rodarte.  I need to quit being so cocky.  As I’m working on that, let’s call this So-So and move on to this:

Like Glenn Close in Basic Instinct, this Michael Cinco dress WILL NOT BE IGNORED.  Rightfully, it should not be ignored, for it is a wondrous thing. Witness Aishwarya Rai from this vantage point:

Standing O.

Speaking of vantage points…

When I was a child I remember being told that Satan takes on many forms. That frightened me.  Clearly I had no idea what true terror lurked out there because this Alexandre Vauthier hadn’t yet been designed.  It seems a fitting time to evoke Hell as in Hell No.

 

If Versace needed to update its resume, my suggestion would be to simply insert this photo of Uma Thurman. The technical fashion term “amaze-balls” comes to mind here.  What also comes to mind is Naomi Campbell wearing another version of this dress to the Golden Globes and also killing it.   Standing O.

A few things a stylist “buys” on a Monday

I’d rather swim all day in a heavily chlorinated pool with my eyes and mouth wide open than to sit for an hour in Starbucks.  I’m not sure what lies within the fumes of their coffee but each and every time I go there I stagger out nauseated and in need of fresh air. It’s the closest spot with free WiFi and has outlets galore, though, and so there is no end in sight to my suffering.

That intro has nothing to do with actual fashion, only my efforts to write about fashion. Which, in this environment have been seriously hampered.  So allow me not to tax my brain (or airways) further.  Let’s just look at the items that I helped people buy today.  It’s much more fun (and less toxic):

This photo requires no caption.

Gucci Ophelia Ankle Strap Sandals

Summer pocket square by Simmonet Godard

John Vizzone Suit

Gauchere pleated midi skirt

OK, no one actually bought this $3K Alice Archer kimono but I’m going on record to say I love it.

Standing O, So-So, or Hell No: MTV Movie/TV Awards

It’s a universal truth that if you attend an MTV event it is mandatory that you select your outfit from the following categories:

  1. See-through
  2. Micro mini
  3. Replete with sequins and/or gems
  4. Metallic
  5. Skin tight
  6. Confusing

Apparently Cara Delevingne (above) was coerced by Saint Laurent to submit to each and every grouping. However, while I don’t typically recommend shaving your head and also matching your lipstick to your boots, somehow her top quarter still looks stunning.  And that, in a nut-shell, is why she is a model.  Overall though: So-So.

Onto my personal favorite: Zendaya

If this Zuhair Murad dress was not entirely see-through then I would have to argue that it was too demure for an MTV event.  However, since her entire body is on full view like a menu in a restaurant window, it indeed satisfies categories #1 and #3 and is therefore acceptable fare.  Standing O!

 

Yara Shadidi’s face is absolute perfection.  (Doesn’t she resemble Chilli from TLC?!)  She is a glorious beauty but whereas I covet all of the pieces of her Gucci outfit separately, I’m unconvinced that they should all be playing on the same team.  I’m going to say So-So since each component has extreme independent merit and since this ensemble addresses categories #3, #4, and #6 and since I’d abandon all of my morals and good sense to have 1/10 of her natural beauty.

Another entry for “all of the above” :

Ok, ok, the entire outfit isn’t skin tight but the pants are.  Don’t argue with me.  This insane Balmain concoction is a straight up Hell No.

 

Listen, I LOVE Taraji P and the energy that she always brings to the red (black) carpet.  But even though she has pulled out another A++ hairstyle, I’m afraid her overall look is just a few accessories shy of this:

But still she remains TARAJI-Flipping-P and cannot merit a Hell No.  Instead I will impart a So So.

Standing O, So-So, or Hell No: Met Gala 2017

P Diddy casually (AFFECTEDLY) lounges on the Met Gala stairs to allow (USURP) Cassie’s spotlight.

Throwing a costume ball is always a huge risk considering that the success of the party hinges partially on the creativity of the attendees and their ability to interpret the theme.  Even though Anna Wintour rules the Met Gala guest list with an iron fist (in all likelihood that fist is chain mail), there will always be four classes of people: those who explore the theme and nail it, those who explore the theme and fail it, those who go rogue and do whatever they please, and those who just want to look naked at every event they attend.  (For the last group, my hubs suggested I create a new category: Standing O, Hell No, So-So or Ho.)

This year’s theme was Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. We could talk about this theme exhaustively (please let us!) but I suspect you want to see photos so I’ll keep this short.  Rei Kawakubo is first and foremost an artist, clothing happens to be her medium.  She balks at things like conventionality, boundaries, and often beauty and functionality and tends to design interstitial-ly.  This to say that little of her clothing is worn literally (i.e. straight off the runway) however, so much of what we have adopted into our fashion playbooks can be credited to her avant-garde vision.  For instance: black as a fashion color (NY, you should be on your knees), asymmetry, relying heavily on red in design, and wearing oversized garments. Even though you think you might not have ever seen anyone wearing Comme des Garçons, you have.  Any time you see this cute logo, know that is what you are looking at:

OK, back to the Met Gala and the four classes of attendees.  First up, those who explored the theme and nailed it.  Exhibit A: Ri Ri

No one said that good circulation was required for this event.

Not only is Rihanna from the first class of attendees, I think we can universally agree that she won the Met Gala overall.  If you’ve not already guessed this dress is Comme des Garçons and is actually IN THE EXHIBIT.  Sure it has a huge flower saddle bag hanging off her left side but that, folks, IS quintessential Rei Kawakubo à la her lumps and bumps theme.  Remind yourself, dear readers, this is a costume ball.  Standing O!!

Also nailing it in Comme des Garçons:

Of course it’s not flattering, it wasn’t intended to be!

This is so on-brand for Helen Lasichanh.  Note: only 8 party goers, including Helen, were brave enough to wear Comme des Garçons.  Standing O!

On to the second class – those who explored the theme and failed:

Question: do camel-toe shoes hurt as much as camel-toe jeans?

I’m not going to get too rough here, Katy Perry at least explored the theme in this Maison Margiela look.  She went BIG, she went RED, she went avant-garde, and unfortunately she also went a bit overboard.  I still respect her attempt so I’m going to assign her a So-So.

This Something About Mary hair-do would’ve worked better for 2013’s punk themed gala.

Ditto Celine Dion in Atelier Versace.  She tried.  Hard.  This is decidedly avant-garde but she is treading in the waters of Hell No.

Do my eyes deceive or are those shoes also fishnet?

Gigi Hadid’s Tommy Hilfiger is aiming for the “in-between” (gown and suit, masculine and feminine) but reads like a futuristic call girl.  The thigh-high fishnets throw it even further off course.  Hell No.

Third class citizens: those who went rogue.  I will only offer a few examples since this category holds the vast majority of last evening’s guests.

Her extension is very I Dream of Jeannie.

Indeed this is a costume but for a completely different party.  This gown should be going to an event that features an abundance of martinis, cigarettes, and fondue.  J Lo’s Valentino is lovely and she looks great but even though Valentino is an underwriter of the event, she only gets a So-So for ignoring the theme.

 

What does Selena Gomez’s ’90’s-esque Coach gown have to do with the in-between or avant-garde or art as fashion?  This is not a trick question.  The answer, of course, is NOTHING.  At least if you set out to be a non-conformist, my suggestion would be to wear something undeniably pretty or at the very least interesting.  Hell No.

 

It’s true that Miranda Kerr’s Oscar de la Renta also has nothing to do with the night’s theme but it is achingly pretty and I long to make it mine!!  Standing O for the dress and So-So to Miranda for not adhering to the theme other than to bring a red element into her look.

Last, and in this case also least, are those who attend every event looking naked.  They deserve no more air time and so I will give them a group Hell No and let you decide for yourselves:

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