Friday, December 21, 2007

The Weirdest Fashion News of the Year...

happened to break today, all the way at the end of December. Moments ago, I was informed via Fashionista and Variety that Shirley MacLaine is set to play Coco Chanel in a biopic. It'll run on Lifetime as a miniseries.

MacLaine as an older Chanel doesn't shocks me. She may be highly weird, but she's also a terrific actress with a presence lacking in most. But a high fashion LTM (Lifetime Movie)? This'll be rich.

I'm sure we'll be thoroughly amused and horrified at the same time.

A Worthwhile Fast Fashion Fix

Besides Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney at H&M, I've been constantly disappointed by diffusion lines, particularly those at Target. Proenza Schouler did some cute stuff, but the quality and focus of the Go International pieces always fails to impress.

However, it looks like Target has scored in the designer accessories division. I've examined Loeffler Randall's tiny collection of bags and shoes, and I must say, they stay true to Jessie Randall's original vision. I'm dying for her black patent leather boots from the main line, but until I win the lottery, these precious peep toe flats will do.

I'm now anxiously awaiting my trip to the Midwest this holiday season -- if only to scour their Targets for pieces the Brooklyn location is sure to sell out of in minutes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why I Like Shopping at Old Navy

In general, Old Navy's clothes are crap. The poor make, poor fit and poor styling turn most people off of the Gap's bastard child.

Yet somehow, I always score big at the retailer. Here are my tips for shopping down:

Try everything on. Sometimes, the most boxy, unsophisticated piece will look rad off the rack and on your body. I have a tshirt dress -- from this summer -- that I paid $12 dollars for and looks better than anything else I own. It fall just right.

Don't buy pants. Old Navy pants never fit right. They don't look good on any body type, the sizing is incredibly skewed and the styles are horrific. Simply avoid.

Stick with cotton. Fabrics like velvet, wool and satin don't translate well in the low-end market. They just look cheap.

Never pay full price. If you pick up incredibly inexpensive pieces at Old Navy, spending a pretty penny on loftier brands won't feel so wrong.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gifting Lesson #2: Buy For Them

It's hard not to buy a gift that you would love to receive yourself.

But unless you and your friend/relative/coworker have remarkably similar tastes, it's probably not the best of ideas. Instead, think about their interests and preferences. As much as I adore the new Band of Outsiders for Sperry Topsiders, my college age cousins would like nothing more than a new pair of Chuck Taylors. Pink polo wearers, they are not. And for my mother's new home, nothing speaks to me as Florence Broadhurst's wallpaper does. However, Mom would much prefer a batik table runner. Her tastes run more '60s hippie than '50s housewife.

This holiday season, I vow to suck-it-up and buy the gifts my loved-ones really want. Even if that means buying my Grams another Rachel Ray cookbook. Oy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Goodbye, Blueprint: mag industry=scary!*

Another one of my favorite magazines, Martha Stewart's Blueprint, folded today. Angled at creative 20-somethings, Blueprint is just one more publication to die within the last year and a half. Others include Jane and Elle Girl.

The main reason these three mags folded is because they couldn't sell ads. The reason they couldn't sell ads is because, well, their market was too niche.

As middle class, well-educated quarter-lifers, we -- as in, their market -- may have great taste and a breadth of knowledge, but when it comes to finances, we still can't afford a Louis Vuitton Speedy.

It's also quite difficult to target ads to an audience who wears mostly vintage and smaller designers like Mayle, Vena Cava and Lyell (brands that don't sell ads themselves). Quirky preferences result in a smaller circulation.

Like Elle Girl before it, Blueprint will remain online. Unfortunately, Jane met a worse demise -- it's gone forever. Rumor has it, though, that founder Jane Pratt (who was fired from the mag three years ago) is planning on launching something new, aimed toward hip, middle-aged women.

Why am so melancholy about Blueprint, Jane and Elle Girl in particular? Because unlike lots of the other women's interest pubs out there, I actually found these valuable, well-written and worth my three dollars and change. Even Elle Girl, which was technically aimed at teens, fits this description better than Cosmo, Glamour, et al. As a journalist, it's becoming clearer and clearer that the only secure place to hold a job in this industry is online.

But what we're currently missing is a Web site as cool as these mags. Sure, Fashionista is a great blog, but it lacks the in-depth articles of a magazine. has a great format, but the features are a little too mass-produced for women like me.

What's your ideal online mag look like?

*headline courtesy of my brilliant friend, Marisa Rindone, who is thankful she works at a Dot Com.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bye Bye To Wayfarers? Not Just Yet...

Let us pray that Ray-Ban wayfarers do not go the way of the trucker hat. To see those icons of cool stuffed into the book of Burnt Hipster Fads would sadden me greatly. Mostly because I still love the look of wayfarers.

Before now, I've bought the cheap five dollar knock-offs on the street. Why? One, because I'm inclined to believe paying an exorbitant amount for sunglasses is silly. Two because wayfarers are not only made by Ray-Ban -- like aviators, they're not trademarked, so any other company can design a pair (I feel this relieves me of any guilt I might feel for buying a knock-off).

However, I think I'm ready to finally take the plunge and buy a pair of fancy sunglasses. If wayfarers disappear from the pop culture lexicon next year, I know that it will only take a decade for them to return. This red and black pair from retro super future accessories may seem a bit too early '90s to you, but I'm personally willing to take that risk. I promise I won't pair them with bicycle shorts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What Does Green Really Mean?

The state of the environment has been a hot-button topic for the past two years now, and as a journalist, I've been called upon to write several "green" lifestyle stories. I try to inject as much skepticism as possible, but when you're writing a piece about cute green housewares, it's a bit difficult to delve into the marketing ploy behind them without completely alienating your well-meaning, deep-pocketed audience.

So this is what I really think about the whole Green "thing." Overall, for those genuinely trying to make a difference, going green is a good thing. It means people are taking steps, little by little, to make less waste. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But in general, I don't believe buying an environmentally-friendly sweater is going to save the world. Particularly when it's made out of organic cotton, yet produced in India in one day by three 7-year-olds, then shipped to the US on a massive, gas-sucking cargo plane. Luckily for the makers of these products, it's pretty easy to up the price a bit and market a not-so-conscious item as something that will benefit the environment, whether it's true or not.

At an industrial design conference I attended last October, a journalist discussed the green concept -- and what we as individuals can do about it. He made a perfect point, in my opinion.

It's not us who will make the lasting difference, it's the companies producing stuff in mass
quanitities that can actually reverse the direction in which our world is going. If they can start sizing down the ecological footprint from the first step of production on, we could all breath a little easier. And stop feeling so guilty about shopping at H&M.