Monday, December 29, 2008

RIP Charlotte Charles

I am filled with woe. My favourite show currently on television, Pushing Daisies, has been cancelled! It was a brief, delightful trip, and I think a show destined, (much like "Arrested Development" and "My So-Called Life") to go down with fans as abrupt ending you never really get over.

Starring Lee Pace and Anna Freil as star crossed lovers, the story centers around Ned, a piemaker who touches things and brings them back to life. The catch being that he must touch them again within sixty seconds, or something within the vicinity will die as well, and once he does touch them, they're dead, for good. When he finds that his long-lost childhood crush, Lonely Tourist, Charlotte Charles, whose father Ned had inadvertently killed in their youth, is now a young beekeeper who has met her untimely end at the hands of a plastic smiley face bag and a shiny-shoed murderer, he simply cannot bear to bring himself to touch her again. This means that he gets to be reunited with his soulmate, at the price of well, never touching her again (though they do find some creative and strangely, not at all kinky, solutions to this). Together with private investigator Emerson Cod and scorned waitress Olive Snook, they solve mysteries and murders, such as that of a woman driving an eco-friendly car powered by dandelions, all while making pastries.

It is a hilarious, heartwarming program with the kind of fantastical imagery you might expect from Tim Burton's more optimistically-minded cousin, shot through with turn of the century charm and a spectacular play of contrast colours (someone went to art school), calling to mind both the poetic dynamism of European renaissance art, and the charm of American folk and modern, such as the subjects of Edward Hopper and subtlety of Jasper Johns. It's quirky, without trying too hard, unlike many other "indie" ventures in television. It's sweet, without wallowing in preciosity, philosophical, without rolling around in existentialism all the live long day (*coughHousecough*). In short, in a television landscape dominated by crime dramas and vapid guilty pleasures, it was and is brilliant.

Style wise, they're all fascinating and calculated characters. But my favourite remains Charlotte "Chuck" Charles.

Usually seen in her signature red and a variety of hokey wigs and babushka scarves to hide her identity, her style is retro without being overbearing. It's a mix of 50's tea dresses, 60's babydolls and 70's boots and minis combos, with some modern twists like high waisted tulip skirts thrown in, her wardrobe allows you to never put a "realistic" timeline or date on the show, adding to the fantastical appeal.

Postscript- Dear readers, I am in need of more probing from you! If I am to do a Q&A that's remotely satisfying or revelatory, I really do need a wider berth of questions from all of you, so go ahead, lay them on me. If you would prefer to keep it private/anonymous, feel free to email me. My address is in the sidebar. Thanks!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

the legend of sleepy hollow

The entire city has been immersed in fog and mist for days now, and I would be an absolutely negligent blogger if I didn't seize upon this advantageous atmosphere...

I am new to the world of wearing a tablecloth as a skirt, so it's not nearly so artfully done as Tavi's or Belle's. I do need to take care with it, as it was my maternal grandmother's handmade tablecloth from the 20's. We don't use it, but if anything were to happen to it, my mother would cry and cry and cry. Then disown me.

The blouse is Forever21, which we just recently got locally. Sadly I will be returning it as my bust is, well, busting out all over. Sigh.

I know a lot of bloggers have been doing this, but I figured it would be a good time to do a Q&A, tis the season and all. So, if you please, either by comment or email, ask me a question, any question you want (within reason) and I'll answer it in a post. Also, I'm taking a kind of informal poll: would you prefer it answered through a normal post, or through a vlog?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm sticking with you, cause I'm made out of glue...

After an argument with a friend about the nature and definition of being "thin" in society, and how that definition has evolved, I have begun to give a lot of thought to the nature of the waist.

Some form of stays (boning or structuring of an undergarment made to modify the shape of the torso) or waist cincher, has ostensibly existed since 1000 B.C., but the rudimentary form of stays we associate with the corset came into fashion around the 15th century.
These laced all the way to the hip, and along with thick petticoats and the fashionable square neckline, was meant to emphasize the bust, an elongated torso and a "handspan" waist. Take Queen Elizabeth I in her teen years for example:

The corset grew more constricting as the skirt grew wider, until we come to the late 18th century, a time in which panniers grew so wide, hair so tall and waists so narrow, that clothing truly became a pageant of the ridiculous
Cases of misformed organs and cracked ribs run rampant among women looking to shave off that extra half inch with rigid metal and whalbone busks. To those of you who think that the eating disorder is a modern incarnation of a modern fixation, think again.

Clearly a backlash was coming. After the French Revolution and during the early Romantic period, fashion experienced what is known as the Regency period. A time that favoured dresses of simple silk and chiffon in pale colours with puffed or narrow leg-of-mutton sleeves and empire waists. Corsets were less restrictive, with less boning and looser lacing. This is where we usually get our visual references for Jane Austen herioines.

During the 20th century, the cycles of rejecting and embracing the waist by equal turns came even faster. During the twenties, lanky, slender figures with flat, broad waists and small breast became all the rage, to best acessorize the new acreage of skin being shown off in backless gowns and short skirts.

While the 40's reverted back to the nipped in waist and full skirt...

The 60's were all about "the sack" the "tent", the trapeze and shift dresses

The 90's was all about a small waist emphasized by a crop top, high waists, or a combination thereof.

By the time we moved into the present decade, things were really moving at hyperspeed. First there was the lowslung belt, made to emphasize low-rise jeans and jutting hipbones:

Then the belt got wider and were worn in bright patent colours at the waist (the local girls still love this one)

More recently was this nasty business of the resurge of sixties proportions. As you can imagine, it was hell for anyone of an hourglass or pear-shaped bodytype or simply a very petite stature. I don't think I bought any blouses or dresses for over a year, just because I didn't feel like wearing a belt with everything I own to avoid looking like a sad sack or a five year old.

Now we're coming out of "bodycon". The resurgence of an 80's trend, largely responsible for the revival of Herve Leger's bandage dresses, it was hailed as "the anti-trapeze", and as a celebration of healthier figure and womanly curves. The problem with this concept is that stretchy, spandex materials are not very flattering on "curves" not unless they have been methodically pilates-toned or Godgiven.

I suppose my complaint of the treatment of the waist in recent fashion is that it leaves no other flexibility for a body that's not naturally slender to exist in a flattering and fashion forward member. We constantly find ourselves buying things we're not comfortable in and constantly trying to work our bodies around them, rather than the other way around.Unlike fashions of the past, which emphasized simply using fashion to tweak your own physique into the favoured proportion, the only options left to be best served by trapezes, drop waists and body cons is simply to be tall, and barring that, to be as thin as possible. Even now, we are not safe, as the 90's crop top is finding favour with edgier souls than myself. In a lot of ways it's even more unforgiving than essentially wrapping your torso in spandex, there is no place for stomachs to hide. Better start doing those crunches, now, rather than later...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cold Snapped.

Outfit I wore yesterday. Not that avant garde, but I think I should get major credit for the fact that it's finals week and I'm not in sweats. I bought this dress from urban outfitters, but the cheapskates didn't include a slip and I'm having quite a time trying to find one, so until then I'm wearing it as a pseudo skirt. I got it basically for free (with some store credit I forgot I had), I feel bad for the poor suckers who paid the full seventy dollars for it. But I'm excited to have some florals in my wardrobe for the first time since 6th grade.

I got these shoes from the fine people at Solestruck. I know I'm only the billionth blogger to talk them up, but really, these shoes are gorgeous and walkable, and the sale assistants are absurdly sweet. And okay, I admit these didn't make it more than ten minutes at school during this soggy, foggy weather (which my dad refers to as "Oregon, without the benefit of being in Oregon"), but I don't weeble wobble in them like most heels. Palsy stamp of approval!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Change the Channel

I am alive!

Seriously, sorry for being so neglectful lately. But until the end of next week (the dreaded finals) I don't have time for blogging. Or friends. Or sleeping. I swear on all that is holy that I will get around to returning some of your lovely emails/comments. My apologies, things will be back in working order soon, but right now my GPA comes first, yo. In the mean time, I've been thinking a lot about channeling a certain character from a film or book in my clothes, and I thought I'd share.

Cassie from Skins
Skins is finally here in the US (on the BBC) and I am full-blown addicted. Gossip Girl is sooooo passe. Like every other fashion enthusiast, I fell hard for the character Cassie, a madcap, trippy-hippy anorexic who never gets enough screen time. She's all about insane in the membrane when it comes to clothes. Flashy. clashing. Anything goes. I want to be the brunette version of her, minus the eating disorder.

cassie by hr2021

rose by hr2021
From "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" Camilla Belle plays a girl who spent an entire life on a commune in on an island off the east coast with her dashingly Scottish father, Daniel Day Lewis. Set in the 80's, Rose's anachronistic style of clothes inherited from her mother looks fresh amongst her step family's big hair, nylon tracksuits, and greasy metal rocker style. Rose's style is earthy, laid back, and most of all, she looks really comfortable.

Part two (along with the bajillion other things I've promised you) coming soon. Can you tell this post was the result of lazyness mixed with absolute exhaustion?...ooops. Shhh! Don't tell! I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How To Dress European (Part Two)

I have a vlog coming as soon as I can get the internet to cooperate with me. Swear.
In the meantime, the title of this is self-explanitory. Once again, purely sarcastic and tongue in cheek. Please, a fashion blog is not a proper forum for sociocultural debate.

Someone commented on the last post that they "deadly want" to see my riff on German style. Lucky for you, I have spent half my life surrounded by Germans! Taciturn, cliched Germans who were usually my teachers and with whom I never got along particularly well. So keep in mind, my biases are fully-formed.

A German woman simply cannot bother herself with all these extraneous layers and peices, so a dress is a must.

Being German is all about being modern,and there is no room in a German wardrobe for any "vintage" references. Let's leave the past where it belongs, shall we?

Form follows function.

A German woman loves sparkly baubles, but practices restraint. "Bling" is not leitkultur, kids.

It is one of the greatest injustices of life that I was not born Scandinavian. Any of you have who have ever followed a street style blog know what I'm talking about. It seems like they're all tall and ribbon-slim, with soigne style and a creamy complexion to boot. My first time in Stockholm you will probably find me weeping in my hotel room shrieking, "I can't go outside! They're all too...beautiful."

They all have Acne....Acne Jeans clothing.

On any other person, tights as pants would be at best, a fashion faux pas, and at worst, incredibly unflattering. But the rules don't apply to you. This one has delightfully edgy leather panels.

Neutral colours as always.

And edgy shoes that no one else could walk in.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

cold hands, warm heart

There is quite a cold snap going on here, and I find myself unprepared. Seriously, I have like, two sweaters that aren't ugly and fit. This is complicated by the fact that I am currently broke.

Jacket: TJ Maxx Shoes: Target Skirt: Wet Seal Hat: Thrifted Shirt: Walmart (boys section)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, Susannah

I have made no secret of the fact that I loathe living in the rural south. Nevermind that I live in the second largest metropolis of my state. I have found myself, since the age of ten, constantly stunted and dead-ended emotionally and creatively by living here. I live in perhaps the most unpicturesque part of the entire state. I bore quite easily, and I have seen many people of similar temperments given over to apathy, bitterness, or just a bad liquor fixation before they hit 25 here in Alabama. I could go into a big rant, but suffice it to say everything from the (unseasonably hot and sticky) weather to the indigenous culture has never meshed well with me.

That having been established, I am always delighted (and okay, a bit suprised) whenever Sweet Home AL shows any sign of civilisation. So when I read about Florence, AL based designer Billy Reid in my brand new issue of Nylon, I googled him in haste. Florence, for those of you uninitiated, is somewhere between a quaint town and a spot in the road, it's two great landmarks being the FLW Rosenbaum House (which I have mentioned previously), and the University of North Alabama.

Upon entering Mr. Reid's website, I will admit to being at first blush, underwhelmed. His clothes are not unlike what you might find in J. Crew or, for us girls, Anthropologie. But as I looked closer, I began to appreciate the smaller, finer details. The curve of a seam. The lining of a pocket. Ticking on an inside dart. Do take advantage of the "zoom" tool on his site to see what I mean.

And while his prices are somewhat perplexing in these lean times, and I honestly have no idea what sort of market he can aquire in Florence, a town currently in the economic downswing, I can certainly appreciate the obvious amount of work in his clothes and indeed his stores (check out the website pics). And as an anachronism fiend, have a great appreciation for the Civil War tenor of his aesthetic.
I would gladly take this apron dress home any day of the week.

I will get around to answering all your delightful comments and adding to my blogroll when I find myself in posession of a greater surplus of time, I apologize. And part two of my European post IS coming soon, please, hold me to that, or I shall surely forget.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How To Dress European

A guide to dressing like an exotic and worldly European woman, as written by a biased pseudo-Russo-Jew who's spent half her short life in the writhing south.

the cliches about French dressing are mostly true. Simple but with a twist. And yes, most of the allure of Gallic chic lies in actually being French I'm afraid. So attempting it at say, your local Walmart or a square dance, will have mixed results. I know.

Most of these items will need to explanation. Fluttery silk blouse= chic.

A little secret about Euro women: They're cheap. There are exceptions of course, but they adore fashion and don't like to spend much money on it. Sample sales and outlet stores are their friend.

French women love miniskirts and never got that whole fashion mag memo about "no minis over 25!". Good for them.

Every iconoclastic french woman from Deneuve to Gainsbourg has worn a trench. I think there's a good reason for that. This one has nifty zippers.

On anyone else, that leather skirt+ these boots would = slutty. But Frenchness means such concerns about too much or not enough belongs with ugly Americans who don't smoke and are scared of carbs.

Italians are all about nero nero nero. And take risks that the French girls sometimes won't. Sometimes it really works and sometimes it really doesn't

My Italian professor was OBSESSED with skinny black pants. She wore them almost every day for an entire school year. Seriously, I never saw a skirt on the woman.

Again, at least one inexpensive thing.

This Chloe jacket is l'ultima moda. Yes, this is daywear. How dare you even ask.

My poor Italian professor. If she ever sees this blog she'll never forgive me....Okay, one more anecdote: She used to ride her bike to school. In five inch platform shoes. Every day. She sometimes came to class with bandages on her face and palms, but she always looked fashionable. I've never seen her without her height having been jacked up a good four inches, so I'm honestly not sure how tall she is.

I've never seen an Italian woman with a french bag.

Part two possibly coming soon, depending on how much flack I get from people taking this way too seriously.

P.S. Sorry for the pic hugeness. Blogger is being hormonal.