Archive for the ‘thinking about fashion’ Category
(please excuse the sketch, by the way. garance doré i am not)
I have a very fabulous friend called Kate. She has a mane of dark hair and is amazing at lipstick. She is the first person I saw rock the famous Lady Danger in real life. In fact, she is wearing it in the sketch above.
Now one day I saw Kate wearing the most perfect denim shirt-dress. Soft, soft fabric that draped just so. The perfect faded blue. When I hounded her for details she said she had bought it vintage (the most frustrating of all answers, no?) Truly and verily it was a hero dress, and I vowed to find one just like it.
Two years later and it has proved one of the most frustrating searches of my life. I have found several close-but-no-banana dresses. A chambray one from Workshop (not dressy enough). A pale blue Karen Walker For Swanndri one (pretty, but not denim). A denim Gap one (fabric too stiff, colour too dark). I have tried many on, searched in many boutiques, but no. Denim shirt-dresses seem to come in two varieties: hooch and tent. Neither are for me.
The search will continue. But I have told Kate that if there is ever a break-in at her house and the police find the TV, jewellery and liquor cabinet intact, check the wardrobe ..
well hello there, gentle readers. i sorta took a little break there, didn’t i?
the reason is this:
yes, there has been something of a population explosion here at ninetwelvetwentyfive. in early february i gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl.
what, you mean i didn’t say anything here?
well, there were reasons, i guess. i wasn’t sure that i wanted to be so public about the details of my pregnancy. it also wasn’t a particularly stylish time, let’s say. you northern hemisphere chicas don’t know how good you have it. here in NZ, maternity clothes are either extremely expensive and corporate looking (and i was not about to drop several hundred bucks on something i’d only wear for a couple of months) or super-cheap, probably sweatshopped and reeking of VOCs. there’s not a lot in between, at least, not that i could find. (oh, and proprietors of maternity boutiques should feel free to e-mail me telling me how wrong i am. i’d love to compile a list of sources for other suddenly-fashion-challenged mamas.)
so style blogging became a little tricky for a while. at least for me. others are doing better: the wondrous miz fashionwestie is looking utterly fabulous as she progresses through The Miracle Of Womanhood. i bought a couple of pairs of maternity skinny jeans (irony!) and a really cool wrap dress from womama. apart from that, i lived in tunic dresses, the aforementioned skinnies and high heels. not quiiiite blogworthy.
but now miss L is here, i am back in my normal clothes and it is coming into winter. and all my favourite designers are having really, really strong seasons. ooh yes. while i was pregnant, i had quite a bit of time to think about a new personal approach to style. i’ll talk about that a bit more in an upcoming post.
and then there is this whole new life, this whole new person, to write about. don’t worry, this isn’t going to become a mama-blog. not that there is anything wrong with mama-blogs. but i figure if you want to read about nappies, organic amber teething beads and such, there are lots of women out there writing far better about it than i can.
instead, i may well write about what an awesome person my little girl is and how, despite being unable to talk or even hold her head up unaided, she is my best little buddy. how the rockstar is an amazing daddy and how she gazes at him with her big blue baby eyes. and how she already has an impressive wardrobe of shoes (people call them “booties” but we know better, hehe) and likes it when her mama wears breton stripes. it’s the black and white, apparently. newborns dig monochrome. very directional.
all this to come. for now, i am just easing back into this blogging lark. so, hi there! thank you for still reading! why don’t you leave a comment and tell me what you’ve been up to all this while?
I see fashion as a way to play with your personality, to flirt with a part of yourself. It’s like when you go on a date with someone. You’re excited, you dress up, and you look phenomenal. When you get dressed, you should always be dating someone — even if it’s just yourself.
excellent advice from the fabulous anna dello russo, from her must-read blog ..
so i was invited to attend the launch of the twentysevennames s/s collection. this sounds fancy but it isn’t really; the wonderful goodasgold invited their clients to come along for drinks, cupcakes and pretty summer clothes. seeing as the weather is just about allowing us to think that winter might end — one day, one day — racks of pastel deliciousness were just what was needed. i grabbed a vitamin water and wandered.
there were pretty cupcakes, although i didn’t get a shot of those. they were disappearing pretty quick. fun fact: in new zealand, fashion people actually *eat*. scandal!
but most importantly, the clothes.
(all the above photos by me)
these two photos are from twentysevennames’ lovely website and are my favourite looks of this collection. i totally adore the transparency of that navy blouse .. it looks like a starscape, is diaphanous and glorious to touch and is a perfect alternative if you’re not really feeling the pastel for summer. and the proportions of the parma violet coloured blazer with that white dress and boots — love.
the first, i would happily buy for myself and wear it with cropped khakis and brogues (yes, still). the second look i think might be a little too pale for me — i am dark-haired with a sort of olivey complexion and i’m not sure i can rock that much pale. but you know? this season might be the perfect time to experiment. cast aside the blacks, the neutrals .. after a long wellington winter full of blacks, greys and the occasional bust-out into dark red, maybe a light shade is just what’s needed. like a fresh sour sorbet after a too-heavy main course.
anyway. seeing the collection reminded me of the kind of quirky spin that the best new zealand design is able to put on the overseas trends. yes, pastels are a clear reference to the northern hemisphere summer trends. but these clean lines, the perfect proportions with only the merest hint of boho, make me happy.
pretty people, pretty clothes. thanks, goodasgold and twentysevennames. really lovely stuff.
as evidenced by my possibly-favourite-ever shoe manufacturer, melissa:
detail of the gorgeous box:
i have to say i am not *gagging* for the shoes themselves (although they could look pretty cute with jeans and a simple teeshirt) but the box is utterly precious. as the company themselves says, the total concept of a brand isn’t just restricted to the product itself but to the packaging .. because that’s the first impression a consumer gets of a product’s quality and its essence. i couldn’t agree more.
now, as for a pair of melissas that does make me go “ooh” .. check out these babies, the melissa ocean II (great heel height, right on trend, and i particularly like the bronze/gold combo, perfect for what the rockstar terms the perua rica or rich bitch look):
and then speaking of babies, well. this link may make you die of the cute, i warn you. but if you ever thought that vivienne westwood’s collaboration with melissa couldn’t get any better, it just has: dame viv + melissa for kids. check it. those miniature-sized lady dragons! eeeeee!!
(all images from the lojamelissa blog)
in case you are not a wellingtonian or a new zealander (or, i guess, a rugby fan, tho i’m guessing not many of you who visit here will be) you might not know that once a year wellington hosts the irb rugby sevens tour. the rugby almost seems like an afterthought, though. it’s the party that matters. people dress up in fancy dress, and *boy* do they dress up. a lot of care, imagination and thought goes into the costumes, which are then often trashed by two days and nights of drinking and debauchery. this year norman jay played in courtenay place and he said it was the best street party he’d played since the notting hill carnival.
anyway. i decided it was better to leave my fancy cameras at home this year. but i did manage to snap a few pix of the revellers:
(these guys were dressed like giant crabs. or maybe crayfish. the iphone’s weeny lens couldn’t cope, so it turned out this rather abstract shot instead .. but i still like it.)
(it also didn’t much like the strobe lights at norman jay. but, happy accidents, etc.)
so, fashion report.
the most popular costume: angels/fairies. male and female. actually, probably more male than female. take from that (and new zealand’s oft-quoted maxim of where-men-are-men-and-sheep-are-nervous) what you will.
the best costume: well, my personal favourite were the video-game-inspired groups. people dressed up as tetris shapes. as pac-man plus ghosts. as the mario brothers (there were many, but i never get sick of them).
what i would have gone as, had i been so inclined: a pox on these costumes for women that seem to involve the word “sexy” automatically; sexy nurse, sexy policewoman, sexy traffic warden, sexy rugby ref, etc. i’d personally love to be part of a phalanx of anna wintours. or karl lagerfelds. that would rule.
what i felt was sorely lacking: where were the pregnant schoolgirls? or the local order of the sisters of perpetual indulgence? personally i don’t think any party’s complete without them.
the sevens party is clearly not about fashion in the strict sense. but for two days a year, wellingtonians get to let it all hang out. wear whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous. act however they want, no matter how outrageous. grown men get to embrace each other and grab each other’s bums etc in shows of affection which border on the homoerotic. it’s fantastic. and then, monday morning .. it was as if nothing had happened. the streets were clean, the sunlight was bright, the crowds lurching off to work dressed in black and grey and navy. because, after all, wellington may host a great party .. but at the end, it’s still wellington. and we love her for it.
this video, of the charming and graceful lou doillon modelling the vanessa bruno ss10 collection, has quite made my morning.
i love the black skirt she wears while she’s stamping around in the flour. long and floaty in the front, knee length in the back .. i can see that working great for a windy summer in wellington, moving into autumn with tights and killer boots. hmm .. thinking, thinking ..
kiwi fashionistas take note: glassons‘ annual collection of breast cancer research tees has dropped, and it’s wicked cool. i think my favourites are either the karen walker design on the left (it comes in grey and white too, but i think the black is the most rawk) or the stolen girlfriends club one on the right (the tiny type says “her essence was rare”, which is a nice little nod to the gang of four, i think).
the other shirts feature designs by trelise cooper, cibèle, lonely hearts and zambesi. we’re kind of starved of designer – high street collaborations in new zealand .. so this is a great chance to snap up some kiwi design talent while helping an excellent cause. go get
so i got dressed this morning but haven’t quite had the courage to commit fully to this outfit. i am wearing my wayfauxrers (couldn’t face putting my contacts in), a lazy oaf t-shirt which has “j’aime paris” written on it, a black miniskirt from glassons, grey tights and red russell and bromley brogues. i tucked in my shirt and felt like i was channelling alexa chung, a little bit.
but then i stopped and thought: is this outfit mutton?
mutton is a difficult concept for those of us in the latter half of our thirties and beyond. it basically means that you’re dressed age-inappropriately. i have a dear friend in london whose sister refers to him and his husband affectionately as “les moutons” because they wear north face jackets, worn jeans, trainers. i think my friend looks terrific .. he’s consistently one of the most stylish people i know. but in an era where hipster girlies at mighty mighty wear clothes that my grandmother might have considered too frumpy, where smart teenage boys wear clothes which hark back to music videos made before they were born, where the most stylish women i can instantly name — carine roitfeld, daphne guinness, amanda harlech — are all older than me and still rocking it really hard .. what does age-appropriate even mean?
more fashionable minds than me have considered this question; indeed, it’s a staple of the glossy mag to run “age issues” where they look at style through the lens of those in their 20s, 30s, 40s et cetera et cetera, pass the ambien. the 20s are always represented these days by alice dellal, whose fearless style i admire; the older women, well, it’s the usual array of your helen mirrens, your mary quants, your duchesses of devonshire. all, in their way, fabulous. none, with all respect, that helpful when it comes to interpreting rules for ordinary women.
i used to have quite strict rules about this stuff, purely for myself. no midriff. no short skirts. no upper arms on show. no bikinis outside latin america. oh you know, i was quite the self-editor. but then i realised something. none of this made me feel more confident about the inevitable process of getting older, the unavoidable slide into what is (for women) the uncomfortable invisibility of middle age.
like any person who’s nearly forty, my body is showing the signs of a life well lived. my pale skin shows the tracery of veins beneath. i have scars, laughter lines, freckles (or, as a dermatologist would probably term them, permanent sun damage from living half my life in the southern hemisphere). i fail the pencil test. but you know, i feel better about myself now than i did when i was a skinny, tanned, neurotic little thing of 17. on the whole, my body’s holding up pretty well. what’s disintegrating as we speak is my ability to give a toss what people think. i don’t think i’ll miss it.
as i have grown older, my confidence in my taste has grown. i am not afraid to wear clothes that are a little challenging. that call attention. that the 17 year old me would have rejected as too weird, not attractive to boys. glasses? in public? are you crazy? i squinted for years because i was too shy to wear my corrective lenses outside of darkened lecture theatres. now, i don’t care. maybe boys would think i was a nerd these days. but i’m not interested in those boys now.
so a pox on my rules, such as they were. just as the term “middle aged” loses its meaning as one approaches its ambit, the words “age-appropriate” might need to be banished to the charity shop pile of language.
i’m not saying that there should be a free-for-all. at least, not for me. there are certain things that a woman of my age should avoid, i think. barbie pink. any outfit that would look adorable on my super-gorgeous four-year-old niece evie. any t-shirt with a slogan that says “princess” or some such. egregious embroidery of hearts. cartoon characters, no matter how ironic.
there are some overall styles that don’t work, either. the gothic lolita style, much as i think it’s cute, isn’t for me. if i went for the feral tank-girl look, i would not look sexy; i would look like i need to be put on some kind of watch list. the preppy-princess look so loved by blair waldorf just looks matronly on me; i will never be the kind of girl who can wear a chanel suit, but my credit card will be the better for it. and i think too much skin, in a setting other than the beach, is just a little tacky. if i get my legs out, i cover up the rest.
but you know what, ladies? those are my rules. they’re not necessarily anyone else’s. if barbie pink makes you happy, wear it. if you feel good in cutoff jeans and a midriff top, who cares if you’ll never see 40 again? pair them with a flannel, cowboy boots and a stetson and i think you’d look pretty rocking, to be honest. if you’re wearing dreads and combat boots and it makes you feel cool and powerful, then i bet people turn their heads in the street to check you out. be confident. work it. pick things that suit your body, pick colours that make your skin glow, the rest is up to you.
so, then. i am not sure that i’ve added much to the debate here. but i will walk out into this beautiful summer day in my mini-skirt and brogues, head held high. no mutton today, not here. not ever.