Just my cup of t

The humble t-shirt...all too often poor quality, both in fabric and pattern. Which is why I've always been a fan of Uniqlo's shirts. They're inexpensive, good quality, with designs that are more artistic than banal.

Now Uniqlo offers us all the chance to be a designer. Through September 20th, visit their site to submit your designs. Up to ten submissions per person and everyone can enter (none of those pesky limitations due to age or country of residence that you find with some competitions).

As inspiration, here are the winning designs from the last three years. Good luck!


Nights in White Satin

Well, taupe actually...but no one wrote a song about taupe satin so we'll claim a little color blindness, shall we? Especially when faced with this kind of inspiration, courtesy of the facehunter. The juxtaposition between the casual plaid and the dressier satin is perfect...the tomboy shall go to the ball!


A cautionary tale...

A few days ago I saw Made Her Think's stud jewelry on Style Bubble and went to their website to see what else they had. While I was browsing I came across this winged bolo necklace. Now, I've been looking for a gold necklace for a while now and thought this might work in a Jalouse magazine kind of way if I paired it with a grey t-shirt or plaid button-down shirt. All well and good so far.

I then made the mistake of showing a picture of the necklace to Mr. Heb, at which point he looked at me and said, "It's kind of...tacky, isn't it? The sort of thing a pimp would give to his ho".

Now, if I'd already bought the necklace and had it in my hot little hands I'd take that kind of comment with a pinch of salt. But for some reason, as the remark was made pre-purchase, it's hanging over me like some ghastly harbinger of doom. Sad and pathetic though it may be the necklace is tainted and I can't bring myself to buy it.


Miss Scarlett...in the library...with a piece of lead pipe

While the images for Built by Wendy's Fall/Winter collection are vaguely reminiscent of the preppy paradise found in Kate Spade's ads there's a slightly sinister undertone... Was the butler bludgeoned with a copy of DeBrett's and left in the pool cabana? Has Aunt Matilda passed out and fallen face first into the pheasant vol-au-vents...thereby confirming that the clams weren't the only things getting baked last summer? Will the rumors of Buffy's Percodin addiction finally be laid to rest now that she no longer rattles when she uses the trampoline?

Regardless of...or perhaps I should say because of...the imagery on the site I would quite happily add most of these clothes to my wardrobe. A comforting thought (for my checkbook) is that their Two Tone Swing Jacket bears a striking resemblance to a marled tweed and velvet jacket that I got at Nicole Farhi earlier this year. One piece down...about 40 or so to go...somebody pass me a martini shaker, a polo mallet, and some strychnine.


Tag...I'm it!

What a lovely surprise...I logged in during lunch and discovered that Disney Roller Girl had tagged me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger...which is incredibly flattering as her blog is such a wonderful read.

Of course, this brings me to the question...which five blogs do I want to "put a hit" on? Let me see...

I'm going to assume that Susie Bubble and their majesties at Kingdom of Style have been tagged frequently before now so I will send them fond greetings in lieu of another tag.

Which brings me to my five R.G.B.'s (in no particular order)...

garance doré - for creating drawings whose character's clothing makes me drool with lust

Le Portillon - because the items you covet and your reference points are so spot-on it hurts

too fat for fashion - because you illustrate beautifully that style is a state of mind, not a clothing size

Liberty London Girl - because I find your posts fascinating...and no one else covers urban wellie wearing quite the way you do

The Vintage Society - because as Captain Sensible sang, "You've got to have a dream...if you don't have a dream...how you gonna have a dream come true?"


The (In) Conspicuous Consumer

Two articles that I came across recently have combined to give me a slightly...uneasy...feeling.

Number one, Almost Girl's suggestion to create a list of every item of clothing you own (along with the retail price and the price paid) on an Excel spreadsheet. The goal at the end of the exercise...to find the gaps in your closet (and presumably get a depressing idea of how much money is sitting on those hangers...as Carrie Bradshaw said, "I like my money where I can see it, in my closet").

Number two, an article from the New York Times Style Magazine illustrating the joys that could come into our lives (in the form of new kitchens, public school for any children we may have, or nine years in a private nursing home) if we resist the urge to buy a J. Mendel sable every month, a Marc Jacobs bag, or a Cartier watch.

Now, as a carpe diem kind of girl, this kind of thinking makes me (as previously mentioned) a little uneasy. I like the idea of making a list of all of my clothes...actually, a photo database would be ideal...but adding the prices I paid seems needlessly depressing. For every bargain there's going to be something that I spent too much money on and didn't wear often enough. Seeing that fact in black and white isn't going to make anybody feel good...or cause a sudden epiphany so that I see the error of my ways.

The secondary consideration, that a life of frugal fashion purchases will allow me the senior care of my dreams. Granted, I may live to be a hundred and four but I could also be run over my a bus tomorrow. Clothes provide me with joy on a daily basis, how do you measure that against something that may happen thirty years in the future?

Plus, there's always the idea that, when I'm old and grey, I'll be able to sell my vintage Chanel and Moschino for vast amounts of money...thereby getting the best of both worlds.


This is the end...

It's officially the end of the world...the four horsemen are in sight...and do you know what they're wearing? Crocs' clothing.

Yes, the manufacturer of possibly the ugliest footwear ever created is moving onto clothing. Soon you'll be able to buy shirts, shorts, and skirts containing the same spongy foam resin that they use to create their shoes. Once blended with natural fibers, the clothes will be breathable, "sweat-resistant", and (as a spokesperson is quoted as saying the fabric will have "all the properties of the shoes") presumably very ugly.

Men's and children's clothing will be on sale this October in the US, womenswear will follow next year. To once again quote the unnamed spokesperson, "Men's and children's clothes are a bit less complicated. Waiting until 2008 allows us to take time over our women's fashion range."

Quite frankly, the mind boggles...


The games people play...

It's probably a sign of some terrible regression into childhood...my puzzle fixation, that is. My latest find is located on Visionaire's website. Issue 51 of the magazine, entitled Harmony, is comprised of six large-scale puzzles with images from leading artists...all beautifully packaged in a black or silver cube.

The best part is that you can "experience Harmony" online as all six jigsaws are available virtually. I mean to say...don't we all need a little Harmony in our lives?


Small is beautiful

As far as I'm concerned, big bags will never lose their allure...they're a kind of adult safety blanket...giving us the ability to carry numerous things that we "may" potentially need during the day. In my case this mainly includes items to alleviate boredom, so I'll frequently lug around a book, magazine, iPod, digital camera, and notebook (along with everything else of course).

The fact that my commute is only about an hour each way and I could probably get by (if I didn't carry any of my entertainment ephemera) by looking out of the window or making up responses to the one-sided telephone conversations that I overhear doesn't stop me.

I am, however, being drawn towards small, cross-body bags at the moment. The joy that I'm getting from just carrying the essentials is really quite pathetic. And so, my vintage Mulberry has been resurrected and is making frequent appearances...but that has just whetted my appetite...now I want more.

Loeffler Randall's ruffled disco bag is one possible option...it's available in black or brown...has a sparkly gold lining...and is on sale (always a bonus). If I wanted to go a bit more luxe (and could get it with a slightly longer strap) I'd opt for John Galliano's mis-shaped python number...depending to how I look at it, it's either a squashed fly, an internal organ, or a fashion-based Rorschach test...an interesting juxtaposition between shape and fabric.


le Rock and Roll

Now this is a perfect example of what to wear for a day listening to bands...comfortable, but cute. For more pictures of fashionable festival-goers, check out Café Mode's coverage of the Rock en Seine music festival just ouside Paris.


Mind the Gap

Well, it appears that the fashion Gods heard my whining regarding the disparity between US Gap (dull as ditchwater) and UK Gap (more "trend" pieces) as the Gap has added some "European Collection" clothes to its US website. Not the jodphurs which have been getting such rave reviews...or anything overly interesting...but, it's a start.

Their two-way zip sweater jacket is a discount version of the Chloe zip cardigan that I had my eye on a while ago. Not an exact replica, you understand, but definite similarities. I still prefer the Chloe though so, for the time being, I'll take a pass on what's on offer and wait for future shipments from across the pond. Now, if only Urban Outfitters would follow their lead and ship over a few of their European items...


Come on baby, light my fire...

Sunday, a day for watching old movies. You know the kind...film noir...where the women are called dames and spend the entire time smoking like a chimney and looking smolderingly seductive. The men (either private detectives, hoods, or marks) spend a lot of time proffering cigarette cases to the aforementioned femme fatales.

The reason I am on this tangent...apart from watching too many old films ( Rififi, Bob le flambeur, and Ascenseur pour l'échafaud amongst others)...is I came across this iPod case from Want. All of the vintage glamour and allure, none of the nicotine...parfait.


To dye for?

If, like me, you shudder when you hear the words "tie" and "dye" in combination fear not. This scarf from Topshop manages to do tie-dye in a chic, graphic way...free from any of the usual high school project/hippie connotations.


Barometric Pressure

And after the H&M glory comes a little H&M gripe...

While I was in the store I picked up a copy of H&M's magazine. All well and good...until I got to page 13...and a paragraph entitled "Fashion Amateurs".

Now, personally, I think there are quite a lot of well-written, intelligent, thought-provoking blogs out there. The photography may not always be the best (my previous post proves that) but, then again, we're not generally professional photographers. But blogs do provide legitimate fashion commentary and, let's face it, are probably bringing stores like H&M some business...

What I'm trying to say is...can't we all just play nicely, kids?


Retail Therapy

Well, what was formerly known as coat closet #2 and is now working under the nom-de-guerre of "our own little Niagara Falls" has temporarily dried up. In this calm before the storm (now, there's a kiss of death statement) I decided to do a post.

Thursday, pre-flood, I'd gone on a jaunt to H&M.

A little backstory...I have been visiting Net-a-Porter with a certain frequently recently to cast covetous glances at See by Chloe's leather bomber jacket, as shown in the picture on the right. It's probably a sign that I've been watching too much 70's television but it appealed to me. However, $1,200 for something that has a definite thrift-store vibe is not even vaguely fiscally responsible.

Fast-forward to Thursday. As I wandered around H&M I found the jacket below. Now, it's not leather...to be honest, it's probably not even pleather...and, considering the recent debacle with toys from China being recalled due to high lead levels, I'm probably in danger of lead poisoning. But...I like it. I also like the chambray skirt that I picked up at the same time. Which has, once again, a slight 70's feel.

As I said, I'm watching too many re-runs...


Game called due to rain...

I just wanted to let you know that my posts may be a little curtailed for the next few days. Yesterday we were hit by a sizable storm (50-80 mph wind gusts and torrential rain) which caused some rain damage. Luckily no clothes were hit by the maelstrom but one of our closets took the brunt and isn't looking too good. And, with more rain on the way, we have some cleaning (and mopping up) to do.

So there'll be a slight drought in the way of posts...though not of precipitation...but there is quite a good sized archive section if you want to check it out. Unless you were saving it for a rainy day that is...


It's beginning to look a lot like...August?

I think that a new record has been set...when I opened my mailbox this morning I was greeted by snowflakes. Now, I love winter, Christmas, and all things related to "the festive season" as much as the next girl but...isn't this getting to the point where it's so early it's ridiculous?

The snowflakes themselves, made of lipsticks, are cute...and I'm never one to turn down free shipping...but, this just seems wrong.

However, in the "spirit of the season"...if you're a fellow shu uemura fan, and fancy some festive free shipping, enter "HOLIDAY6" at checkout.

Ho, ho, ho!


Inflatation Frustration vs Conjunction Junction

If you’re even a mildly frequent reader of this blog you will know one thing with certainty...and that is that I have “handbag issues”. Yes, that strange but relatively common infliction where bags are taking up a good 30% of my closet...and probably my income. Not just expensive bags either...$5 book-bags are cheek-by-jowl with Prada...thrift-store finds rub shoulders with Marc Jacobs...we’re just one big happy family.

To alleviate guilt, I gain some comfort in the fact that I do get use out of my bags, as opposed to the things that I buy and then never seem to wear. I consider the bag to be part of the outfit and generally use a different one each day.

For as long as I can remember, my holy grail of bag desire has revolved around two names...Hermes and Chanel. Actually I vacillate over the Chanel...in pictures, I love them...in real life, I’m strangely under-whelmed...they’re nice but not awe inspiring. This, as it turns out, is extremely lucky because rumor has it that yet another price hike will be taking effect at Chanel sometime before November. A whopping 22% rise in fact. If this is true it means that the cost of a medium classic flap will have risen 52.6% during 2007...from $1,595 to $2434.

Now, I know the exchange rate is terrible...and I acknowledge that the cost of the materials has probably risen too (have you seen the price of gold chains recently?)...but doesn’t this seem a tad greedy?


It was written in the stars...

Apologies...for two t-shirt related posts in one week. Isn't it odd? I think nothing of numerous posts during any given week on bags or jewelry but mention t-shirts and I come over all apologetic. Ah well...

The object of my affection this time is Sonia Rykiel's star print shirt. This is the kind of dress-y t-shirt that I love...it's the Dolly-Parton-9-to-5 of t-shirts. The "I work in an office but I'm going to have something fun under this blazer/cardigan" t-shirt. The "yes, $70 is a lot but divide that by the number of times you'll wear it and it's really quite reasonable" t-shirt.


Ready, Set, Go!

Let the race begin... Or to quote from the tagline for Refinery29’s latest project, “Six designers. Six studios. One feverish race to fashion week”.

The six designers in question are Alexander Wang, Jeremy Laing, Vena Cava, Rag & Bone, Karen Walker and Ruffian. The series...named “The Countdown” (which, for those of you in the UK may have off-putting, Carol Vorderman connotations)...begins tomorrow and follows them as they prepare for New York fashion week… and culminates in a final wrap-up episode at the end of the week (fashion, not calendar).

As a huge Karen Walker fan…and, to a lesser extent, Alexander Wang and Vena Cava…this is just the soap opera I’ve been waiting for.


Buttons and bows

Even though the overall vibe is a somewhat schizophrenic mix of S&M and Minnie Mouse there's something very appealing about Danish designer Day Birger and Mikkelsen's leather bead and bow necklace.

Of course, in my current DIY-girl mode I'm trying to decide if initial appearances are deceptive or this would be as easy to pay homage to as I think. Only time...and some scraps of leather...will tell. But I'm optimistically hopeful and picturing various feminine black-tie ensembles that could be based around this necklace...or a close approximation thereof.


"There is a thin line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line. " - Oscar Levant

Finally an oasis in the recent streetstyle desert. From The Sartorialist...haunting, disheveled beauty.

The lower portion of the outfit I can take or leave but the combination button-down shirt, fur, and bag (not to mention the hair and stare) are amazing. She looks like she stepped out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.


Paraphernalia (noun)

Paraphernalia - Etymology: Medieval Latin, ultimately from Greek parapherna bride's property beyond her dowry, from para- + phernE dowry, from pherein to bear.

This is a subject that I've avoided posting about for a while, but avoidance can only last so long. Friends had mentioned the budget-friendly finds available on Etsy but had cautioned that it's possible to be overawed by the bargains and overindulge. Keeping their admonishments in mind, the question had always been...do I really need another place to spend money?

Having finally taken the plunge and browsed around the site I can sadly say that yes...yes I do. Within a couple of minutes I had discovered Paraphernalia and their necklaces based upon the type of illustrations you'd come across in 19th century medical dictionaries or antique books on flora and fauna. The necklaces are macabre but alluring...a Victorian addition to otherwise modern outfits.

parrottoothchicken claw


Anchors Aweigh!

Summer's almost over, and I know that I have been complaining about the heat...lack of clothing options...and general July/August angst...more than most. So it's with a certain sense of perversity that I am now writing about this graphic sailboat t-shirt from Urban Outfitters. But how could I resist the naive, paper cut-out quality of the sailboat design?

As a sop to my conscience I'm telling myself to look past the season and consider how cute this would look under a thick, nautical cardigan...or to wear under a pinafore dress, the boat bobbing along the top of the neckline.


“Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting.” - John Russell

A little cooler air and my thoughts turn to...nail polish. For some reason I can only equate painted fingernails with cold weather. In the summer, it feels too cloying and heavy. Anyway...two days with a little chill and I'm trying to ferret out new colors.

If I was going purely by name I'd pick up a bottle of Chanel's "Madness". I mean, it looks like a nice enough color but the best part would definitely be the knowledge that you had "a touch of madness". Visual puns aside though I think I'll try to track down the limited edition bruised navy that Mac will be releasing as part of its Blue Storm collection next week.

Bloodied but not bowed...bruised but not broken. Blue...but in a good way.


The Washerwoman

I've been casting covetous glances at Paris based designer, Ligia Dias', necklaces for a little while now. Her work combines ribbon, pearls, chain, and ebony washers to great effect...but, with prices running around $400, is a little too rich for my blood. This is Dias' first collection (after three years working with Alber Elbaz at Lanvin) and I was interested to learn that it was inspired by the work of Bauhaus artist, Anni Albers.
Dias' ebony washer necklace

Albers was primarily known for her work with textiles but did experiment occasionally with jewelry. For these experimental pieces she took common items like grommets and hairpins and transformed them...the common and mundane, into things of beauty.

Drawn as I was to the more literal quality of Anni Albers' pieces I visited my local hardware store and picked up $2 worth of 3/8" zinc washers. Armed with the washers and some black ribbon I set to work. Fifteen minutes later (most of which was spent trying to figure out how to weave the ribbon so that the washers would line up correctly) and I had my very own washerwoman necklace. One craft project down...about 99 left to go.
Anni Albers, Necklace from hardware, ca. 1940


Quality Street

It's rather depressing but I haven't come across any compelling streetstyle pictures recently. I've been checking all my usual haunts but...nothing that I really found inspiring.

Then I saw this image from the "How We Are" exhibition at the Tate Britain, which is the first major exhibition of photography to be held at the museum and includes the work of well-known photographers alongside images taken for family albums or medical reasons.

"Girl Jiving in Southam Street", taken in 1957. It was the graphic t-shirt under the tweed jacket that initially caught my eye but the effortless hair and strong facial features (unsullied by 5lbs of spackle) held my interest.


It's better with butt-er

Another Saturday, another bizarre article on The Times' website. This time, the compelling subject is...butt facials. Yes, you read correctly butt facials. And this is before breakfast. As if I didn't have enough to worry about with the parts of me that the majority of people see, now I'm supposed to get facials for my derriere?

You know, I'm beginning to think the people at The Times are doing it on purpose...that these articles are just part of one massive joke and they're waiting to see if anyone notices. Who knows? I'm compelled to check every Saturday morning so they're doing something right.


Dress Distress

Just to update from my earlier post. The Mayle dress needed to be a size larger...which is something the store in question did not have. I'd try and track it down online but, to be honest, I'm on the fence. The dress was...nice...but there was none of the rush of excitement that qualifies something as a "must have". Close, but no cigar. So it looks like the Fall dress search continues...


Give me an M...give me an A...

Give me a new dress! After much browsing, both virtually and in stores, I think I may have tracked down my perfect Fall/Winter dress. I say "may" because I won't get to see it in person until later today and, let's face it, whoever said "the camera never lies" was a fibber.

However I'm quietly optimistic that Mayle's calico silk pocket dress is a winner. Laidback...in a kind of dressy, French way...open to multiple layering options...and made from what I can only describe as "sofa fabric" (for some reason I have a soft spot for patterns that could double as house furnishings...odd, but harmless).

Other covetable pieces from Mayle's F/W collection...a black patchwork dress made from a subtle mixture of checks and dots...and an embossed wool jacket with a beautiful sunburst lapel. If only my clothing budget was higher...

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