Monday, September 27, 2010

You Say Gah-Men, I Say Gah-Mean, My Closet Says To Call the Whole Thing Off

The problem with bright ideas is that they’re all very well and good so long as someone else implements them. Like, when Pirate originally suggested we jump ourselves out of our day-to-day wardrobe grooves, I was all, “Cool! Change is good!”

But when she suggested I tackle 'Gamine,' my bubble burst and I was all, “Huh? Gam-what now?” Because there’s little in my wardrobe that suggests, "An intercontinental mix of clean American lines and French insouciance," and a whole lot that yells instead, “Hey, Moi! Christine McVie called and she wants her wardrobe back and then Chrissie Hynde is coming over to reclaim all her blazers, leggings, and boots.”

Yes, that's the line my style straddles 99.9612 percent of the time. The rest of the time, I'm either in running clothes or sleeping.

So, in retaliation, I assigned Pirate boho because I knew, just knew, there wasn’t a single piece of gold dust woman or stairway to heaven or dog and butterfly in her entire wardrobe. And then I said, “Okay, you go first.” (Pirate Note: AHA!! I knew it!)

Because I needed time to think. And, Google. Which, it turns out, at least turned up one lucky point of commonality between me and gamine: While researching pictures of all those 1950s, early 1960s silver screen gamines like Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Shirley MacLaine and Leslie Caron, I suddenly realized that although I don’t have their wardrobe, what do you know; I definitely have their hair cuts. In fact, currently, Miss Jean Seberg (shown above) and I are haircut twins.

Well, it's a place to start, right?

As a point of reference, an everyday gamine look:

And gamine taken to the nth degree of high fashion, by no less than Vera Wang herself:

Key pieces include stovepipe pants/jeans, pedal pushers, striped sailor shirts, pea coats, trench coats, wide legged trousers, sweet blouses and tees, swing and chunky cardigans, dirndl-type skirts, baby doll dresses, and cropped, swing, double breasted, and smocked jackets. (Now, wouldn't you know: I have just about every kind of jacket in my closet imaginable except cropped, swing or smocked. The only one that came close I think I gave to Pirate). As for shoes, gamine footwear is, by and large, either wedged or flat.

With all that in mind, here's what I came up with, given the limited items in my closet, and with serious, serious apologies for the crap ass photos. We are working on that as we speak . . .

LL Bean stripey top, Gap jeans, Michelle K. flats (yes, I actually own a pair of shoes without any heel whatsoever).

I'm not sure why I own a trench, actually. I think I bought it on sale at Banana Republic a couple years ago when I was headed to Asheville, NC for an assignment. In January.

Cynthia Steffe skirt, Vince cardigan, Target camisole, Banana Republic shoes.

Although I think this hits some gamine notes, it is way too girly a look for me. Usually, I'd pair the skirt with textured hose, tissue turtleneck, and boots. The cardigan with skinny jeans, animal print peep toes, and a biker jacket.

Comfy USA tunic, Target leggings, BCBG boots, heirloom locket.

This is more in line with my comfort zone, probably because it flirts with the edge of rock and roll.

Trina Turk tie neck silk blouse, BCBG black cardigan, Seven jeans, Kensie shoes.

I'm okay with this look, too, although, I know, I know; my mother is looking down from heaven and choking on her martini out of horror that I haven't ironed those pants . . .

A closer look at the shoes. These scream gamine to me. Which makes sense because I think I've had them since I was twelve.

And that, folks, is that.

I could play around some more, I'm sure, but you know what? I don't really think gamine is a style that suits my temperament all that much. Plus, once a gal edges over 40? Her style should become much less sweet.

Up next: Pirate does Euro Chic. That's euro-Sheek, not euro-chick.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bitches Throwdown: Pirate Does Boho

Fleetwood Mac: the quintessential boho band, famous both for their style and their substance.

According to Wikipedia, Bohemianism has its roots in gypsy culture. The bohemians were artistic free spirits: writers, musicians, artists. Hippies. As a fashion style, Bohemian is what you would call the look worn by Stevie Nicks, or Joan Baez, or Jane Birkin. These are people that some of our readers will no doubt never have heard of, but trust me when I say they were ├╝ber cool way-back-when.

Even though the style icons for boho were in their heyday at least 20 years ago, the look has never really completely disappeared from the sartorial scene. In fact, every year designers tackle the trend in a fresh new way.

Gucci was just one of many designers who reinterpreted the boho trend a few winters back.

Looking through the Lucky Style book, the essential pieces include boot cut trousers, peasant blouses, flowy tunics, vests, and floaty dresses. Pieces such as vintage denim jeans with boot cut legs and wrap sweaters can be paired with salvaged army jackets and wedge heels. The jewelry is usually gold-toned and organic, often with an ethnic look. Prints are ethnic and colorful. The ultimate chic pieces back in the day might have included a white, gauzy tunic, or a crocheted slip dress. Or a crocheted bikini.

Yeah, Bohemian is about as far away from my day-to-day look as I could be asked to get. My initial survey through my closet found no floaty anything. Fitted, I got. Modern I got. Peasant blouses? Tunics? Not a one. And I have absolutely zero earrings made from feathers.

So, I re-channeled my efforts. On Moi's suggestion, I hummed some Stevie Nicks and asked myself, what would happen if Janis Joplin came back from the dead and invaded my closet? What would she pick to wear from my wardrobe, and how would she wear it?

Outfit attempt number one emerged:

BCBG Wrap Sweater, black camisole, leaf-print scarf, boot-cut fitted khaki trousers, BCBG leather and chain t-strap heels.

In theory, all the elements are here—I have some leather, I have boot-cut, I have some organic print thing. I have a wrap sweater. Sadly, it's just a little too modern in cut—the wrap sweater is too short. Iconic boho wrap sweaters are all-engulfing, like something you could sleep in whilst living out of your car, or something you could hide a friend in, should you need to sneak a buddy in to a concert. Unfortunately, the colors in my outfit aren't ethnic enough. And none of it smells like patchouli.

Back I dive into my closet.

My inner Stevie Nicks takes over: Stand back! I need a little sympathy . . . stand back! and outfit option 2 comes out of the closet:

Vintage boot-cut Lucky denim jeans, Moschino floaty print top, army-style Mossimo khaki jacket, BCBG leather and chain t-strap heels.

My girls look confused: why is mommy putting all her clothes on the floor?

This outfit is a little better—it's part army surplus and part rebel. It's not quite right though. The khaki in my floaty top actually matches the khaki jacket. I'm getting the idea from the look in the Lucky guide that the colors in the look are normally earth tones, and any matching is usually an accident. This outfit looks too good—it looks matchy-matchy—and that's just not done!

Back to the closet with Stevie: Give to me your leather, take from me my lace . . .

Floaty orange/coral Banana Republic dress, brown floaty scarf, BCBG leather and chain heels

My girls are now helping, but since they're too young to know what "hippie" means, they're shooting in the dark.

Option 3 has got floaty and it's got color. It's a solid color, however—no ethnic print. Perhaps if I douse the whole thing in bong-water it might work, but as it is, it's a little too clean.

My inner Stevie wasn't really pulling together anything quite right, so I channeled some inner Janis Joplin. Here is what I actually wore. Yes, outside and in public:

Oh lord, won't you buy me a color TV . . .

Jeans: Lucky vintage boot cut, which I tripped on all day long. Thin and soft, these jeans are tightly fitted and ride low through the hips, flaring wide from the knee, and 100 percent Bohemian. I never knew how perfectly hippie they were until I wore them this way.

Top: Silk BCBG camisole lurking in the shadows of my closet. The lavender silk is a little bit modern in color, but makes up for it with an empire waist, a very boho cut.

Vest: Black velvet military vest from the Gap. The most perfectest boho accessory in my closet, this velvety piece would probably also work great with a peasant blouse, if I owned such a thing.

Shoes: Cow-print t-strap flat sandals, Steve Madden. I forgot just how popular this style of sandal was back in the day: All the good earth children had t-strap sandals straight from India, to wear with their peasant skirts and tunic tops.

Jewelry: Giant beaded boho earrings gifted from Moi herself, gold tone locket, and a big silver cuff stolen from my own mother from back in her hippie days—an authentic piece of hippi-nalia!

Did I feel like I was in costume? Yes, a little. But no one asked any awkward questions, since these were all clearly my own clothes. Plus, it was only one day, so not a big deal. Not once was I asked where the Phish concert was.

Going into my own closet with a fresh pair of eyes (WWSND?) was a very refreshing experience. It was fun to pair things in a way I hadn't thought of before, and trying on a look I hadn't done. Am I now a boho expert? Not really. I do have a certain lack of Bohemian gear in my closet. But I do have a fresh appreciation for floaty peasant blouses and tunics.

Will I start dressing boho every day? Probably not—but I got real value out of seeing my wardrobe through someone else's eyes. That Stevie Nicks does have a good sense for a feminine look.

Next up: Moi does Gamine, and we discuss the pronunciation of this French word. Is it Gah-Mean? Gay-Mine? Gammon? This and other questions answered in the Bitches next post.

Monday, September 13, 2010

bitches throw down

Ever seen someone who has never really broken out of their 70's vibe and still likes the polyester pantsuits? Do you have a girlfriend who can't be talked out of her mom jeans? We Bitches have a theory about a person's fashion compass:

Without motivation, a person's fashion personality does not change much over time.

In physics terms, you could say that a wardrobe at rest tends to stay at rest. While an aging disco queen at the grocery store is perhaps an extreme example, we think that most people find their favorite style models when they are young and have kept them alive in some form, since then. As someone who is guilty of having plenty of fashion throwback tendencies, my personal theory is that my parents and the peers of my youth were my harshest critics. The crowd I ran with schooled me at a young and malleable age (sometimes not in the nicest way) on what was and was not acceptable, and what did and did not look good on me. This early critique became part of my social DNA and has stayed with me to this day. . . which is probably why I still gravitate to wanting to wear safety pins in my ears with my shredded jeans.

This presents a problem, since even L.L. Bean eventually updates their khakis: how do you keep from being, in fashion-terms, that old guy with the comb-over who refuses to change? More importantly, how do you take on a new look or new ideas without buying an entirely new wardrobe?

We bitches decided to take this on and stretch—to break out of our fashion molds and see if it's possible to do new things and make change fun and painless. Most importantly, we took this on with the goal of not spending any extra money.

For our fashion throw-down, we used the extremely helpful Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style - how to wear iconic looks and make them your own. This awesome little tome identifies 10 completely different iconic looks and the essential pieces that one would need to pull them off.

To kick it off, we picked two looks that neither of us normally wear or are particularly comfortable with and assigned them to each other:

Moi gets to try on Gamine,

Audrey Tatou and Audrey Hepburn are the best known Gamine icons. I know - they're totally adorable, right?

Jean Shrimpton is also a Gamine Icon. Naughty elf indeed!

and Pirate gets to test drive Bohemian.

Sigh. Ali McGraw was totally hot, when I was about 6.

Stevie Nicks: the ne plus ultra of boho chic.

That's right, we bitches will be sacrificing ourselves in the name of science. Er, fashion. Fashion science? Yeah, that's it. Stretch? Hell yes. We Bitches eat change for breakfast!

Can you feel the excitement? Can you? I can!! Stay tuned!