F Yes to FNO!

Sometimes when I think that my job can't get any better, it high-fives me and DOES.  Case and point...as mentioned, I'll be guest styling at Reiss Bleecker Street for FNO (Fashions Night Out) on Thursday, September 8.  Last Friday I went to the store to select my "picks" for FNO; my initial instruction was 5 pieces for men and 5 pieces for women.  But then the Head of Visual Merchandising, Gabriel, (AKA The Angel) showed up to say that I should select 7 (SEVEN!!) head-to-toe looks for women and 4 for men and (even better) that he'll give me the whole middle of the store with all my looks surrounding me!!  It was like the sky opened up and the sun shone directly on ME.  (Is it too soon after the hurricane to talk about skies opening up?!  And why is the verb shine so hard to conjugate??) Not only that but I was later told that my photos from the Reiss shoot that I styled will be appearing on the website's HOME PAGE, not just in their blog.  Excuse me while I go play Mega Millions.

Fashion Forum: Part Deux

On Tuesday I returned to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village for another segment of Fashion Forum.  I was greeted by many familiar faces from my lecture in January.  This time the theme was an informal Q&A on all things regarding fashion and style.   For 1.5 hours I was peppered with questions of all types ranging from proper garment care, to queries on fit/fabric/brand, to how to create a polished look.  The audience was lively and engaged in large part but about an hour in, after questioning how much shirt sleeve should protrude from his suit jacket (I recommend .5")  I noticed heavy eyelids and slack-jaw in the back row (horror!).  I will comfort myself by noting that it was dark and rainy however, mental note to self:  next session Jolt gum will be dispensed along with my business cards.

Savage Queue-ty

Yesterday a friend and I arrived at the Met to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit Savage Beauty only to be told that the queue for entry can be upwards of an hour.  My love for all things McQueen would have left me un-phased was it not for the infant in tow.  (Yes, I deigned to bring my 11 month old to a jam-packed exhibit full of dark rooms and eery music featuring leather garments with overtly S&M bondage detail.  Dear Future Psychologist, I apologize in advance.)  Luckily it was a random Wednesday at 11:30am and, while greeted with a series of signs indicating wait-time from different points, we breezed right in.  Once inside (along with considerably more patrons) we discovered justification for the usually horrendous lines.  The Met was transformed into a very un-Met-like space:  dark and raw and mysterious, an environment that perfectly showcased McQueen's romance-meets-horror vibe.   To get up close to the pieces was a physical thrill.  The technical perfection boggled my mind and we spent the rest of the day debating how he did pretty much everything.  His work is unnerving and inspirational and magnificent.  It's the kind of show that makes you dash home to whip out your sewing machine (yes, mine is out).  It makes you want to take risks with fashion and life in general, which brings me to the words of Alexander McQueen, “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”  P.S. future psychologist:  See the aforementioned quote.

Vanity (Not) Fair

A few days ago, the New York Times did an interesting article on vanity sizing.   The most eye-opening portion was this mind-boggling graphic that not only compared a size 8 among different brands but also within the same brand (eg., Marc Jacobs designer line vs Marc Jacobs mid-priced line).   I realize that vanity sizing is meant to cure insecurities but it's leaving us with an identity crisis.

APPetite for Deconstruction

I am convinced that the world's creators are in league with each other to fulfill the notion that "there is an app for everything."  Enter Mary Huang and her new interactive app, Continuum.  Use the software to "draw" a dress and it will be instantly produced in 3D.  You can then download (for free) the pattern and sew it yourself or order it through the label.  Huang has built her software on the principle of "Delaunay Triangulation."  This means that she's written an algorithm to deconstruct each dress into a series of triangular plains.  While the mathematics of this are not within most of our grasps, the ease of the app is.  Maybe next Mary could design an app to teach us advanced geometry?  On second thought, her time could be better spent on an app to design our own shoes!

jOHn galliaNO

Unfortunately, recent insane mutterings have put the OH NO in John Galliano.  While the couture master deals with a personal and public crisis, somehow his Paris Fashion Week show went on (though more tame than his usual three ring circus) and was, as usual, stunning.  Separating the man from his work for a second (I know it's tough, stay with me here), his collection was a gorgeous homage to the '30's mixing peplum jackets, tailored skirts, and lots and lots of fur (gorilla and otherwise).   In true Galliano style he maintained luxury and glamor but infused it with bad-girl elements like chains, latex, and super sheer fabrics.  Now if he could just find a way to maintain civility using elements like common courtesy, basic manners, and acceptance.

Insider Trading

At the Hilton Hotel on 53rd & 6th by way of The Learning Annex, Rebecca Minkoff presented last night on "How to Start a Handbag, Accessories, and Life Style Brand."  The aspect I appreciated most was how forthcoming she was with her resources.  She opened up the little black book (in her mind) and began listing off everything from where she buys hardware for her bags (Ohio Travel Bag) and has samples made (Manolucci) to where she found her accountant (back of Women's Wear Daily) and PR company (Shine Media).  Clearly this woman is confident enough in her product to not fear the likes of her audience's talents.  Q&A went on for a solid hour and by the time things wrapped up I was surprised I didn't have her social security number, bank account information, and email address.  I do have her blessing on using Infomat, though, so I'll be sure to stay connected.

Fashion Ministry 2011

The Stuy Town lecture... On Monday January 31st I gave a lecture at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village on "Creating a Polished Look Mixing High & Low Fashion and Accessorizing."  Guests were immediately transformed into 5 year olds when they entered the Oval Theater and saw big gift bags covering the sign-in table.  I actually overheard an attendee declare it an encore to Christmas morn.  Big thank yous to some of my favorite stores who donated gifts:  Alexis Bittar, Catherine Malandrino, Max Mara, Hugo Boss, and Gabriella de la Vega.  There's nothing like swag to ensure a pliable audience!  If only I could've served hot toddies and shrimp cocktail I think I'd have 50 new clients.

Below are a few bullet points from my presentation, but to see it in its entirety click here.

  • Investment pieces (high fashion) should be:   classic, your fashion skeleton (coat, bag, shoes, signature jewelry), something you have an emotional attachment to
  • Budget pieces (low fashion) should be:  trendy items, anything with a short shelf life (tees, leggings, hats, scarves)
  • Accessories infuse a look with your personality, so make a statement; Do this by choosing 1 to 2 statement pieces at a time ensuring they are complimentary and do not compete
  • Cultivate your style

Contact me about giving a presentation at jessica @  wardrobewhisperer.com.

That's Bananas!

God forbid you've bought so little as a pair of socks from Banana Republic in the past ten years.  If you have, you're surely receiving the barage of emails/snail mails that I am.  BR is relentless in their pursuit to have you shop on a weekly, nay daily basis!   And now this additional injustice, thinly veiled as a perk.  A"free" stylist who is going to encourage you to shop even more frequently AND dress you head to toe in BR gear?!  Call me bananas but I'm not sure that I see the perk in that equation.  If I wanted to be force-fed I'd go to dinner at Bob's Big Boy and call it a night.

S*'It' Bag

Bottega Veneta designer, Tomas Maier, has recently been quoted as saying that 'It' bags are "totally marketed bull*!it crap."  The impeccable (read: compulsive) designer (who dropped the H in his first name to create symmetry with his last) is incensed by the notion of creating a bag, giving it to celebs in order to sell paparazzi photos to tabloids, and then creating a wait-list to generate purchases.  "I don't believe that's how you make something lasting - that's iconic as a design," he explains. 

Interestingly Maier also described how he passes time in airports watching people in order to identify "design horrors."  Ouch.  At least he has some measure of compassion, though, as he "pities" the man who carries "some ill-functioning bag that rips his jacket half off."   A display of amazing tolerance indeed.

Swiss Cheese

The Swiss Bank, UBS, has circulated a 43-page dress code to 5 of their retail branches.  Along with strict directives to wear jackets completely covering the backside, women are told to wear flesh-colored underwear and adjust skirt lengths to 5cm below the knee.   Furthermore, when getting a hair cut one is to ask oneself, "Is this cut appropriate for my age?"  Perhaps one should also be asking, "Is my resume up to date and ready for immediate distribution?"

Rodarte's Swan Song

I know it's Christmas time but this year Swan Lake spanks the Nutcracker.   "The Black Swan"  was not only a tense thriller (and more than a little disturbing), it was also breathtakingly beautiful.  The Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte fame completely outdid themselves.  I will personally wear a sandwich board and picket if they are not considered for an Academy Award for costume design.  (Can sandwich boards be made of cashmere I wonder?)  The performance costumes were outstanding but my heart belongs to the long, white, virginal dress with the cross-back that Natalie Portman wears to the party announcing her as Swan Queen.  I searched in vain for a photo and feel almost as frustrated as Natalie's Nina in the movie.  OK, maybe not that frustrated.

Duluth Sleuth

Duluth_scoutpack-od Full disclosure:  one of my biggest style pet peeves is a grown man carrying a backpack to work (or anywhere for that matter).  Let me repeat: NOT acceptable.  Unless, of course,  your idea of a backpack is the sleek urban "Scout" utility pack pictured here.  I fell in love with an almost identical version at Barneys called the Flap Top Backpack which runs for $235.  A little investigation of Duluth's own site yielded the Scout pack for $85 (the only discernable difference being the patch).   If you were so inclined you could wield a $3 pair of seam rippers, remove said patch, and stash the money you've saved in your new, cool pack.

What's The Story?

Stella Jacket "Katha" means story or fable in Sanskrit and so Stella McCartney's camel coated, peplum, Katha jacket is aptly named.  It tells the story of three of this season's hottest trends - (1) the return to ladylike, curvy shapes; (2) the emphasis on tailored suiting; (3)the current explosion of neutral coloring. (The two-button shoulder closure is also faintly military - another white hot trend for fall.)  This is an investment piece, for sure, but one that can be justified when you consider it's uber versatility- pair with skinny jeans, narrow pants, a pencil skirt, or even a sheath dress.  As appropriate for work as it is for a night out, it's the ultimate day-to-night piece for fall.  It can also serve as the happy ending to your wardrobe story.

American Beauty

americanbeauty04 The holiday season is upon us (like it or not) and with that comes a lot of dashing around the city.  In between shopping for holiday gifts, turkeys, and a plan for New Year's Eve, add to your agenda a stop at American Beauty:  Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion.  FIT's stunning new exhibition can be visited (with all of your out- of-town company in tow) from November 06, 2009 - January 09, 2010.  The 75 garments (mostly dresses) being displayed are from 31 designers including the Mulleavy sisters (Rodarte), Halston, Rick Owens, Ralph Rucci, and Isabel Toledo.  "The garments in American Beauty are connected by one overriding criterion:  They have all been created by designers who utilized the craft of dressmaking as the point of departure to create beautiful, wearable objects," says Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT.  During all of the holiday madness, this is the perfect opportunity to stop and smell see the roses.

Will Wool Tie Up Too Bulky? KNOT!

Alexander_Olch_Wool_Ties Many of my clients smile, nod their head dutifully (to show they're listening), and then firmly PASS when I recommend a wool tie for winter. For most, the argument is that the knot will tie up too bulky. Like many other details of dress, sporting a wool tie comes down to proportion. First, the tie should be a thinner width (than that of a conventional silk) like the one pictured here from Alexander Olch. This will ensure the knot doesn't obscure your entire throat. Second, consider a spread collar for proper display (a frame for the photo if you will). And, third, a sturdy tie is best paired with a sturdy suit (think tweeds, flannels, and winter-weight wools). My recommendation is to purchase at least one wool tie and make it gray which will complement navy, gray, black, and brown suits. It's simply knot what you've been thinking all these years.

The Future of Women's Fashion

Y Panelists Given the economic volatility of the last 18 months it's a nebulous topic indeed, but on Wednesday night panelists at the 92nd Street Y attempted to predict the direction of women's fashion. "Exciting," "democratic" and "fetishistic" were the respective responses of Ashley Olsen (former actress and current designer of the Row and Elizabeth & James), Robin Givhan (Washington Post fashion columnist) and Isaac Mizrahi (fashion veteran, creative director for Liz Claiborne and co-host of Bravo's "The Fashion Show").

Hosted by Glamour editor in chief, Cindi Leive, the night was full of revelations, mostly from Mizrahi, who told about the time he cast a stripper in one of his runway shows and who also divulged that soon he'll be hawking his wares (from clothes and accessories to cheesecakes!) on QVC.

The group discussed everything from undernourished models (hateful and wrong but ultimately effective)  to "The Michelle Obama Effect" (replete with jokes about glimpsing "First Thighs" and "First Cleavage") to trends they wish would disappear (some said the 80's, others wouldn't deign to comment) .

The biggest crowd pleaser came when Robin Givhan defended fashionable women everywhere by stating that "People condescend to fashion because it's a women's industry.  No one would ever say that spending thousands of dollars for football season tickets is a waste of time and shallow and ridiculous, but a woman willing to spend $25,000 or $5,000 on a dress is just being pretty."  A justification it may be but one that will surely have a life beyond Wednesday night's event.