Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Style Inquiry

What's your favourite fashion accessory?
I’m not sure I can even answer this question. Lately I’ve been into stretchy beaded bracelets and big rings; however, I also take these off when I teach or grade. I like the way they look, but I can’t keep them on.
I used to love earrings, but my ears didn’t, and I found out I’m allergic to nickel, which a lot of earrings involve in some way. My ears are very sensitive generally.
As far as actual fabric accessories go, I love scarves. I have a bunch, and I wear all of them a lot. I also love cardigans and hoodies, though I usually consider those as a garment rather than an accessory.

Who's your fashion role model?
I have always been fond of Katharine Hepburn. She was one of the first women to officialize pants for women. She didn’t like wearing gowns, but she looked beautiful in them, and her era of gown fashion is one of my favorites.
Although she has her misses, I’ve admired Nicole Kidman’s red carpet style for a long time, as well as Cate Blanchett’s, though I can’t say I’d model myself after them particularly. I would, if I were to be on a red carpet, wish to be sleek, glamorous and feminine with just a hint of something special, which is how I think these ladies look at the Oscars.

Cate Blanchett, photo Daily Mail

Katherine Hepburn, trousered. Photo from the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

What do you always carry with you?
When I leave the house without a purse, as for a walk, I have my house/car keys, my phone, and my Shuffle. Sometimes I’ll carry a credit card or five bucks, just in case.
I used never to carry a purse, back in the day. I’m not sure now how I crammed things in pockets, but back then I wore jeans with roomier pockets.
When I carry a purse, I have those things plus my wallet, at least one small notebook, my office keys, a pen or two, lipstick, flash drives, my medications “passport,” my ELPH, Dramamine, a mirror, a bunch of business cards, eyedrops, checkbook, a tape measure, and any amount of change and paperclips at the bottom of the bag.
Let’s not even get started on my workbag, which I take every time I go to the office.

How would you describe your style?
Feminine. Sleek. Lush. Coordinated. Comfortable.
Those are just the adjectives that come to mind when I think of my favorite garments. I like bouclé sweaters, satiny or ruffled dresses, fitted blouses, graphic tees, fluid trousers, flared jeans, and comfortable skirts. My look isn’t really modern, and it certainly isn’t urban. It’s hard to describe, so I have to think about what I gravitate toward, which are things that are soft and pretty, things with an homage to my favorite historical periods or places, and things that are practical for teaching in.
Actually, I have a reputation as being one of the more look-concerned instructors in my department; when I bright my A-game, I look like a young professional with a unique flavor.
My style is a lot different from my teenage years, when oversized jeans, flannel, and big T-shirts were de rigueur. Oh, grunge. You were so easy.

What's your favourite? Jeans, sunglasses or heels?
Jeans, sitting on the hips, flared, slightly stretch but not vulgarly so. And cheap. I hate to pay over 30 bucks for a pair of jeans. I also like them slightly long so that eventually the bottoms will fray slightly. I also refuse to wear jeans that have tiny zippers. I sort of bridge the gap between the ultra-lows of these past ten years and the jeans that actually sit at the waist. Every woman has specific demands for her jeans, and I am no exception.
Let me be clear, though—I love shoes, and I particularly love interesting heels. I mix up my wardrobe so that I can justify owning as many shoes as I do. But if someone said to me, you can either wear jeans or heels, but not both, for the rest of your life, I’d pick jeans.
I finally got into the trend of big sunglasses; here’s the thing, though—most sunglasses look too big on my face. My sister used to say I looked like a bug. Now, I do on purpose, just like everyone else. I have to say, the big sunglasses, as long as the frame is fitted to my face, look well on me. Very Audrey. They’re cheap ones, though. I own one expensive pair of sunglasses, Ralph Lauren prescription ones for those days when I want to wear glasses. But they live in the car, in a hard case.

What inspired you to blog about fashion?
Project Runway got me blogging about fashion. I probably talked about an interesting outfit or pair of shoes I’d discovered before, but Project Runway was what made me articulate my views on fashion and, more specifically, the fashions on the show.

What is your favourite fashion store?
Does Forever 21 count? Most of my clothes come from there or Charlotte Russe these days. The problem is it’s very difficult for me to find women’s clothes that fit me. I wear a lot of juniors. I used to love Victoria’s Secret, but the past few seasons have been uninspiring. Same with Wet Seal and Windsor, though I still visit these stores.
Looking back on it, I realize I have run the gamut of clothing stores. I used to be JC Penney, then American Eagle and Eddie Bauer, then Deb and Lerner’s, up through Delia’s and now into Forever 21. I used to like Express a lot, too, but I haven’t found much there lately, aside from some pants. Same with New York & Company, though I still look there occasionally.

What is your favourite fabric in clothing?
What’s the occasion? In JoAnn’s, I’m drawn to silky flower prints that make good dresses. I also love the brocades. I am entranced by Dupioni silk. I own an obscene number of Victoria’s Secret bouclé sweaters because, while difficult to wash, they are lush and soft and I love pulling them out of the “winter” bag every fall.

Who are your favourite designers?
I’m rarely interested continuously in a particular designer. I like collections as a whole, or I’m caught by individual pieces.
For example, I was in Saks Fifth Avenue in Cincinnati recently. I felt wildly out of place, but I traipsed around the designer floor for a bit. Before I’d stirred more than ten steps past the door from my hotel (the store and hotel are attached), I was arrested by a coat—purple semi-ombred, in a jacquard or similar fabric. I promised myself I’d remember who designed it, and even “visited” the coat three times during my stay. It was obviously past my price range, but it was beautiful and I just wanted to look at it. Well, I forgot the designer, and today called Saks to see if they could find it. Escada. $1995. Could I buy it? Yes. But I wouldn’t, in good conscience.

I enjoyed looking around the designer floor for sheerly aesthetic reasons. They also had some rather adorable cashmere sweaters with ruffles on them.
I actually do like Escada overall. They had some gorgeous dresses in the spring/summer line. I also am fond of the present Louis Vuitton for fall. I used to follow Prada shoes, and have been attracted to their garments in the past. I also like Burberry, which in a lot of ways meshes with my style. If I had the money, I’d go for Burberry and Escada.

Burberry, Fall/Winter 2010, Photo from The Chocolate Fashion Blog

Who or what inspires your style?
I am very affected by what I am reading or watching at the time. For instance, every time I watch The Mummy, I get the urge to curl my hair and wear a blouse and khaki skirt or pants, like Rachel Weisz’s character. I also get out my white cotton nightie.
I am inspired by time periods. I like the 40s and 20s, and tend to put styles together with those eras in mind. I am addicted to T-strap shoes, for instance, with a 40s-style heel. Sometimes I buy Vogue Vintage patterns from the 30s and 40s in particular.
I suppose I sometimes borrow from a TV character—like Chuck on Pushing Daisies. But then again, I have had students tell me that I remind them of Chuck anyway, so maybe that’s not me borrowing so much as we’re already alike.

Chuck, Photo from Ladylike

I’m inspired by basic fabric and color, also. I can’t remember exactly how I got onto my bouclé kick, but I think I just saw a nice color and shape and went for it—actually, I think my first were two of the same style, burgundy and ice blue, V-neck, perfect for teaching in for the winter but also soft and sleek for me, curve-embracing without being vulgar, pretty but comfortable. When I see a garment in a store or catalog and think it looks cozy or flattering to my figure, I’ll get that.
I guess I am most inspired by my own body, what I know it needs and what I know I can move in. Dance is a big part of my style, and the dance world has always heavily affected the fashion world. That’s probably part of my sweater thing. I could dance in any of my best sweaters and be comfortable.

Would you choose to buy something high quality or make it yourself if you could?
I would buy it if I could. I like to make dresses and other garments, but I wouldn’t like the pressure of having to make a wearable garment if I had an actual goal. When I sew, I like the feeling that if it doesn’t turn out, it’s no matter. My sewing techniques are not the strongest, and I’m always learning as I go. I’ve had some disasters. I can’t imagine what would happen if I had to make a garment out of, say, some expensive silk, and I screwed up. I have made some successful dresses out of inexpensive satins, but as I say, there’s no pressure.
There is the added complication of not being skilled with particular garment elements or techniques. I’ve made several pairs of pants, but only been really satisfied with one pair, having finally located a pattern that fitted me well. I have a very difficult time with lapels for blazers and coats. And I certainly have never really experienced making a garment with no pattern, or if I have, only the barest, simplest item. I have no experience with draping. Someday.


Cloud of Secrets said...

Awesome -- thanks for playing the tag response game! I'm sorry my bug comment has stuck for so long. If it makes things feel less personal, I *still* think that about almost *anyone* wearing big glasses, even today, when they're stylish again -- especially if the people have slender faces. Personally, I think my nose is too short and plump and my cheekbones too broad for big glasses, ever. I always need something a little more lean.

There are so many sources today for post-season discounted designer stuff. If you're still thinking about that fabulous Escada coat come February, when stores want to roll out their S/S collections, try online hunting that coat, and calling the Cinci store to see if it's still there and the price. At least, if it's gone, it's such a distinctive piece that you know it's gone to someone else whom it really *spoke* to.

Places like Garnet Hill and Pure Company offer lots of cute ruffled cashmere, and it's in the low $100s rather than designer $200+.

Abs said...

To be fair, I also think I look like a bug in big glasses. Or, really, normal sized glasses. But now it's acceptable, so people have swung around to my look :) It's sort of like hats--most hats look too large for my little face, but once in a while there are suddenly scads of hats that are a little more forgiving of waifs.
I hadn't thought of tracking down the Escada post-season. Cinci doesn't have my size, but someone might. Possibly no one would have ordered a lot of them, but you're right--someone would be getting a great coat.
I noticed Garnet Hill in your post. I plan to check it out when I get some free time.

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