Friday, May 7, 2010

secret smile...

When I stumble upon a store or website that is so great, so fabulously retro or indie – whatever – I become a fashion deviant. My usually open-forum take on life goes all Mona Lisa on your asses. I’ve got a secret smile about my special find but don’t even try to go deeper into the canvas, I’m not giving anything away.

It’s a terrible way to live. I want people to know about the great things I see and buy, yet I don’t want people to go out and buy the same things. The chances of that happening are pretty minimal – I’m not talking about going to the same Supre sale – these are the places where individuality is the underlying theme; if you can’t find something original there you might as well give up all hope now and wear whatever the Hallensteins/Glassons conglomerate tells you to. Yet still I’m reluctant to spill the fashion beans.

Individual fashion is about mystery – you want people to ask the all-time covetous question “where did you get that?”. If it’s a bargain/epic find from a usually conformist store you’re likely to tell them straight away – boast about your marvellous find and point them in the right direction to get one for themselves. (Confident in the knowledge that most people wouldn’t go and buy the same thing.) But if the shop itself is the rare find, chances are that person will investigate and possibly find their own piece of fashion heaven in what you now feel is exclusively your store. This is when I get vague. Even more so to people who I know will appreciate it.

If you read fashion blogs/magazines etc, think about Dita Von Teese. Queen of the vintage dress. I’ve read a few quotes from her about her fashion sense and they often say something like “you won’t catch me wearing jeans... I feel much more comfortable slipping into one of my vintage dresses.” I’m sure no one would ever try and imitate her style without looking like they’re doing just that – yet she gives nothing away. (Meanwhile, where did Ashlee Simpson get her Kentucky Derby outfit from? I've never seen her look so vintage/cute, but me likey very much.)

There’s a vintage/retro clothing website which I frequent. If asked where an item came from I refer to it as “this American website – it has amazing retro clothing and...” hedge for my life away from the details. It is the best thing on the web I have discovered since Go Fug Yourself (possibly the funniest fashion blog ever) and despite being in American dollars, it’s pretty reasonable in terms of getting something that you know no one else is going to have. Even after shopping in a different country (albeit a close one) I came back to work to find that my colleague – one of three other people I sit in an office with – had bought two of the exact same items I came back with while she was doing her own intrepid shopping journey! For goodness sakes!

Am I crazy selfish, or justified in guarding my fashion identity? Do you have clothes that give you the secret smile and sealed lips?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Unworking it

NEWSFLASH: Following on from Hazel’s Work It speel, today I witnessed a truly horrid sight – a woman ACTUALLY wearing over the knee boots. And to top it all off she was wearing a rather short skirt. Hazel suggested I yell out ‘skank’ but well I was walking right behind her. She couldn’t even move properly, clod hopping up the hill like a child throwing a tantrum.

I know she was going to work because she went into the Dominion Post building. I’m sorry lady, but that is NOT how you work it!!!

That is all.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fashion on the box

Six months ago, when  people asked me if I watched Gossip Girl, I gave them a blank look and shrugged my shoulders. Rather unusual for me, the girl who can spend days watching marathons of The Hills, The OC or Gilmore Girls. Somehow this portion of girly drama slipped from my radar.

That was until my dear friend lent me her Season 1 DVD set. Within 2 episodes I was lost in the glorious world of the Upper East Siders and most importantly, their seemingly neverending wardrobes.

Never before have I been so envious of the clothes seen on screen. Forget the fact that these kids are supposedly in school and underage - I WANT IN ON THE ACTION. Ok so maybe clopping around school in 3 inch heels is not my idea of a picnic but boy do those girls look fashionable. Blair Waldorf in her preppy, upper class ensembles and to-die-for shiny locks; Serena Van Whatsernamenow in her laid back leather jackets and tousled blonde hair; Jenny Humphrey in her rocker style minis. Call me lame but these lasses have become a bit of an influence on my wardrobe of late.

Number one item from the elite side of New York fashion to make its way into my wardrobe is the coloured stocking. OK, so Hazel busted this one out long before I saw it on the box, but seeing the gorgeous bright legs on those gals - how could I resist? Not so brave yet as to don the canary yellow or ruby red, but I'm pleased to say that purple, grey, AND the houndstooth are now regulars in my work outfits, along with an increasing collection of patterns. Take that, solid black!

Also in the list is the cute, Blair Waldorf cardigan. Maybe the ones I picked up in Melbourne are not quite as sophisticated (and definitely not of the same pedigree) but I'm quite pleased with the splash of 'cute' they add. The details make them - whether they be little white bows or subtle military style trimmings, polka dots or mini pockets, its nice to own something a little more special than your stock-standard Glassons cardi.  

While I will never be wealthy enough (damn lack of Trust Fund) to partake in the kinds of shopping sprees these girls do, its nice to have something to keep an eye out for in the shops. (Next on my hit list is a colourful winter trench coat)  You may laugh but there are entire websites dedicated to the couture of this teen hit show. 

I'm just not looking forward to the day I run out of Gossip Girl and have to revert back to taking fashion tips from the Simpsons. Orange dress and spiky hair anyone??


work it!

I was once opined at, while getting ready for work, that it was not appropriate for work colleagues to be able to see the shape of my behind. Perhaps if my skirt had been shorter or the top half tighter I might have agreed. But plenty of work skirts, particularly the high-waisted ones of today (and fashions before), are fitting to the bum – slimline. That’s what they look like. That’s the fashion. Opinion wronged.
That person having not worked in an office (... ever?) I’m not totally surprised by the expectation. However it made me think about what is appropriate for work. There are some outfits that could be for ok for the professional environment or outside 9–5, but where do you draw the line?

I wouldn’t call it anything worn above the knees – there’s a certain height above the knees where the categories change – I think it has to be at the wearers discretion, as long as you are capable of making a competent decision about what to wear.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m dubious about shorts and stockings. I have done it since writing that post, but I wouldn’t do it if I knew I had to go down and talk to the boss that day. One time I omitted the tights (it was hot, the shorts were long(er than usual) and we were on a course that day) and my friend said as I walked in that morning “hey sexy legs”. It did not give me confidence in my choice and I wouldn’t do it again. It may have been the shorts + heels combo that tipped it off. Admittedly, I do have very sexy legs, even more so in heels, so she was just stating the obvious; but perhaps it’s not the asset to be highlighted at work. For that I have a brain. With a very modest sense of self, as you can tell...

I find the line is particularly grey on Fridays. I want to wear something that will suffice for after-work excursions if I decide to go out. We aren’t supposed to wear jeans at my work, although it has been done in the past, so my options are more limited. It’s a skirt and top combo, or a dress – but not often – which makes the grade.

As with anything, it’s about how you wear combinations of clothing. With the tight form-fitting skirt I would never wear something on top which was tight or showing cleavage. One asset at a time. My rule is always tight on bottom, loose on top, (and vice versa,) whether it be jeans, skirts or trackies around home. One end must complement the other. If you’re showing a bit of boob, be modest about the amount of leg on display. If people are talking to your chest or women are sniggering as you walk past, rethink your outfit choice.

Women are the greatest gauge for acceptability when it comes to clothing. Female colleagues will always tell you if they think you look nice or your outfit is good. They might not tell you outright (unless they are very good friends) if you’re looking a bit too good for the office, but you might overhear them telling someone else. When I first started working in an office my manager once said to me, “you’re looking very summery today”. I took that as a polite, but covertly vicious, way of telling me I had made an inappropriate choice for work – and I never made the same mistake again.