Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall Fashion Review

The sheer quantity of fall trends colliding (and trampling ill-informed Target shoppers) this year has compelled me to make a post about them. Some of them come around every fall - like menswear-inspired androgynous looks and polka dots - and some have been lurking in the shadows for years. The 60's and 70's have been trying to come back for a while, and the 60's especially have finally returned with a vengeance. I don't know what it is about this last decade that's driven all aspects of popular culture from fashion to film to recycle everything that can possibly be dug up from the past, but it makes me think that no one's really had any new ideas for a while, which is both sad and frightening. Maybe it's just that we don't know where we're headed anymore as a society.

Anyway, that's much too serious a thought for a fashion post. I must say, though, that I'm completely underwhelmed by everyone's individual fall collections given all of the outrageous trends pinging off the walls. Usually I default to Valentino and D&G to see what the high fashion world is doing, but this time I couldn't tell, honestly. I'm not even going to talk about Dior's insane neon 80's space flower couture collection complete with cube headpieces (why not just draw inspiration from the New Look styles?) and one particular flower maiden who looked just like the thing from Splice - believe it or not. The only collection that made me happy was McQueen's, and though I've always found postapocalyptic cyberpunk motifs super romantic, they are doing things differently from everyone else, as always, and anyone can appreciate that.

So, what I want to do is try to sum up 10 of the biggest trends for this fall - both here and across the pond - and give suggestions on how to pull them off not only well, but affordably. And not only affordably, but cheaply.

Also I apologise in advance for the terrible formatting; posts always look great when I make them, all clean and neat, and when I post them they tend to do weird things. It probably bothers me a lot more than it bothers you. ><

1. Jewel Tones + Neon

So this one is pretty straightforward and yet completely capable of turning into a disaster: jewel tones, just like every autumn, but turned up a few notches. Neon was pretty big this summer, and like tribal prints (which are coming up later), they're being carried right over into the next season. 

My only staunch opinion on this one is to avoid neon nail polish. Can some people pull that off while wearing blazers and boots? Maybe. But I wear some pretty ridiculous shit and definitely wouldn't venture into that territory. This might just be because I get sick of seeing sorority girls in sundresses and flip flops with Day-Glo pink toes right through until Christmas, but either way, please say goodbye to Barbie's 1987 Dreamhouse Pink until next summer and go for deep, rich tones instead. For example, I love essie, believe that they can do no wrong and that their newest fall collection is just perfect for pairing with any outfit through the fall and winter. Now I just need a chocolatey brown and my life will be complete.

Alrighty, so here's a good example of what jewel tones hopped up on pills look like. I chose this picture of Camilla Belle because, even though Katy Perry wore an extremely similar outfit complete with the same belt on the cover of the March issue of Elle, I hate Katy Perry, and this is more recent. 

But wait, this isn't just brightened jewel tones: the belt is tribal, the long blazer and silk trousers are menswear inspired and the entire look is straight out of the 70's. Bam. See how that works?

Note the dark polish on her fingers and toes and the fact that her accessories aren't competing for loudness. Normally it's recommended to pair a bright bag, belt or shoe with a simpler outfit to give it a focal point and make it pop, but with this trend, the whole outfit is already popping. The gold (always big for fall and winter) in her belt and bag tie together. Finally, her makeup is fresh and natural with a beautiful orangey blush/bronzer to go with the blazer - that part definitely doesn't need to be overdone, either.

Jade green is really being pushed as the trendy brighter jewel tone for fall, but I personally hope I don't see much of it. I just wish I'd found that brand new jade green silk Banana Republic tank top on half off day at Goodwill and sold it on eBay this year instead of last.. But alas, what's done is done. 

Speaking of Goodwill, Urban Outfitters has a really cute blazer that comes in lots of great colours for $78, but who's got $78 for a blazer? If you do, that's awesome, but the blazer and womens' pantsuit section of every thrift store suffers from a tragic lack of attention, so I highly recommend starting there. For example, I found a cute little mustard blazer (and a nice mustard, not a puke mustard) at a thrift store yesterday for $6.99. This obviously goes for the 70's and menswear-inspired trends as well - I found a beautiful size 2 grey wool boucle Barney's New York pant suit that looked new at the same store for $30. Go forth and resurrect those vintage clothes!

2. The 60's

As I mentioned, the 60's have finally descended upon us in all their mod-tastic glory once again. Or, well, for the first time I guess, if you weren't alive then like I wasn't. The 60's are popular on TV as well, with Pan Am and The Playboy Club set to become the hottest shows premiering this fall. They both look really well-done and I like Christina Ricci, but I can never keep up with weekly programs and I'll probably just catch up with them on Netflix in a year or so.

Moving right along, I think most of Prada's fall campaign is unforgivably disgusting, but here are a couple of images just in case you want to see what wearing experimental fibers on experimental drugs looks like.  

Disillusioned young rainbow fish in stupid hats and the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz agree: the 60's were and still are strange and confusing. There was also a Prada ad in the September issue of In Style that featured a colourblock shift dress and was a much better example than these, but unfortunately, that model also looked like the thing from Splice. :/

Anyway, one of the quintessential 60's pieces is the A-line shift dress, either in a solid colour or colourblock, and preferably a wool blend for fall and winter. Easy to layer and accessorise, it's hard to screw these up - add a pair of Jackie O sunglasses, a bright clutch and a pair of jewel tone tights and you're resurrecting the long-dead American dream.

This one's on sale for about $44, but I'm sure you can find a few cheaper ones if you comb eBay or the thrift store for a little while. Because their shape is so simple they're also pretty easy to make, either from scratch or as an alteration project.


If you've got a pixie haircut and some huge earrings, that's even better - think Edie Sedgwick. 

Beehive hairstyles are attempting to make a comeback as well, and I don't mean those weird chola bump-it hair crowns. I mean something smooth, sophisticated, and maybe not quite as dramatic as they were the first time around. So if you've got longer hair, it might be a fun thing to try. You'll look adorable in your shift dress and tights with either cut, I promise.

3. The 70's

Moving right along, it's the 70's now! Again! Yay?! 
If you were expecting me to talk about the Missoni for Target collection in the last section, don't worry - I'm going to make an entire post about it. ;D

Maxi dresses and skirts, pencil skirts, pencil belts, neutrals like camel, khaki, cream and navy and long, sleek, straight hair all fall into the 70's fall and pre-fall trend category. Now, I've seen a lot of folks pairing maxi dresses with denim jackets. Please don't do that. It's not boho, it's just white trash. If you must own a maxi dress and insist on wearing it into the fall, pair it with a cropped jacket or blazer or a longer blazer and belt. You know, I really don't even think that looks good, but whatever. It's definitely better than the denim jacket fiasco.
This random Beverley Hills fashion maven I found illustrates how to do this right, and also how to gracefully transition from summer to fall. Now, as for what I said about neon nail polish... Well, there are exceptions, just as there are to any rule. The first outfit pictured is neutral, so a few bright details look great with it, and it's actually from this summer. What's more, the darker your skin tone, the better bright colours will look. There's always something pleasing about contrast. 
All of her jewelry falls into the tribal category and far from being simply menswear-inspired, her blazers actually are from the mens' department, and she invites everyone to try shopping there. Pleased to be enlarging the images for a good look!
4. Patterns on Patterns on Patterns

Alright, this trend is fairly self-explanatory and not nearly as broad as most of the others mentioned here. The two things to remember about this trend are that tartan plaid will always be trendy for fall and winter and that it's important to contrast textures with all your patterns so that they don't blend into each other and create one big mess.

Here's something to sort of transition from summer to autumn...

... and something to transition from autumn to winter. 
Now, there's no exact science to this. It's one of those things that you just have to be bold and creative and have a good sense of aesthetic values to do.  
Unless you're shaped like Twiggy, the only thing I recommend is never forgetting to maintain structure within your outfit. It's really easy to let a loud pattern completely wash out the shape of your body, and you don't want that. Don't let it get too matchy-matchy, break it up at key points with horizontal lines in the form of belts, short skirts, etc. Don't forget to do what's flattering to your body type.

The only exception to the too-matchy-matchy rule is if you're going to put together something like this awesome Jonathan Saunders outfit, which has gotten a lot of attention. Marc Jacobs has a crazy awesome dalmatian polka dot outfit like this, too. You'll definitely be the talk of the town if you have the money and audacity to pair the same pattern with itself over and over and look good doing it.

5. Menswear-Inspired 

I won't go too much into this one because I keep mentioning it all over the place, but I do adore androgyny. If you'll notice, the picture to the right also echos the polka dot and 70's trends.

Every woman should have a high-end neutral blazer, business shirt/button-down blouse and pair of trousers in her closet, preferably all made of silk or a silk blend. Sheer chiffon blouses are always great for fall as well.

I will admit to not owning any of these things, though. I won't even spend $30 on a blouse. Once I'm finally out of college and can come up with a steady source of income, you'd better believe I'm finally going to invest in some quality wardrobe essentials, though.
If you're like me in these respects, eBay and thrift stores are the answer once again. 

For example, I bought the adorable vintage newsboy suspender shorts below for a total of about $16 on eBay. The other outfit, which I've posted before, consists of a (poorly made) $25 jacket from Target that was a gift, a $6 Old Navy shirt that was thrifted, a beautiful Italian wool vest that was also thrifted for around $5, a $15 pair of jeans from Alloy and a vintage belt.

6. The 40's

40's New Look styles are mostly awesome, but that's how I feel about this. Not enough decades. Add moar.

Kate Spade seems to love retro styles, so I'm not surprised that she managed to capture the 40's, the 60's the bright jewel tone and polka dot trends all in one ad campaign.

Yves Saint-Laurent has ventured into this territory as well, even though he was one of the biggest designers of the 60's. Apparently time isn't linear afterall.

John Galliano jumped on the boat, too. I don't really care if he's a crazed anti-Semite, he's always been one of my favourites.

As beautiful as this classic trend is, it's easily the least accessible and realistic one on this list. Most people just don't have the fashion know-how or funds to pull this off, and nothing is more annoying and unattractive than failed attempts at pin-up and classic vintage styles.

If you want to give it a whirl, though, a day dress or high-waisted wool skirt or pant suit is a good way to start, and don't forget about the obligatory cute hat and shoes. Etsy and eBay are probably the best places to seek these things out.

Speaking of antisemitism, drawing inspiration from the characters Bridget von Hammersmark and Shosanna Dreyfus in Inglorious Basterds (which I finally saw last night) might help, too. It's not about pin-up, it's about sexy ladies' suits and newsboy styles.

Also, the same site that directed me to the shift dress I posted earlier also has lots of different outfits put together by users, like the one on the right.
I couldn't find the exact page again after Firefox kept crashing and I had to leave this post to finish for later, but here's the main Fashion Finder directory. There's tons of inspiration there, even though most of the actual articles are straight out of magazines and very expensive.

7. (Pocahontas) Tribal

I saw a lot of this trend while I was in Romania over the summer. Native American looks probably seem exotic to Europeans the way Indian looks do to most of us. Whenever I see a fringed brown suede vest or purse I think "Pocahontas!", which also helps to clarify the sort of tribal I'm talking about. Putting brightly-coloured feathers into your hair like extensions didn't really catch on as a trend, but I have seen a few girls doing it and it works great so long as it's subtle. Forever 21 has also had tons of tribal items since late spring and they're still going strong, but here are a few other higher-end examples I found:

This example also follows the brighter jewel tone, menswear-inspired and 70's trends.

The example on the left is actually of tribal prints made out of typography. The only trick about taking neon and tribal prints together from summer into fall is, once again, to avoid those Day-Glo colours. Smaller points of bright tribal will really make your outfit pop, but keep it classy.                                                                                              Jewelry is probably the biggest manifestation of this trend - if you have anything made of brightly-coloured seed beads gathering dust in the bottom of a jewelry box somewhere, now is the time to dig it out and build an outfit around it.

8. Polka Dots

The first outfit on the right is the one I mentioned earlier, though they're all by Marc Jacobs.                Polka dots are pretty straightforward and self-explanatory as well, but in case you don't own any and are searching for inspiration, maybe try pairing a polka dot vintage secretary blouse with a belted polka dot maxi skirt, and you'll have three trends rolled into one. They should be different colours, though - aside from navy and mustard, rust orange and khaki are also beautiful classy fall tones.

9. Dramatic Eyeliner
This one branches off the 60's trend, but I was surprised to see something this bold showing up in the form of a multi-page spread in a magazine typically too vanilla for something this adventurous - I'm talking about the September issue of In Style. My artsy friends and I have been drawing on our faces for years, but it's one of those things I never really thought would burst into the super-mainstream of fashion. The spread also features the chick who's in The Rum Diary, which I'm pretty excited about, because it looks like a ridiculous drug-addled jaunt back to the 90's Johnny Depp style I vastly prefer.

I also really like the Louis Vuitton fall campaign, which appears in the same magazine - if we could just get upcoming trend #10 out of this ad, it'd be so sexy. The androgynous 40's military style paired with dramatic eyeliner is really interesting. If you look closely, there are quite a few fall fashion ads employing unusual and fairly innovative eye makeup.
10. Gorilla Sleeves 

Ok, so... I think I'm going to blame Kim Kardashian for starting this one last year (though it has been around much longer), that stupid slut. D&G did some really terrible shit like this back in '09. Maybe the reemergence of this trend coincides with the 40's trends; I'm not really sure. At any rate, people like Kim who are into fur are totally classless and uneducated and are merely attempting to flaunt an antiquated and senseless status symbol to get attention. It's disgusting, and this particular manifestation of said status symbol is possibly the most ridiculous one ever. What's next, silver fox bikinis? (Watch, it'll totally happen now. -facepalm-)

I vividly remember this ghastly ensemble from last year; she wore it to a basketball game. The other picture is from Bebe's fall collection, and I don't care to post any more than this. 

Just don't do it. Please. Fur vests are big for fall as well, and if you insist on going that or any other fur route, stick to faux fur or at least vintage pieces. Don't contribute to any new demand; it's just callous and selfish.

On a much lighter note, the spacing and font in this post are all nice and even before I post it; not sure what's going on there... Hopefully it's still enjoyable!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Craft(y) Project: Improved Thrift Store Dresses

A couple of years ago I got a couple of outrageously horrible floral dresses from the early 90's at the always-interesting treasure cache know as the Savers on Camelback. When the closets of the hipsters, rich older people, trannies and prostitutes in that area all combine they manage to form something akin to the Voltron or Captain Planet of fashion. It's pretty neat.

At any rate, I finally got around to modifying these dresses to be a bit more flattering at the beginning of the summer, and what I did basically requires no sewing skills, so maybe it'll inspire someone else to do the same.

Alright, here's the first dress. Just ghastly, isn't it? I don't know why it would even occur to someone to make something like this, much less wear it. It's like a horrible neverending flood of... Wait, that's not even floral. It's blueberries. And the blueberries aren't the blue part, they're pink. What the hell? It's also from England, just in case it wasn't quirky enough for you already.

So here's what I did to it. I took these pictures in a hurry and before I finished the edges and sewed darts into the bust, and I don't look very good in them, but I'm sure you get the idea. The puffy shoulders were the best part, so I retained those.

Here's the other one, what I assume to have been a bridesmaids' dress. It made me feel like I was going to an over-the-top garden/tea party in 1993.

And here's what I did to this one. I know it looks like I tried in these pics, but they took two minutes, seriously. I look pretty pudgy and the zipper's not even laying flat in the back picture, so don't judge too harshly. 

There was a piece of stiff ruffled mesh stuff in the shoulders making the puffs stand up, and I was going to retain those, but ended up getting rid of them because they were too awkward. Instead I just cut out the shoulders and made the opening in the back smaller. I tried to make it into a heart, but that proved to be too difficult for me and it wouldn't keep its shape when worn. Also the pearls aren't attached, they're just two oversized necklaces I decided to wear in an unusual way.

Today I also helped Ale start to make an old dress of her grandmother's into something short, strapless and cute. Instead of pitching old clothes, try to reinvent them - it's really fun and rewarding. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Favourite Show: Stuck With Hackett

As far as I'm concerned, Chris Hackett is the most interesting man on television right now.

You'd have to watch the show to understand why - he's an engineer/artist from New York who sounds like Robert Downey Jr. when you close your eyes and just listen. His sense of humour is on the same wavelength as mine, his wit's literally sharp enough to cut through an aluminum can with the aid of water. I love understanding how things work and I also love laughing my ass off, so Hackett does it for me. He mentions being afraid of attracting centuries-old zombie hobos in the first episode and electrocuted himself within the first 3 minutes of the most recent one. 

Seriously, if I were a guy, I know that I'd be like him. I even made my mom watch an episode to confirm it, and after laughing in disbelief and making it clear that she thought he was out of his mind, she said: "Yep, you would, because that's the kind of shit your father did". It made me proud. Looking at Hackett I'm a bit surprised that he's only 38, but I guess getting your face nearly blown off will age you a bit. Whatever. He makes Thursdays sexy.

This picture was sort of stolen from the blog of a guy who works on the show (I think). Winning? Definitely.

Here's a badass interview I also found. It's lengthy but I wouldn't post it if it wasn't awesome, so read it. Did I mention that he doesn't eat meat and finds consumerism inherently disgusting? I think I'm in love, or that I have a new hero at the very least.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Craft(y) Project: Yet More Textilesy Containment Vessels

So I decided to go ahead and post one of the little random blurbs I have prepared instead of waiting until I feel like talking about my jaunt to Eastern Europe first. I'm not sure how I'll structure that post, if I'll break it up into several or what, but I've decided to try to avoid long lapses in posting from now on, in any case.

These little projects are exceedingly simple but kind of cute.

I recycled a weird Chinese shirt I found at a thrift store for $1.99 several years ago and never wore into a little bento carrying-style bag. The lining is sewed directly onto the shirt because the cotton is kind of worn and weak, and I figure I'll just use this for running errands anyway. I have a few other old shirt projects in the works, too.

A good friend of mine just went back to college and I quickly made her this Totoro pencil pouch for good luck. It's more or less cylindrical and has a zipper. The material is actually a suedette-like upholstery fabric I happened upon at SAS, everyone's favourite ghettolicious fabric warehouse. 

My friend was completely bowled over by this and that made me really happy, so it looks like I'll be concocting handmade Christmas gifts again this year, since those always go over the best. :]