Summer Fashion Kool-Aid: Part III

Gallery of Fashion (T)errors
(Click on image for full size view
of each cartoon)

Just Say No To The Final Sale?: I don’t know about you, but it takes me about halfway into a season to figure out what to wear, so I’m just hitting my summer stride. Fortunately (or unfortunately) that discovery tends to coincide with sale season making me an easy target for the bait: the dreaded fashion mistake purchase. Apparently it happens to the best of us according to Meenal Mistry who wrote an article in the weekend edition of the WSJ entitled “Oops, I Did It Again” and known as “Five Ways to Avoid Shopping Mistakes” online. (See Article) I’m wondering if Britney Spears knows about that for two reasons.

One is the obvious appropriation of her song title and the other is because Ms. Spears (who I love dearly) aside from when she is onstage and is trashy chic, always looks as if she shopped the sale rack at Kmart during a major clearance 15 years ago. If that’s the case at least she’s not out a lot of cash as Ms. Mistry is with the purchase of a tragic pair of marked down Celine tuxedo pants with an odd fit. They are unfixable by a tailor due to their strange proportions; overly big waist coupled with overly tight legs.

“Fashion Don’ts” – Courtney Love

The article categorizes the main “boo-boos” we all tend to make when confronted with a “too-good-to-be-true” sale and details how these mistakes make a great teaching opportunity so as not to become a repeat offender. On the other hand, she also says that “missing out on something great is a mistake” so how do you tell the difference? Her best advice: “Believe in love at first try” is a good one; anything that has difficulties in the store will only become more pronounced when you get it home. She encourages you to think of your best fashion purchase, how you felt when you found it and set the bar there.

CDG jacket

Also, sales themselves can be suspect: the odds of something great from a major designer fashion house being marked down over 50% are zero according to the article. My own personal experience is that if you are somewhere out of the way (read NOT NYC) you can sometimes find a good deal on an item that no one in let’s say the ATL would dare wear still languishing on the sale rack. Even on Madison Avenue in Manhattan I’ve lucked out recently scoring an unworn tags-still-attached Comme Des Garcons blazer with weird rosette/origami embellishments at more than 70% off including the 20% off sale that the entire store was having. Granted, it’s not the sort of piece you wear every day but, if you want statement making it’s got that covered! I’m definitely thinking Fashion Week worthy…

Refashionista “reforms” Nun dress

ReFashionista Inspo: Not sure how I’m so tardy to the party but the Refashionista just came on my horizon aka Jillian Owens from Columbia, South Carolina. Upset with the current trend for “fast fashion” and disposability of said items, Ms. Owens decided about four years ago to use garments that she found in a local thrift store for $1 or things donated from friends and repurpose them into fashionable and wearable items. She then puts the made over item on her blog, wears it once, and then donates it to a women’s shelter — how amazing is that? She is incredibly creative and will not hesitate to pick the most heinous garment and by sewing, dyeing and tweaking (sometimes making an entirely different garment out of it as in a skirt could become a top) she will make it fashionable.

She appeared on Rachael Ray in July 2012 and remade a studio audience member’s pink poufy prom dress (a “Pretty In Pink” moment?) into something “wearable for every day” and it’s killing me that I cannot find the clip of the reveal anywhere. In the meantime, her blog is endlessly entertaining and I only touched the tip of the iceberg on it with her most recent entries. It’s a little Project Runway without the trip to Mood, the infighting with the other designers, or Tim Gunn. Ms. Owens’ tone is fairly irreverent which keeps it interesting. Check it out here:

Cast of B.O.R.N. To Style

“What’s On The Telly?”: No, it’s not a penguin but, Monty Python reference aside, there are some great July happenings in TV land.  First of all, Project Runway is back with a new season on July 24 and I can’t wait! Need my PR fix ASAP! In the meantime, I’ve pre-watched online a new show on FYI, Network (formerly Bio channel) called “B.O.R.N. To Style” which premiered July 15 (Thursdays at 10 p.m.) It’s another show about stylists (I was a fan of Lifetime’s “Million Dollar Shopper” when it was on last summer) however the action on this show takes place in a brick-and-mortar local vintage store on West 125th Street in Harlem. B.O.R.N stands for borrowed, old, refurbished, new and the nine year old store is ” part hangout, part boot camp, part advice shop.” (See video)

Owned by the ebullient Jonathan Bodrick described as a “father figure” as well as “Attila the Hun mixed with the fairy from Cinderella” and featuring stylists Latino JJ Langan, Southerner Brandon Hood. Assistant/Jonathan’s godson Devin Stokes; Jonathan’s 11 year partner/lover Terry Artis as well as makeup artist and the “only anatomically correct girl”( according to JJ), Kristen Brown constitute the rest of this lively crew. This half-dozen crack-wise and smart at first impression–in fact, if you’ve read my recount of the Met Costume Gala where I was standing near a group of gay men who were sharp with the one liners, then this is like flashing forward about a decade or so with them.

Jonathan, JJ and client Alison

While not necessarily catty, these men are slinging the zingers and bon mots with amazing alacrity. Some examples are more straightforward including Jonathan’s “Fashion is more than what you wear…it’s an attitude,” or “The closet is the window to the soul,” as well as “good fashion begins with your undergarments.” As he explains when styling one of the two clients (both singers incidentally) featured on this episode for a fashion shoot, “This isn’t my first runway.” In one scene with JJ and Jonathan heading to see a client on a snow walk through Brooklyn they question whether they are in Williamsburg or Bushwick. “I don’t know, I think it’s the same. The neighborhood has changed,” Jonathan says.

The quips mostly fall to JJ and Brandon with his southern inflection, who when referring to Devin’s lateness to the photo shoot styling says “Sometimes that boy is about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” Upon seeing a wall sized prop of a gun in a client’s Brooklyn apartment Brandon utters “We need to shoot her with a fashion bullet.” Upon coaxing and cajoling the picky Pharrell discovered singer Maxine Ashley who likes to dress “boy” into some fishnets and a sequin bodysuit while retaining her “edginess” he shows his approval with “It’s about to get severe up in here.” During a bra fitting for client Alison (a boyish Blondie/Debbie Harry aspirant who previously only owned and wore sports bras) JJ exhibits disbelief that anyone wouldn’t want to show off an asset: “If I had boobs, everyone would know!” he proclaims. During the stressful photo shoot when an outfit isn’t quite working he offers: “Although I do trust Jonathan’s aesthetic, there’s a fine line between genius and madness and that line gets crossed way too often.” Since this was only the first episode of the season I’m wondering if the repartee will stay snappy all the way until the finale.

Alison as a rock star

Also of note, as opposed to “Million Dollar Shoppers” there is no mention of retail prices so far in this show although high-end designers names are constantly dropped, making me wonder if Alison’s Stella McCartney pants outfit was a gift or a show loaner? Previously oversized-sweatsuit-wearing rock band lead singer/ Metropolitan Opera dancer Alison glows as she describes her glam moth to “butterfly”-like transformation. She went from looking like a ” homeless boy to looking like a rock star!” so all’s good in the hood! “I feel like a more vibrant version of myself,” she adds in perhaps the most empowering statement. This episode definitely had a gender bending aspect to it which brings the song “Lola” by the Kinks to mind about. For a new take on this concept, check out the Jenny Lewis video which recently went viral online called “Just One of the Guys” starring Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway and Brie Larson in drag. (Play Video)

If nothing else, Jenny’s suit is all kinds of awesome.

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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