Monday, November 22, 2010

SUV Fashion

Next up is post number 8 in a series in which the Bitches attempt looks from the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style using clothing from our very own closets.

American Classic

What does it mean?

Moi: To me, American Classic is the most no-brainer of all the looks in the Lucky Guide, perhaps because it is the look that I most gravitate towards. After all, I live in the American Southwest, and although American Classic is a riff on what the Guide calls our, "collective fixation on the Northeastern-elite lifestyle," there is about the style something that is equally representative of the American ideals of rugged outdoorsmanship, individualism, and egalitarian ease. It's no accident that Ralph Lauren, the King of American Classic, spent his most creative years drawing inspiration from the Rocky Mountain Southwest. One of the very first designer pieces I bought for myself was one of his Santa Fe Style Prairie Skirts, and I am a Lauren fan to this day.

Pirate: This is the look that is the fallback look for me. It's my uniform. It's what I wear when I can't think of what to wear. Best of all, it fills so many gaps: it can be worn casual and/or professional, it's comfortable, it's easy. Shopping for it is a snap: it's basically everything J. Crew. It's also everything Land's End, Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Talbot's, Ann Taylor . . . you get the idea

American Classic Icons:

Moi: When I think American Classic, I think three people: Jackie O, representing the East Coast's jaw-clenched preppy elite, and Lauren Hutton, representing the rest of the country's easy-breezy outdoor vibe. And, of course, one of my all-time favorite fashion icons and all around emulatable gals, Katherine Hepburn.

Pirate: Hells to the Yes on Lauren Hutton, who I remember re-discovering when she did a fashion shoot for J. Crew a year or so ago and wore all denim and white. She looked classic and fabulous, as ever. I also think of Lauren Bacall as an American Classic fashion icon: at 86 years old, that woman is a national treasure to fashion. She's all business, all classic.

Bacall then . . .

And now—such class.

The Pieces

Moi: The thing about American Classic is that, depending on material, designer, and craftsmanship, the pieces can be either high or low brow: polo shirts, silk sheaths with embellished necklines, double breasted jackets, penny loafers, cardigans, cashmere twin sets, and English riding boots on the one hand; jean jackets, slim white slacks, corduroy blazers, white button-downs, and tennis shoes on the other.

Pirate: This look surprised me in that every essential piece in the repertoire was something I could easily find in my closet (except for tweed—I seem to be lacking the simple tweed skirt that is so much a part of the look). The part I struggled with the most on this look is accessories, mainly because there's not much. The staples are pearls (studs and chokers), and gold (link bracelets, rings, hoop earrings). Although I have them, I often overlook their simplicity, and this look is all about understated elegance. I would argue that most women's best pieces in their closet are probably American Classic staples—your good blazer, your nicely pressed button down shirt, and your softest cashmere are probably all American Classic cuts.

Putting it all together:


Banana Republic chambray button down shirt, Ralph Lauren cashmere pencil skirt, thrifted pearls, BCBG boots

Vince cable knit cashmere sweater, Sparrow cardigan, Banana Republic wool scarf, Anthropologie belt, Pilcro corduroy jeggings, Børn riding boots, vintage Navajo pawn sand cast cuff

DKNY pinstripe blazer, NYC & Co white button down cotton shirt, Dolce and Gabanna white cotton pants, Peter Som leather wrap around belt, Anthropologie necklace, Unisa metallic sandals

And, finally, my "uniform." Some version of which is pretty much my daily, non-business go-to outfit in the fall and winter:

Atelier four season wool blazer, Vince cable knit cashmere sweater, Betsy Johnson belt, Gap jeans, Arturo Chiang boots

Pirate: I am actually having to narrow down the looks, they really are that easy to put together. Here's an everyday easy business ensemble:

J. Crew 3/4 sleeve "perfect" button down shirt, J. Crew stretch wool pencil skirt, J. Crew "Juliet" patent leather mid-heel

Slightly dressed up casual, work-appropriate (depending on where you work), or weekend appropriate:

J. Crew cashmere t-shirt, short-sleeve white button-down, J. Crew velvet pinstripe blazer, Michael Kors skinny jeans, J. Crew pointy-toed herringbone flats

I'm starting to see a theme here on where my clothes come from . . .

J. Crew "Dream" turtleneck, J. Crew vintage matchstick cords, J. Crew leopard patent belt, Vince Camuto "Fays" over-the-knee boot

Equally at home at the stable or the desk:

J. Crew 'Thandie" felted wool jersey double breasted blazer, J. Crew toothpick riding pant, J. Crew "Frances" ruffled silk top, J. Crew "Flannery" menswear detailed heel

Final Thoughts on this Look:

Moi: For better or for worse, American Classic is how I dress myself about 80 percent of the time. I think, for me, it's all about the organic, tactile nature of the fabrics: lush cashmere, crisp cotton, weathered leathers, and lightweight wools.

Pirate: This is a look that's all about closet classics—these pieces should be your everyday staples. It's easy to put together, comfortable to wear, and looks good on any body type. The key is to have good quality pieces in your wardrobe—spend the money on good quality items, and they will keep you looking good for many seasons.

Up Next: Pirate and Moi do Rock and Roll. It's about $*#@ing time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Closet Curators

Note: this post is number 7 in a series in which the Bitches attempt looks from the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style using clothes from our own closets.

Arty Slick - What's it mean?

Pirate: To me, Arty slick is not well named. Maybe you got the right picture in your head, but when I heard "slick," my head went straight to 1930's Gangster Chic . . . which has nothing to do with this look. Arty Slick is all about not blending in: it's minimalist, it's stylish, it's avant-garde, and it's weird. Everything about this look is about making the wearer stand out from the pack . . . to a point, since the main colors in the Arty Slick palette are black and white. Other "industrial" colors are allowed, but black and white are the mode of the day.

Moi: I had the opposite response. Say Arty Slick to me and my mind races back to my art school daze, when everyone seemed so angular and minimal, as if the story of their lives were being sound tracked by Joy Division. Black draped sheath dresses, skinny jeans worn with wafer thin cotton tees, and tangled, jutting pieces of metal "jewelry" were the order of the day. However, even though I know this look well in my brain, re-creating it in real life proved more difficult.

Arty Slick Icons

Pirate: Arty Slick icons are the fringe-ey weirdos of the celebrity world who are highly respected and celebrated for their fringe-ey weirdness. Most notable icons include Tilda Swinton,

Isabella Rosellini,

and Donna Karan.

Yep, Donna Karan, whose extremely functional clothing line is worn by pretty much anyone, is an Arty Slick icon.

Moi: Double yep. The only thing I want to add here is that if I had a bajillion dollars, I'd own every piece of clothing that came out of Donna Karan's Fall 2009 collection. Her draping is out of this world.

The Pieces

Pirate: Pieces defining the Arty Slick look are often asymmetrical, or drapey, or edgy, or graphic, or just plain unusual. Jewelery is sculptural and/or over-sized. One of my favorite arty slick essential pieces is an off-kilter kilt—when I realized I had three of these in my closet, it occurred to me that this look was already in my wardrobe DNA.

Moi: I own at least a half dozen jersey draped tops, a couple asymmetrical draped tees, draped cardigans, and a few pieces of modernist style jewelry. But my absolute favorite Arty Slick-ish piece is a pair of black silk Karen Millen parachute pants that I was slavering for at the beginning of summer and which I managed to snag at a deep, deep discount.

Putting it together

Pirate's Outfits
In the Lucky Guide, Isabella Rosellini says that she, "look(s) at clothes as if they are pieces in the Guggenheim." I took this to heart when I put together my Arty Slick looks. At least one piece in each look has a story: purchased in Europe in some out of the way boutique, or hidden in my closet because it just has magic properties. Every one of my Arty Slick looks incorporated favorite pieces in my closet put together in a way I hadn't quite thought of until now—and they just. . . clicked. Somehow, weird, unusual pieces work exactly right with other weird, unusual pieces. It helps when all your weird pieces are in shades of black, white, and grey.

A black pencil skirt is a very wearable thing, but a furry black pencil skirt is a little bit of a challenge. Especially if the skirt has a kangaroo pouch.

J. Crew Tuxedo shirt, White House/Black Market laser-cut platforms, Alexander McQueen b&w scarf, Ted Baker merino fur pencil skirt.

Did I mention it's made of fur?

These trousers I refuse to part with because they're magic, I tell you, magic! They are the oddest find ever—not quite blue, not quite black, with a tuxedo stripe detail up the leg, and they're made of a fantastically draping synthetic. They're difficult to wear because they're wide legged and 3/4 length. They don't really belong to any one season, but they fit like a dream and I refuse to part with them. They came out just for this look:

Karen Millen sleeveless white zipper top, BCBG drape-front grey cashmere cardi, Jessica Simpson chili red "Astor" platform peep toe slingbacks, Anthropologie chile red sculptural necklace, Ted Baker blue/black tuxedo 3/4 length wide-legged trousers

Here's my off kilter kilt, long hidden, now found. The shapeless poncho pairs beautifully with the skirt, which also has a big ol' pocket right in the front. I love this kilt so much that I bought two in different colors, because I felt so strongly about how it expressed my inner "weirdo." The boots with hook-and-eye detail all the way up the shaft are kind of Goth, which I consider a sub-set of the Arty Slick look.

Banana Republic white shirt, Anthropologie "Silver Cloud" poncho, Donald Pliner boots, grey wool asymmetrical Jigsaw kilt, Cartman the grey cat (whom Moi will eventually steal)

My favorite modern drama everyday look. It's easy to wear an over-the-knee boot with this look because I don't resemble a pole dancer in the slightest. I look serious, in an arty way.

BCBG grey leggings, BCBG black leather over-the-knee boots, Karen Millen black asymmetrical zipper cardi, Alexander McQueen b&w scarf

Moi's Outfits:
This is an outfit built for an evening of cheap wine and expensive art. Where everyone stands around in tilt-headed contemplation of $12,000 piles of fiber and paint and steel uttering things like, "Paradigm-busting interpretation of post-modern methodologies," when in their heads they're thinking, "Christ on a cracker; my eight-year old could have made this."

Fremont silk jacket, Zoa tie-dyed asymmetrical tank, Karen Millen silk parachute pants, DKNY faux lizard gladiator sandals, Sigrid Olsen medallion necklace.

This is what I'd wear to work if I worked in an office that was just slightly stick-in-the-muddish and I fancied myself . . . just a bit of a rebel? I dunno. I'm not much for head-to-toe black and white. I do like the way the shoes thumb their nose at all that monotone, though, while still retaining the Arty Slick industrial edge.

BCBG shirt and skirt, Chanel studded cuff, BCBG "Ivanka" peep toe pumps.

This outfit comes closest to how I tend to dress in my every day life. Even though the over-the-knee boots are suede and therefore a tiny bit more Boho than Soho, I think they can impart an Arty Slick vibe, too.

Banana Republic wool cardigan wrap, BCBG navy jersey drape top, CAbi black stretch skinny jeans, Dolce Vita over-the-knee suede boots, unknown "tangle" necklace.

Final Thoughts on This Look

Pirate: I found I could do Arty Slick much easier than I thought I could. Here I was thinking that Arty Slick was a "them" look, and it turns out it's also "me!" I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a look that I can get away with every day if I want to.

Moi: While I initially fumbled and bumbled, in the end, I began to look at all the slick, drapey, "weird" things in my closet in a whole new way as well. I was even inspired to purchase an entirely new Arty Slick item, from Anthropologie, no less: Although, I do plan to wear this with color.

Up next: Pirate and Moi do American Classic

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mod-Er-Ate Moi

All righty then, here we go with post number 6 in a series in which the Bitches attempt looks from the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style using clothing from our very own closets.

While Pirate got to release her inner sex kitten with her Bombshell post of a few weeks ago, I was tasked with releasing my inner . . . Mod. Yeah, baby. And in so doing, discovered that while I'm not at all crazy about the style (I think it works best on young gals with walking stick insect bodies, not athletic JLo types like Moi), I actually have quite a few pieces in my closet that could be considered Mod. Go figure. Not to mention the fact that I still retain what seems to be quite a Mod-ish haircut
(note to all you gals considering a pixie crop, just remember: grow out is a bitch).

The look we now call Mod originated in swinging 1960s London and was basically the invention of one woman: Mary Quant.

Mary was hailed a fashion pioneer for her stark, streamlined silhouettes, the use of black, white, and primary colors, and an over all futuristic feel. With Twiggy as her muse, dresses got shorter, boots higher, shoes flatter, and hair, whether long or short, most definitely sleeker.

Key pieces include: flat boots, square stacked-heel shoes, stovepipe black pants, mini-skirts, turtleneck sweaters, wide-legged jeans, knit sweater dresses, swing/shift/a-line dresses, and statement coats of all kinds.

Modern day Mod is being reinterpreted by designers like Norma Kamali and Diane Von Furstenberg, here:

A certain Mod vibe seems to cling to a few Young Hollywood celebs as well, like Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel.

Realizing that I don't have a single thing in my closet that makes me look like a stewardess on the next flight to Mars, I nonetheless gave it the ol' college try with something in the signature Mod palette, black and white:

LL Bean cashmere turtleneck sweater, Banana Republic hounds tooth pencil skirt, New York and Company belt, Hue tights, Söft booties.

Do Mods live in Minnesota? They do? Good, then maybe this outfit qualifies.

Isabella Bird leather car coat, LL Bean cashmere turtleneck, Seven for All Mankind bootleg jeans, Gianni Bini boots, adjustable Lia Sophia pendant necklace.

My attempt at an Anne Margaret vibe. Only minus the Anne Margaret.

BCBG sweater, adjustable Lia Sophia pendant necklace, CAbi black stovepipe jeans, Calvin Klein silver snakeskin slingbacks.

Statement coated:

And knit dressed:

CAbi wool "Shakespeare" coat, Garnet Hill wool sweater dress, brushed metal and elastic belt, Hue textured tights, Børn riding boots.

And, finally, as close as I could come to the signature Mod look: A-line or swing-shaped dress, tights, and stacked-heel shoes:

BCBG silk shift dress, Hue tights, Gianni Bini black leather peep toe pumps.

While none of these outfits are anything that I wouldn't necessarily wear, neither do I think they are really Mod in the fullest sense of the word. To me, Mod carries with it a definite costumey vibe, which is probably why it's the one style I find myself least drawn to.

Up next: Pirate and Moi do Arty Slick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

shapeless things

While Moi is away slaving over a hot laptop, we'll take a break from the Lucky throw-down to pique your interest in a trend we've been watching closely: the poncho.

Yes, I said poncho.

The first image in my head when I see that word is the $10 acrylic thing I bought in Juarez one lost weekend. It had llamas on it and a fringe. It fell past my knees and smelled of lanolin. I felt like Clint Eastwood when I wore it. My kids have ponchos in their wardrobes too. They are the single most favored winter clothing items they own, probably because it's the equivalent of wearing a blankie in public. I can totally get behind this trend, I know on some days I'd love to wear my blankie to work too.

The new poncho bears no resemblance to the old hippie picnic blanket that doubles as a tent. It is no longer a crocheted square with a hole for your head. It does not smell like patchouli, and it is not a woolen muumuu.

The new trend in poncho is shorter and slimmer construction , showing off your waist and creating a longer silhouette. It is chic and refined, and sometimes calls itself a capelet, or shrug.

Land's End Heritage Capelet

Not a llama in sight.

BCBG Faux Fur Shrug

Be warned: these pieces look like knitted sacks on a rack, but once on, they look chic and cozy with boots, leggings, and pretty much any shirt you like underneath.

Anthropologie Thousand Words poncho

You can also totally change the look of your favorite sheath dress by throwing one of these warm fuzzies over the top.
Forever 21 Looped Poncho

Like my old Mexican hippie find, the new ponchos in trend-ville are not expensive, although they can be tricky to find. I skipped over one on a sales rack because it looked like a disheveled pile of yarn. I happened to see someone else trying one on and saw how awesomely it worked, right away.

If you spot one, be fearless: go try out this new trend, and let us know what you think.