Celeb Sighting: Jenna Lyons (YES she is a celebrity)

A few days ago Jenna Lyons passed me in SoHo.  That I recognized her registered on her face and resulted in her picking up her pace ever so slightly.  Which makes me think I may have a latent stalker vibe (?!?) to which I've been blind.  I began feverishly texting my friends, as one does when one has latent stalker tendencies, to report this majestic sighting.  A few of the responses I received:

  1. WHO is that?!
  2. Oh my gosh - I LOVED her in The Office.
  3. Channing Tatum's wife?

Answers to the above:

  1. The former creative director and president of J Crew widely credited for reinvigorating the brand as it was slumping in the early 2000's.  She is a Damn. Fashion. ICON.
  2. That would be Jenna Fischer.
  3. That would be Jenna Dewan Tatum.

So what if no one else found this sighting as glorious and serendipitous as I did, I still wanted to chase her down to grill her (LATENT tendencies!).  Her rise to fame is fascinating to me.  Yes: FAME.  She began as a junior designer in 1990 and ascended not only to the highest ranks but became the de facto face of the company.  When word of her departure was released, it was reported that the decision was mutual.  That is code for: tumultuous but suppressed.  To quote Seinfeld: "It was the first mutual break up in relationship history!" Which is to say break ups are rarely ever mutual; And I suspect this one follows suit.  In any case, I would like to end with an open letter to Jenna:

Hi Jenna,

It's me, the stalker you saw on Broadway and Prince, AKA the Wardrobe Whisperer.  PLEASE for the love of all that is good and holy write a tell-all book immediately.  That is, if you're not already penning said book which I'm certain you must be.  It would be a completely missed opportunity to keep us in the dark.  I require details.  Please start from the beginning of the end.

Thank you,

WW

 

Did you just call me a dominatrix??

Yesterday my new super-cool-client's super-cool-and-ridiculously-smart boyfriend informed me that I practice combinatorics. I nodded in emphatic agreement and then asked what the H that means.  His response was too complicated for me to comprehend let alone remember (EVEN THOUGH I AM CLEARLY AN EXPERT IN THIS FIELD) and so I looked it up.  Combinatorics is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of finite or countable discrete structures in order to achieve optimal objects.  So, when I develop a look-book and create near-infinite (I am also an expert at hyperbole!) outfit permutations based on the finite pieces I purchase with my client during a shop, I am really demonstrating amazing mathematical capabilities. It's no wonder then why I'm sitting here currently waiting for NASA to light up my cell.  As I mull over my genius I believe, therefore, that my new title should be Combinatrix.  It's got a ring to it, yes?  In fact, I'm praying someone asks me to submit a resume for something (anything!!) so that I can showcase this title and skill.  Don't be surprised if each and every one of you is updated regarding (and asked to endorse) both of these on LinkedIn.  DO NOT LEAVE ME HANGING!  In the meantime, if any of you want to casually discuss The Pythagorean Theorem or maybe the Laws of Relativity, you know where to find me (obviously by the phone waiting for NASA).

Ask Wardrobe Whisperer: Belt + Suspenders?

Recently I was called in to end a family feud.  It was a father/son showdown regarding suspenders and whether or not they should be worn with a belt.  The answer is that both accessories were designed to keep your pants from falling down and so they should not be worn together.  That would, for us ladies, be like wearing Spanx and a girdle.  Or a bustier and a bra.  A decision must be made between the two.  When settling this particular debate I was tempted to add that a person who feels it necessary to wear both belt AND suspenders might also have some deep-seated trust issues.  But then I reminded myself that no one cares about my psychological interpretations of sartorial conundrums.  (But why is this I wonder?  Is it because I don't have a psychology degree?  Qualifications smallifications!  I think we can all agree they are irrelevant and unnecessary.)  So if anyone would like to hear more of my psychological analysis, please do contact me directly.  I'm more than happy to spew all sorts of ill informed and misguided nonsense your way.  In the meantime, let's look at some truly dapper gentlemen who are aware of the no-belt-with-suspenders-rule:

 

 

And no post about suspenders could go without a look in the review mirror at this memorable image:

When I say I have a Grammy, this is what I mean

This stance is life itself. My 91 year old grandma lives in an area of the country where camouflage is its own clothing group like, say, tops or trousers.  This is a place of (VERY!!) informal dress.  And yet to a recent dinner event she wore the above.  (There should be no question who the Wardrobe Whisperer takes after.)  Not only did she just "spruce up" (her term) she went the extra mile: SEQUINS, people, and MINK and FINE JEWELS!!!  It's a wonder she didn't pull on her opera gloves.  I adore this woman.  Let's get another look sans mink stole so we can experience the sequins in their full glory:

gram-1

Further, there are few people from whom I'm excited to receive hand-me-downs but my gram is at the top of that list.  Of my favorite pieces bequeathed from her closet:

  1. A white shadow mink coat with ice blue satin lining and  - added bonus - ice blue VELVET lined pockets (PURE LUXURY)
  2. A floor length cheetah print gown with side slit that I have worn on more occasions than I can count; Given the dress's silhouette, the last time I wore it there was a lot of speculation over how hot my grandmother must be
  3. A black silk crepe de chine cocktail dress with silk voile overlay
  4. A matching leopard print hat/muff both of which are exquisite and timeless

There are no more beautiful words than these spoken by my Grammy, "Jessie, let's go to the attic and find some treasures!"  Let's end this post with a closer look at this darling creature.  Here's me and my girl this summer on an outing for cool treats:

This giant ice cream sundae cost $3 and was loaded with every good thing on earth.

 

 

It Can Be Wrong Even Though It's White

RTwhite One of the things I love best about the spring, besides it being perfect mojito weather, is wearing all white on the regular.  It's cool, crisp, polished and, as a hue (or lack thereof) it works with everything.  Sadly, though, "universally flattering" does not appear on the list of its virtues.  So unless you have Jessica Alba's body, here are the two most important things to consider before wearing white:

  • Sheerness: White tends to be see-through which, especially in the work place, can be damning (as in DAMN, what is she wearing up in here?).  For a top or a dress sheerness often mandates a camisole or a slip, and for pants it often mandates that they be burned (or at the very least have their pockets cut out and sewn up).  The idea is that you want to make it impossible to glimpse what is under the fabric (undergarments, tattoos, skin texture, etc).  If anything can distinctly be seen, this is not the garment for you.  Or anyone except, maybe, Jessica Alba.
  • Structure: White is most flattering when it comes in the form of a structured garment.  (Jessica Alba, why are you even still reading?) This holds the most true for white pants which tend to be the toughest to get right.  Even white denim, which is inherently structured, can be difficult.  Light colors, and white in particular, are not very forgiving so it's necessary for you (even better - get an honest friend to assist) to do a thorough inspection of the pants in natural light while you are wearing them to make sure lumps, bumps, and other imperfections are being mitigated and not enhanced by said pants.

And if these two things scare you, try a white mani instead, and get back to that mojito.

Less Is Morgan (or Dress for Success on a Budget)

ElieLong time readers of my blog know that I worked for Goldman Sachs.  Twice.  And it was there that I began styling.  I got hired, in large part, because I can do complex math equations like this: Smart folks who need to look polished but have no time to think about their wardrobe + $ = Wardrobe Whisperer

WW is almost 8 years old now (my have you grown!) and although I have clients who do just about everything, my specialty remains wardrobing folks in finance.  Of late, my Morgan Stanley set has been most active.  They have even innovated to invite me to produce a few fashion events for the firm.  (A round of applause!) Last Thursday, first year Analysts (and a few Associates and VPs) joined me at Elie Tahari in SoHo.  That equation looked like this:

Bubbly + Snacks + Discounts + Gift bags + Elie gift card + Free styling + A presentation given by yours truly on How to Dress for Success on a Budget = A Magnificent Evening

Snap shot please:

Morgan Event_1.15The salient points included How To:

- Build a core wardrobe around high quality, versatile/classic suiting that will grow with you throughout your career

- Think creatively about wearing suiting (think: separating the jacket and wearing it like a blazer)

- Keep core suiting looking fresh by incorporating a variety of tops (think:  different fabrics, cuts, textures, colors and patterns)

- Create visual interest with jewelry (think: alternating between statement and delicate pieces as well as mixing them together)

- Use other accessories like shoes and hosiery to create alternate looks

The evening was a success considering almost every girl found something that suited her (pun intended!).  Looking forward to our next event on March 5!

Couture's Worth

stuff you missed in history classHave you ever wondered the origin of the term "fashion house," or contemplated when "ready to wear" clothing emerged, or mused over how Haute Couture was born?  (These are the things I ponder when I should be making dinner.)  Dear readers:  speculate no longer!  Tune in during your subway commute/walk/drive (tip: download the episode first vs trying to stream it) and enjoy a painless 30 minute history lesson on the man who was the genesis of all of the above: Charles Worth. After listening to this delightful podcast from the Stuff You Missed in History Class series, I began telling people that the word "worthy" derived from Charles Worth.  It just seems so fitting!  Perhaps I should begin my own series of podcasts entitled "Stuff You Missed In Revisionist History Class."

My Mourning Jacket

MOURNINGMET14My husband loves to rib me for excessive pun usage in my blog titles.  He's right, of course, that I am heavy-handed but I can't help it - puns make me giggle.  (We met in a book club, for Pete's sake, did he not know what he was marrying?!)  I was thrilled therefore when a few days ago he sunk to my literary level by sending me a link to this article and entitling it "My Mourning Jacket." BAM! It turns out that The Met is doing a second special exhibit this year, this one to be unveiled in October and to chronicle the evolution of mourning attire from the 19th and 20th centuries.  If it is anything like the Charles James exhibit, I look forward to getting up close and personal with the pieces and learning a bit of history at the same time.

Even if my husband didn't know what he was marrying, I knew what I was marrying:  a man who is kind enough to go to these exhibits with me (despite the fact that he spends all of his time in the room with the knights), a man who will send me daily links to fashion articles, and a man with the secret ability to out-pun me!

Beyond Love with Met's Beyond Fashion Exhibit

charlesjames1Today I am memorializing fallen veterans by eating grilled ribs and drinking gin and tonics (??); It seems my traditions have strayed from the true meaning of the day. Friday I was memorializing a veteran of a different sort.  I finally had a chance to view the Charles James, couture veteran, exhibit at The Met.  It was very dark and serious in the Anna Wintour Costume Institute (as my above pic of James's Four Leaf Clover Gown attests).  All that was illuminated were the gorgeously rendered gowns.  With the help of animation and robotic arms the viewer was given the chance to see how each gown was constructed and to marvel at what appeared to be fashion architecture.  I've done my share of sewing (using patterns of course) and gaped openly at the tailoring in general but specifically admired (and was baffled by) how none of his seams constituted a straight line.  Everything was curved and sewn anatomically which, in my mind, attributed to the unique way his dresses "stood" and draped.  Also notable was his melding of many different fabrics and colors.  Silk faille, satin, shantung, and velvet abounded in reds, emeralds, pinks, oranges and myriad shades of brown (which I rarely see in a gown these days).  This method of layering texture and color resulted in some exquisite pieces (again I refer you to the above Clover Gown).

I spent two hours pouring over about twenty gowns and could've easily spent another two.  But my very patient husband was waiting and so was our lunch at The Dutch.  It occurred to me later, though, that the combination of glamorous fashion and the quintessential french fry was a memorial of yet another sort: the perfect day.

Dress to Impressionist

apfel_matisseA few months ago I got off the train at Christopher Street to meet a client for a wardrobe update in the Village.  I came above ground and a woman stopped me and said, "Excuse me but I love everything you have on!  There are all these tourists around here and you're showing them how to do NY chic.  You made my day!"  Of course this delighted me to no end and I had to restrain myself from kidnapping the woman on the spot.  But I digress. The above photo from the video "Iris Apfel dresses for Matisse" put me in mind of that incident because I believe that if Matisse was alive and encountered Iris Apfel, he would say, "I love everything you have on!"  And he'd probably also say she made his day - this video certainly made mine.

Mother, May(hem) I?

  mayhemmayhem2

Readers, meet my new fashion love, "Mayhem" Keiser.  At four years old, she and her paper-dress creations are the things that (my) dreams are made of.  Although she is not allowed to use scissors yet, she directs her mom (who claims she herself is not crafty at all) on how to cut construction paper and other household objects in order to assemble stunning dresses:  the facsimiles of Katy Perry's dress and Lupita Nyong'o's above are stupendous.  But while she often looks to red carpet dresses for inspiration she also creates bona fide originals like these below:

mayhem4mayhem5Dear Mrs. Keiser, please allow me to adopt your daughter.  I take direction very well.  Love, Wardrobe Whisperer

How Anna Wintour Stole Christmas

annawintourYou better watch out... You better not cry...

You better not pout...

I'm telling you why...

Because if your mother is Anna Wintour then she will probably toss your Christmas tree out before Christmas day.

It's a little known fact that not only was the main character in The Devil Wears Prada based on A.W. but the main character in this popular film as well:

Grinch

The Edge of Madness

barclays+

levis

In 1962 Edwin O'Connor won a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Edge of Sadness about a middle aged priest battling alcoholism.  I distinctly recall a part in the book that described how the Catholic church was taking steps to make services more personal and accessible.  This was considered a bad approach by many because there was a fear of losing their core constituency who valued the sacredness of the mass.  This was an interesting dilemma to me.  And today, a similar situation presents itself with the news that Barclays (a notoriously conservative bank) is introducing super casual Fridays.  Is history repeating itself on some level?

Barclays is known for being uber specific about offering dress guidelines to employees.  They have historically defined inappropriate casual dress as "denim items of any color, shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, any sports footwear such as training shoes, any items of clothing with slogans and beach style footwear."  Now apparently t-shirts, jeans and even sneakers will be acceptable on Fridays.  I understand this is an attempt to lure talent in a time when the best and brightest are trading up for hedge funds and start ups but is Barclays going to alienate their core personnel?  I may be old school when it comes to having a sense of occasion and appropriateness but I am of the mind that they will.  I dress a lot of bankers and they are men and women who feel it's necessary to not only act the part but to look the part.  And I agree 100%.  As the idiom goes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

If The Suit Fits, Wear It

  two suits

Arden Reed and OkCupid conducted a four month international study to assess the impact a suit's fit has on a gent's likelihood to score a date.  (This is the kind of science I wish I could've studied in college.)  Two profiles were set up, each exactly the same save for the photo.  In one of the photos their model wore a boxy suit, and in the other he wore a tailored suit.  Unsurprisingly the study backs up what I espouse every day of my working life - that fit is about 50% of the damn-he-looks-good equation which, incidentally I'll share below.

The Wardrobe Whisperer Hotness Theorem:

50% fit + 30% style + 20% fabric/quality = 100% Attractive

If you nail a garment's fit, that's half the battle (literally half, see my equation above) and now I have cold hard facts to prove it.  Fashion CSI has done it again!

Orange Crush

federer sneaksTo be honest, I thought my first Wimbledon fashion post would be about a tennis dress.  Alas, no.  So far, the biggest fashion news in my estimation concerns the shoes of tennis's prince, Roger Federer.  Apparently his orange- soled Nikes (pictured above) violate the strict Wimbledon dress code of wearing all white with very minimal accents.  Since I've been crushing hard on all things orange this year, I challenge this assertion.  I find these sneaks and Federer's entire outfit to be in good taste (and hot) and therefore I submit that they should be considered compliant.  I'd like to know whose sensibilities were offended by this: federer orange accents

Get Stoned

When I was about 13, I sneaked into my dad's dopp kitt and "borrowed" his razor.  Oh no, I was not going to shave my legs.  I had already been shaving for two years and had my own razor.  I took his to shave the pills off of my sweaters.  Of course I did not mention this to him, nor was I courteous enough to change the blade when I was through, which led to my dad arriving at the breakfast table the next morning with tiny pieces of toilet paper stuck to the cuts on his face.  If you read this, dad, I sincerely apologize for that egregious offense.  To try to right that wrong, allow me to post you on an amazing find (again by The Laundress!!) in order to save the faces of the men you love.  The Sweater Stone has restored my most favorite cashmere and wool sweaters, leaving them free of unsightly pilling.  And, even better than my dad's razor, the Sweater Stone does not add pulls to your sweater as you are trying to rid it of pills.  I'm giddy!!

Don't Get Salty

I cannot stop the snow from coming but I can help you to combat it...on your leather and suede shoes, at least.  But first:

Dear Santa, please give me the power to thwart snow.  Thank you. Love and Cookies, The Wardrobe Whisperer

Do:

- Mix white vinegar 1:2 with water (1/2 c vinegar + 1 c water)*

- Take a clean white cloth or some cotton balls and dip into solution

- Rub salt stains in outward circular motions

*Geek alert:  The acetic acid in the vinegar will dissolve the salt deposits without damaging your shoes.

When the stains are removed, oil the shoes or polish them.

You're welcome.

Rad Pit

Part of my job is to scour my clients' closets and assess every garment they own.  This ensures that all items are not only relevant and flattering, but also in good shape.  Among other factors, this means NO STAINS.  Witness a typical heartbreaking conversation:

Me:  I love this shirt and I can tell you love it too.  [Said while suspiciously eying yellow underarm stains.]

Client:  Yes!  That's my favorite shirt.  I wear it everywhere.

Me:  I can see why it's your favorite, the fit is perfect.  Unfortunately, though, the armpits are yellowed beyond repair.

Client:  [Crestfallen]  No!  You don't mean I have to...I mean, I couldn't...I LOVE that shirt.

Me:  [Commence firm yet sympathetic speech.]

New York's The Laundress promises to make such conversations a thing of the past.  They have created  a line of products that are said to rid your favorite shirt of its pit stains in three easy steps:

Tools:  Stain Solution, Stain Brush (using a clean toothbrush should also do the trick)

Optional: All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, Scented Vinegar

Step 1:  Pre-treat

• Apply Stain Solution to the stain.

• Work solution into stained area with soft brush.

• Pour hot water from a height (weird but supposedly more effective) and soak.*

• If stain has faded, but isn’t completely gone, repeat the process until satisfied.

• To remove odors: pre-soak with The Laundress Scented Vinegar. Apply vinegar directly on odor areas and work stain solution into the fabric. Soak well.

-Launder as normal.

*This process is recommended on durable fibers such as cotton, linen and some synthetic materials.

*For stain removal on delicate fabrics such as silk and cashmere, use tepid water. Do not soak silk longer than 30 minutes at a time.

Step 2:  Machine wash

• Pre-soak for super dingy whites. Make a bath of hot water and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative. Apply Stain Solution directly on stained areas. Soak items for 1-12 hours depending on intensity of stain. You may also rinse dirty water and repeat.

• Launder with hot water and The Laundress Whites or Signature Detergent which combines color guard and enzymes optical brightener.  Add All-Purpose Bleach Alternative directly to the drum of the washing machine.

Step 3:  Dry/Finish:

• Do not dry any items that still have stains.

• Hang to dry on a line in the sun for energy efficiency, natural whitening and that awesome fresh line experience…or use the dryer.

The Laundress products have been tested at Cornell University.  In my experience, Ivys sweat a lot (Competition!  Competition!  Competition!).  So, if they say it works, I am inclined to believe.

WW Photos Featured on REISS Website

Before you become inundated with everyone's coverage of Fashion Week, we'd like to direct your attention to our Guest Styling spot on REISS's website.  TA-DAH!!!  We are still swooning over the clothes and plan to wear the red and cream look tomorrow for FNO (how will we keep from twirling all over the store??).  Please note that we will be mindful of all subway grates.