Monday, June 22, 2009

Mod Fashion

advertisement for Mary Quant Cosmetics,

Shopping in June is often tricky. All of the trends for fall have been predicted and premiered on the runways, magazines are pushing suede heels and warm sweaters. Summer months are a great time to explore fashion rebirths--especially looks that will always be hip.
Mod in the 1960s was a lifestyle--culture, art, fashion. Yves Saint Laurent's trapeze dress, Mary Quant's miniskirts (sold on King's Road in Chelsea), Andre Courreges' designs, and Twiggy's iconic androgynous locks.

Mod Closet for Her:
Mini skirts (a-line is common)
boxy cardigans
trapeze jackets
bright colors, dark trim
cigarette pants
shift dresses
black and white stripes
comfortable shapes
baby doll dresses
Zooey Deschanel (she is seen in mod style all the time, but her stewardess uniform from Almost Famous and her style on stage in her band, She & Him, are good examples)

Mod make-up styles for women were very simple. Perhaps just foundation, pale pink lips, and fake eyelashes.
Also, when choosing a trapeze jacket, be wary:
Trapeze jackets add great shape and contrast to a stick-straight dress or pair of cigarette jeans. Make sure your trapeze jacket is fitted around the shoulders--it will provide a sharp contrast from the waistline, which is boxy and short. Also, pick an undershirt that is tight-fitting and long. Your waist should be accentuated by the full, cropped jacket circling around.
Charlotte Ronson New York (Spring 2009) has a collection full of easy, short dresses that hint at mod. Play up looks for an ultimate mod look, or wear them with un-traditional accessories for a modern take. Check out tweeds from Chanel, Alice + Olivia's Tunic Dress, and Eley Kishimoto's super-mod designs. Also, Kate Spade Fall 2009 features silhouettes straight from the 60s, cropped coats, and bowler hats.

Mod Closet for Him:
slim-cut shirts
3-button suits
fitted trousers
Silk pocket squares
dress shoes
vintage knit ties
skinny black ties
messenger bags
quality socks
dressing up
bright colors
Basket-weave shoes

Ben Sherman and Fred Perry make accessible, affordable mod clothing. Ben Sherman's classic shirt details are perfect--center pleat down the back, button-down collar, and reverse collar button, finished with modern details like exposed stitching, additional pockets, or unique patterns.
Also, a huge mod trend for men was the concept of tailoring--customized suits, perfectly fitted dress shirts. Vintage items in smaller, slim-fit designs are readily available at thrift stores and bazaars.

Over-the-top Mod? Mopeds were a huge accessory for the mod crowd. Zip around town in a Vespa or Lambretta (and keep your clothes protected while you're at it).

Summer in Space

photo by Caitlin Donnelly, June 2009

The West 18th Street Fashion Show took place on Saturday, June 5. In order for designers to partake in the show, applicants were required to submit material; the chosen designs were premiered on an outdoor stage located on 18th Street, between Baltimore Street and Wyandotte Street. As I approached the block, hundreds of spectators greeted me. Ushers dressed in all white clothing and pink headbands were busy answering questions and checking the tickets required for the seated VIP section. I nestled myself alongside the roped-off area somewhere near the middle and anxiously waited for the show to begin.

The fashionable 'guide' took the stage a few minutes after 8--at dusk. Admittedly, I had trouble concentrating on the guide's introductory explanation and welcome because I was so distracted by her super-sporty, neon patterned, lace-up heels! (I have been eye-ing a similar pair of pumps designed by Diesel.)

An onslaught of space-age fashion kept the catwalk lively. Models adorned with head-gear-like jewelry, texture-rich jumpsuits, and green body paint were nothing out of the ordinary.

Some of my favorite collections:

Shannon Bailey:
Bailey's designs are feminine and chic, and her tailoring is flattering. She incorporates bold, classic colors--like a cheery yellow with a fresh blue denim, and her color choices are modernized with splashes of metallic. Some of her pieces have a nautical feel. For example, one of my favorites from Bailey was a white and blue patterned dress adorned with an oversized silver bow on one side between the neck and shoulder. The contrasting textures incorporated into her collection, along with the range of dress shapes, also ranked Bailey's clothing up with my favorites.

Julie Potraz and Rebecca Taylor:
This collection was a refreshing interpretation of accessible, urban, modern clothing. Looks included tailored, textured mini-skirts paired with equally textured tops. Geometric patterns were incorporated into the collection (for example, one skirt had blocks of metallic gold and silver). Tulle dresses in a soft lavender colors intermingled with more sculptured, form-fitting apparel. My favorite piece? A gold short-suit with 3 simple buttons down the center. These designs acknowledge the future but don't close the door on right now--the designers created practical shapes and let their color choice, pattern, and attention to detail slowly ease the audience into a temporary comfort zone that prepares them for fashion to come.

Jessy Bergman:
Bergman's featured collection emphasized shape. The designer effortlessly incorporated difficult metallic sheen and interesting texture into many pieces. Sculptural tops and skirts had uniquely placed ruffles and gathers. The clothes had a terrifc balance--volumunous collars matched full hems. And, although I am nervous to take on the recent bare-midriff trend, one model wore a piece stomach-revealing ensemble by Bergman that was sexy, confident, and fun.

Other favorites:
Sara Emami--
Emami's designs emphasized the clothing as a collection. Pleated skirts had volume without being too bulky. Emami's color palette was fresh and her silhouettes crisp.

Joscelyn Himes--
Short metallic dresses were surprisingly sweet. The reflective, edgy colors were transformed by the soft fabrics and beautiful pleats.
A one-shouldered dress was balanced by the volume of gathers on the opposite side.

Their fitted, rainbow body-con dress did it all for me. The technicolor was divine.

For more information regarding this show, links to designer profiles, photos, and more, visit

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Out with the old (sort of)

distressed denim by Diesel, 2009

If you are trying to stretch your summer wardrobe, keep up on new trend ideas, and save a few bucks, turning your old clothing into something new, wearable, and stylish is essential. Read on for a few ideas that make styling your old wardrobe more fun than wearing a brand new outfit!

Sporty Trend:
If you have a collection of old sport t-shirts from years past, break them out! I know my mother has saved everything--I mean everything--from my youth and even my older brothers' youth. Although I have previously complained about her pack-rat like habits, now I am thankful. I have soccer t-shirts, football jerseys, wind pants, and hoodies in all sizes and colors--enough to dress an entire little-league team! If you don't have any old t-shirts, sweatshirts, or jerseys available, such items are easy to find and cheap to purchase at thrift stores and garage sales. Look in the classifieds for yard sales advertising kids' clothes if you want to find a smaller, youth size for a fitted look. If the t-shirt has a shape you like, leave it alone; if not, cut your t-shirt into a racer-back tank top. Snip the sleeves off your hooded sweatshirt, and turn it inside out for a worn-out, comfortable, textured look. Windbreakers can also be converted into sleeveless vests, and wind-pants can be cut into pedal-pushers or short-shorts.
To style your sports-wear is a different act entirely. Contrast your casual, old sport tops and bottoms with more expensive, dressy materials. For example, wear a racer-back t-shirt with pleated or ruffly skirts, striped tube-socks, and high heels. Wear wind-pant shorts with a sheer top, metallic blouse, or sequined blouse.
Watch out though, this home-made sporty look is more appropriate for the under-30 crowd.
Above 30? Achieve a sporty look by wearing low-key cotton polo dresses, striped tank tops, and bright colored pumps.

Distressed Denim:
I have previously written about distressed denim and the pros and cons of this trend. I think distressed denim can be a fun look when it is dressed up with high-heels and blouses or paired with metallic and black for a rocker look.
Basically, why buy distressed jeans? Most people have an old pair of worn-out blue-jeans that are sitting in the back of their closet. Even if you work to distress your jeans and hate the final outcome, no biggie--they were just sitting there anyway! So, get creative with your old jeans!
1. Use heavy-duty sand paper to rub the thighs and knees for a worn-out, faded look.
2. Bunch, twist, and rubber-band your jeans in areas you want to lighten or pattern. Pour bleach on the areas until you have the color you like best.
3. Cut slits or holes with scissors. Pull out the tightly woven fabric to create a stringy fringe.
4. Be creative--paint splotches, charcoal stains, patches, gold spray-paint--whatever. Personalize your jeans.

Combination Jewelry:
I recently read about a fabulous necklace idea and have not been able to stop trying it out! If you are getting sick of your jewelry or simply want to mix up your look, try pinning together two separate necklaces with a broach. If you find the right combination, your old necklaces truly look like an entirely new piece.

Summer Nights--Black turned Bright:
If you are like me, you own more than one black dress. I always feel so somber wearing black during warm, summer days; however, black dresses are easily brightened, making the color completely appropriate for summertime. For example, brighten a short-sleeve black dress by replacing it's built-in black sash with your own, bright scarf or bold belt. Also accessorize with colorful bangles, long necklaces, a stand-out neon clutch, and eye-catching flats or pumps. Instantly your black dress is transformed into the perfect summer canvas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Nude

Hermes, 2009

Nude is this summer's hottest neutral. After wearing shades of black and grey all winter, this natural hue is refreshing. Just as a classic timelessness is achieved by dressing in black, dressing in shades of nude will always be in style. Nude clothing pieces are a definite closet staple.

The Naked Truth:
Because nude is so close to many skin-tones, the shapes and details comprising these garments are important. Avoid wearing close-fitting, tight pieces--from afar you really will appear naked! If you do choose something fitted--like a pencil-skirt or tank-top--be sure to balance your outfit; loose, flowy fabrics compliment more structured clothing and define your waistline by creating a clean, contrasting horizontal line. Look for nude trousers and tops that have unique tailoring or added embellishments, too. Pleats, ruffles, excentuated shoulders, unique stitching, or a subtle shimmer will all benefit your nudes. The color is so organic; extra design elements may seem unnoticable but will be intriguing and stand out when you take a closer look.

Styling in the Nude:
Nervous about washing yourself out? Try mixing different nude shades--tans, light browns, and cafe au laits are darker than a pale nude and will provide a confident dose of color.
With such an airy outfit, bulky jewelry mixes up the look. To maintain a chic, outfit all over, pick a shimmery grey, subdued yellow, or dusty rose accessory--add in a neutral tan pump to complete your look and elongate your legs. If you have a difficult time working inside such an earthy color palate--adding a bright, spring scarf or eye-catching pump is one solution. Also, more subtle colors--metalics and apricots are sultry accents to nude clothing pieces.
Finally, apply an illuminating lotion to your arms and legs and a soft bronzer to your cheeks to achieve a healthy glow that surely won't blend in with your nude apparel regardless of your skintone.

Check out the Nude Trend on the Runways:
Calvin Klein Spring 2009 Ready to Wear
Narscisco Rodriguez Spring 2009 Ready to Wear
Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, and Chloe also have fabulous designs in a variety of nudes.