Sunday, 26 February 2017

ITSO . . . In the Style Of . . . Katharine Hepburn

Dressing up is a bore. At a certain age, you decorate yourself to attract the opposite sex, and at a certain age, I did that. But I'm past that age. 
- Katharine Hepburn

Yet in a People interview with Jane Fonda on Katharine Hepburn, Fonda recalls many comments about perception, mainly other peoples' perceptions. Hepburn said to Fonda, when the two worked together in the movie, On Golden Pond, "You never could’ve made it back then,". It must have taken Fonda aback; however Fonda did not demonstrate any annoyance . . . 

She taught me that self-conscious isn't necessarily bad, that it's important to be aware of how you present [yourself.], . . . Not just in what you have on and how you look, but your presentation as a human being in all levels was important. 
- Jane Fonda 

My chosen quote by Hepburn represents two different ways of thinking and time frames, whereas, Fonda's recollection comes directly from a Hollywood setting. One can conclude that the realistic Hepburn in Hollywood was aware of perception, even though she seemed to be rather rebellious when it came to adopting man-style shirts and pants into her wardrobe in 1940.

There are many who have been inspired by Katharine Hepburn's style. GlamAmorin a 2012 post, does a beautiful pictorial overview of Hepburn's Cinema Collection and her influence on the adaptation of menswear for women's styles.  If you would like to refine the look for yourself in 2017, make sure you include the following top 6 ways to adopt and adapt the style of Katharine Hepburn in your closet . . . 


Photo Source: GlamAmor
1.  Collared button down shirts in white particularly, and in pastel pale stripes such as blue, beige, yellow, pink and white on white.

2. Blazers, whether fitted or oversize proportioned to your size, are in basic dark colours. "Oversize proportioned to your size" means that shoulder seams, sleeve length and body length are in proportion to your height and size, albeit with a loose body cut.

3. Flats, classic loafers, in every colour, whether suede, smooth or textured leathers.

4. Trousers, not just pants, but classically cut trousers, that are loose-fitting. They should be fitted at the waist, wide through the leg (but not too wide), and have pockets. In the 1940s she chose the classic colours primarily found in the men's department such as shades of camel, brown, grey and black.

5. Simple Jewellery was her choice since the pants provided the statement during a time when allegedly fashionable women chose dresses and skirts. Diamond stud earrings and a single strand of pearls seem to be all she wanted or needed.

. . . 6. As she got older, the turtleneck was worn under or replaced the button-down shirt.

How are you adapting the Katharine Hepburn style?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Six Ways to Achieve the Sport Luxe Look

Sport Luxe has been defined as "fusion between fashion and fitness" (Retrieved on February 20, 2017 from Jasmine Howell's blog, RebelInsider, post dated May 13, 2016). Comfortable casual has embraced elements of sport luxe, but sport luxe is more specific than comfortable casual. Therefore sport luxe can be part of comfortable casual but comfortable casual does not have to include sport luxe. Perhaps categorizing clothing is not a necessary function for one's closet. 

However if you want to incorporate sport luxe into your closet, you may need to consider these factors.


How to achieve the "sport luxe" look:

1) Fitness - You have to be fit to pull it off. Yoga leggings and contoured body-hugging t-shirts show off every muscle, along with any lumps and bumps. Camouflage may be necessary. If you have the body or the self-confidence to wear leggings outside of the gym, make sure they are thick enough to obscure the colour of your underwear. It's an unfair category; you look better in this item of sport luxe clothing when you are in great shape.

Brain's Keds Photo Source: Brian Davis
2) Flats or "flat fats" are all generated from a variety of sports, from jogging to skateboarding. Save your expensive joggers for jogging but do wear lighter weight sneakers, such as Keds. They give you the "sport luxe" look without the functional chunkiness, although there are those who like that fat shoe look. Think about proportion relative to what you are wearing and your size when you want to wear a clunkier shoe.

Photo Source: Unknown
3) In the sport luxe category, clothing items are both functional and fashionable in and out of the gym. This does require some self-judgement. Of course it is ok to wear what you are comfortable in at the gym. If you like lifting weights in a t-shirt blotched with bleach stains and oversize torn sweats; fine; but that is not the look that functions outside the gym. Sloppy and slovenly is not sport luxe.

Photo Source: ZAPYLE
8 Cool Ways to Wear a Sports Jersey
4) Balance your look. There's oversize and there's balanced oversize. Thinking you can wear your boyfriend's or husband's XXL rugby shirt when you are a size small or medium will not pull off the "luxe" part of sport luxe. An XXL football jersey with XXL sweatpants will just make you look dowdy at the least, and a puff ball at worst, in addition to being really clumsy and awkward to wear. Make sure you choose something oversized that is proportional to your size. If you are choosing a large full top, balance it with those opaque leggings or a pencil skirt. 

5) Head to toe sport-oriented clothing is overkill on the street. Minimalism is a criteria that applies to the number of sport theme items of clothing you wear at any one time. This is why you see heels with track pants or sneakers with a cotton t-shirt style dress. Take another look at the Zapyle photo - that is sport luxe minimalism.

Stacked bracelets and cuffs add luxe to comfortable casual or sport luxe looks.
Photo Source: JoyD
6) For extra luxe, add cuffs, bangles or Swarovski sparkle on your wrist while wearing sneakers and a sport brand t-shirt. Earrings are great, especially if they are big, but never those cutesy little soccer balls or sport shoes or hockey sticks - that's just "kitsch". Necklaces can be iffy so keep it simple. It is the sport-oriented item of clothing that is your statement, so don't have a big statement necklace compete with your sport luxe look.

Sport luxe is very different from wearing your team's colours and insignia on play day. Think minimalism and balance, both males and females, and you will never lose no matter what the look.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Max Mara Experience: What a Gift!

I have a friend with whom I love shopping. It seems that we gravitate to similar brands, even similar colours and we enjoy each other's commentary about design, price points and service. Unfortunately she lives about a six hour drive from me and so we do not have regular shopping dates, but rather, if we are lucky, an annual excursion. 

Years ago I remember a visit to a consignment store with her, where there was a Max Mara dress and long jacket ensemble. This was a time when I was teaching in a public school and she was working on her Masters with plans of establishing herself with a financial institution. We were the same size although she is taller than I. The navy Max Mara dress was perfect for either one of us, however, she thought it might be a bit short for her. She deferred to me and I bought it. It was the perfect length for me. I still have it. I still wear it. 

I do love Max Mara and look for the brand in consignment shops, on sale while at Holt Renfrew and in factory outlet stores when I am in Europe. My friend also loves Max Mara and shops in upscale and designer storefronts wherever she is in the world. Life is good.

Max Mara Plum Jacket Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Last week she came to visit and to make a long story a tad shorter, she gifted me with a Max Mara jacket. She bought it for herself but it spent more time in her closet than on her and so she decided to offer it to me. It happened to be a bit too short for her. Our shopping history may have some repetitive features. It turns out it's the perfect length for me. It does have a belt however I find with the belt, the proportion is not right. The fabric is rather thick and it bunches at the waist where I prefer not to have fabric bunching. There is an ever so slight swing action happening and I do love that style.

At first, I found myself hesitating; calculating how much it cost her; how much she might get at a consignment shop; and should I offer her compensation and how much; or would I offend her if I offered too little . . . I finally just said "thank you and I love it". 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Five Best Approaches to Sale Shopping for Clothing


Winter wear has been "on sale" since Boxing Day and in February and March many storefronts will be trying to get rid of their stock. In brand stores here in the west, they have to pack leftover seasonal merchandise up and send it to the outlet or discount brand store, usually in large city locations. Most everything from the west goes to eastern Canada. 

This is the perfect time to pick up cashmere or wool sweaters, pants and blazers in dark colours and formal wear. At the end of January, the Bay, after having reduced clothing stock by 50%, added another reduction of 25, 30, or 40 per cent after the 50% and then gave "seniors" another 15% off. This is a perfect time to suggest taking your mother or grandmother shopping with you. I bought an $80.00 Olsen t-shirt for $16.00. When I asked about the "seniors' discount", the sales associate responded that she doesn't question anyone who asks.  

Here are the five best approaches to successful sale shopping:

1. Set aside a block of time of two hours or more. It is possible to spend 2 hours in one department store looking through sales racks. If you feel rushed for time, you will not do a thorough job of your search. 

2. Take a list of basics that you need or will be in need of soon. Stay focused on the list but keep your eyes opened and do not disregard unlisted items. You need to also be open to items that have been marked down beyond reasonable. Jeans were not on my list but when I saw that the Calvin Klein's would be under $10.00 I could not resist. 

3. Select and take the items that interest you as you search. I used to like to peruse the department first and then go back and collect what I felt I wanted and needed to try on. During a sale, that is self-sabotage. As well, don't rely on a sales associate's help - very often they don't seem as enthusiastic when they are selling sale merchandise.

4. Be willing to try pieces that are not labelled with your "normal" size. If you call yourself a "medium", there are brands that size at "small" that will fit you and in some brands, you may have to go to "large". If you see it and you like it, but it's not in your size, take what looks reasonable with you to the fitting room. You won't know for sure unless you try it on. 

5. Set a budget. If you go sale shopping and say, I will spend $???.00 and not a penny more, you will feel better when you get home. If you spend with only the thought that, "I got such a good deal" and come home knowing that you spent way more than you could afford, the only thing you will feel is remorse. Better to come home with one $16.00 t-shirt and say, I saved $64.00 than spend $100.00 you don't have, no matter what the savings.

Carolina Herrera was talking about trends and style when she said this, but it applies to buying things on sale . . . 

Don't do it! If it doesn't look good on you, don't worry about it. 
- Carolina Herrera

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

ITSO. . . It's So in the Style of . . . Isabella Rossilini


Isabella Rossilini, former model and actress, now director and producer, has aged. Really? Don't we all. Twenty-one years ago, Lancome fired her for no longer "having it" - she was "past it" at 44. There's that "it" thing again. Apparently at that time, she told them, women are entering a powerful place, a time of independence and assertion. They didn't buy Rossinlini's "it" in 1996. It is now 2017 and guess who was rehired by the company who told her she was too old two decades ago. Welcome back Isabella! Obviously to a very different way of thinking at Lancome. 

I love what Sally Hughes wrote in The Guardian:
What I’m struggling to understand is how, when Lancôme called her just eight months ago to ask her to return to the fold, Rossellini didn’t suggest they shove their mascara up their derriere and twist it.
You can read more about how she felt here but basically the sentiment I got from the article was the past is the past. It no longer is important what the Company thought then, it is now and the future that is important. Thank you Sally Hughes for a great article on the 64 year old Rossilini.

Isabella Rossilini at the
Rome Film Festival, 2015
Photo Source: Zimbio

No matter where she was or is on the chronological scale, I have always admired Rossilini's use of accessories, particularly shawls and statement necklaces.

The shawl is a beautiful fashion expression and it also keeps you warm in overly conditioned interiors and cool evenings al fresco.

SPhoto Source: BT News
From a jewellery maker's perspective, I respect that Rossilini loves a necklace of a particular style. How do I know she does? Simply by the number of photos that I have seen of her wearing pieces that include black, white pearls and pink. 
Isabella Rossilini, 2010
Photo Source: Pure People
I debated whether to add some photos of her when she was a model and then decided not to. After all, with respect  to Rossilini, the past is the past, we work from the present forward, and that is how we make the difference.  She has said "This is what 65 looks like." She obviously says it with pride and we need to learn from her, not from archaic ideas that when you reach a certain age, you no longer have "it". 

This is a good place to add Carolina Herrera's quote:

Elegance isn't solely defined by what you wear. It's how you carry yourself, how you speak, what you read. 

- Carolina Herrera 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

On Bandage Dresses and Bad Language

with a consequential NO THANKS

I try to write something everyday and often go to writing exercises to accomplish this. There is an exercise that asks one to force-fit three completely unrelated ideas chosen randomly and write a 1000 word article relating the three concepts in a socially significant way. I put ten ideas in the hat and the three I chose were Donald Trump, bad language and bandage dresses. In effect the first two are not unrelated; however the bandage dress did prove to be a challenge. I put one more criteria upon the exercise and that was to write it as a blog post. Here I go . . . 

The American President's "locker room language" remark, in an attempt to dismiss his use of two very derogatory words when denigrating women he has known, reflects the evolution of "bad language". I guess he feels that if he associates it with an immature "behind closed doors" kind of behaviour that we will accept it. He's hiding behind that cultural construct, not facing what he said. He probably should have said something more like, "I said it, I now wish I hadn't." Take responsibility for the words you say and the words you write, don't blame anyone or anything else. Yet this may be significant as far as what is acceptable or becoming more acceptable in society. 

As long as men feel that somehow women are or should be more "pure" than them then there will always be "locker room language". Inequality still exists at this most base level. The meanings of these types of words are used to denigrate someone either by sex, ethnicity, colour, political affiliation, or socio-economic status. Therefore it is all tied up in meaning and perception. 

The word "fuck" only holds as much negativity as society has assigned to it and here in North America it is considered the worst expletive there is. It is still called the F word by many and it is still a difficult word for me to say and write (although I have done both). At one time its use indicated a low social status or a minimal educational background but now perhaps it is in the process of eventually losing its force. That may be, but still, because of its "bad language" status it finds itself more so in adolescent banter, rap lyrics and in "the locker-room". I think of the use of "damn" or "hell", words that were once considered blasphemous, are now used without any horrible consequences. I remember being in Ireland and hearing "fuck" in conversations as likely as "damn". It's a word; it's just a word, to indicate emphasis, and perhaps it is evolving. In France, a public billboard read, "Fuck le S.I.D.A." (SIDA is the acronym for AIDS). I say "merde" or "schiesse" more than I say "shit"; in a foreign language it seems less vulgar. In translation or different cultural contexts, the connotations are not the same.

"Bandage dresses" are in the same category. In 1985, when French designer, Hervé Peugnet (now known as Hervé Léger), introduced the bandage dress, who would have thought that for the past thirty-two years it would keep recurring? It was seen as a trend in European discos in 1985 and is now replacing the traditional prom dress in the United States. The bandage dress has infiltrated into traditional settings and has affected all ages.

I should have left it hanging in the store but
I did remove the frou frou from the shoulder strap.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Who is buying this dress? I would think, but I have no statistical evidence to prove or disprove this: it is mainly the late teens and the twenty-somethings; however, the thirty- and forty- somethings who have something to prove are buying them and the fifty- or iffy- somethings who are searching for their twenties have them in their closets. It has infiltrated all ages and very often, all sizes. Although it sells most in the "up to the size 8" range.

And yes there is one in my closet. I had lost forty pounds in 2011, needed a dress for a charity event and had something to prove to myself. I wore it to the charity banquet and maybe, I can't quite remember, for New Year's once. I have used expletives more than that. 

We need to lose the meanings behind both the bandage dress and expletives. Like the word "fuck", the bandage dress won't go away and they have their purposes for the persons who use them. Is it possible that eventually both will become mundane and no one will blink when either is used? There are mothers all over North America who are trying not to see the negative connotations of the bandage dress on their sixteen year old daughters as the young women swoon over them and demand them as their prom dresses.

Will all this cause the demise of society? Likely not. When the telephone was invented, some considered it an instrument of the devil and there were predictions that communication between people would suffer and hence the demise of society was imminent. Rock and roll was seen in the same way. Mini-skirts were probably viewed just like bandage dresses until your Math teacher showed up in one. When "hell" or "damn" were once used, you would end up in the public stockade and scorned. I think society will survive while wearing bandage dresses and using expletives in their conversations because both just may lose their initial shocking meaning. There will be other things and words to take their places.

Back to "The Donald" . . . I have put him in the same category as bad language and bandage dresses. Incongruence is what motivates growth and development in society. Donald Trump provides that contrast to all that we traditionally know as political and social decorum. He needed to prove something and was needed to prove something - we shall see what that something is. We shall also see how the reaction to the Trump contrast will develop, along with bad language and bandage dresses.

As writing exercises go . . . I'm not really sure if the objective was reached but, this one was note-worthy with a consequential no thanks.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

ITSO . . . In the Style of . . . Carolina Herrera

Photo Source: BusinessOfFashion

My favourite Carolina Herrera look is a pencil skirt with a white shirt. Actually it is the white shirt that is her trademark.

I love the look of the slightly upturned collar and the 3/4 length sleeve. Whether comfortable casual at leisure or business casual and covered with a jacket, the white shirt works and it is so, in the style of Carolina Herrera. 

On Herrera offers Rules for Perfectly Simple Style" and rule #2 is that the white shirt is a "vital" item. She advises that with trousers, a man style fit is acceptable, but with a pencil skirt, it should be fitted. She also claims that for her the white shirt is like a "security blanket". Rule #5 is that "accessories make the outfit" and so it has to be if you are wearing a lot of white shirts and black bottoms. 

Elegance isn't solely defined by what you wear. It's how you carry yourself, how you speak, what you read. 
- Carolina Herrera 

Her Spring 2017 collection is predominantly black and white, with a few florals and metallics to break things up a bit and of course, she comes out to take a bow at the end in a white shirt and black skirt. Predictable yes, but always elegant and dependable. 

Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas, but what makes it new is the way you put it together. 
- Carolina Herrera

She has said many things in respect to clothing and fashion that I truly believe and so I shall respectfully leave the last words to her . . . Thank-you Carolina Herrera, we need to hear those words.

Always choose style over fashion: wear something that makes you look beautiful. 
Attention to detail is of utmost importance when you want to look good. 
It's important to find what really suits who you are, because style isn't only what you wear, it's what you project.