Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The List

At the beginning of each new shopping season I like to make a list. A list of things I feel I need to be the stylin' maven' that I fancy myself to be. First I preshop, to see what it is that I want, I usually just head down to Michigan Ave. and browse away.

Pre-poverty, this was much more careless, but this year, in light of recent tragedies (see last post), I am sitting down and making a shopping budget for myself.

This is a great exercise for all of us Chicago shoppers. Being the cheap bastards that we are, it is important to see just how easy it can be to make style work when all you have is two nickels to rub together. You just need to look at fall shopping as updating, not completely revamping your wardrobe.

A great way to do this, is by looking for trendy accessories to use with your classic pieces. This season a big belt that fits around your waist, like this one from Target will only set you back $19.99 and will get you loads of milage this season, with a cute pencil skirt or some trousers it will give you the high waisted effect that everyone is going for this season.

And now for the high rollers, the apparel. These items must be carefully chosen as they are the most expensive. Make sure if you are ready to lay down some serious scrilla that you are doing it on a piece that is well made
and fits perfectly, otherwise, try to cheap out a little bit. For instance a great skinny pant would be these gray, skinny trousers from Old Navy at a mere $34.50, they are perfectly priced for a trend. I'm also splurging on a pair of super high waisted, wide leg trousers at H&M which sort of look like these Nanette Lepore trousers, only mind cost $45 instead of $275. Typically I would recommend buying a high waisted pencil skirt instead, since you've already got a pant. I already have a skirt that acheives the look, so I'm going with the pant.

Now we only have three things left to purchase: a blouse, a jacket, and some shoes!

The Blouse:$32.50 at delias.com:

The Jacket:$54.50 at delias.com:

The Shoes:$24.99 at Target:

And the Grand Total for all of it is, drum roll please.... $211.48

A more than reasonable cost to update your wardrobe. Please, save your pennies, Chicagoans, and hit the streets in style this fall. Think of it as a creative challenge!

P.S. A couple other great spots to find stylish clothes for a bargain are H&M, Filene's Basement, Crossroads Trading Company, and of course, the thrift store!

tags: Chicago Fashion ; Target ; Old Navy ; H&M ; Nanette Lepore ; Delias ; Pencil Skirt ; High Waisted Pants

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tragédie à Target

My spirit was killed a little bit today by a Paul and Joe, white, leather jacket.

I know you all know I'm working on a budget over here, a budget that doesn't include the funds for a $139 white leather, ruffeled collar, motorcyle jacket.

At TARGET! Aren't they supposed to be a place where I can buy a $50 white leather, Paul and Joe motorcycle jacket?

It was love at first sight. I tried it on without thinking. And it fit perfectly, the collar was delightful. It would've been great layered with a mini dress and skinny pants. Or with my trouser jeans and some heels.

After twirling around in the mirror for a couple of minutes, I decided to see how much my new coat was going to set me back. And then I was shot down. The coat could not be mine. It was painful. I ran away from the coat, wheeling away my cart full of lean cusines and method cleaning products.

My roomate saw my anguish and kept saying, "I'm so sorry."

I'm just hoping it will still be around after next paycheck!

tag: Chicago Fashion ; Target ; Paul and Joe

Too Haute to Handle?

As I was busy resisting my urge to do a flip by flip of the fall Vogue here on Mode-us, I instead contemplated Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta's fall lines. With structured tulip skirts from Balenciaga and 19th century updates at de la Renta, what I want to know is this: when does fashion become to haute to handle?

On one hand, I love the whimsey of these lines. They are costume-like in fit and in styling. The colors are bright, attention grabbing, and rich. I would use them as outfits for plays like Alice in Wonderland or some sort of high fashion Heda Gabler. How much like dress up it would be to wear these beautiful clothes.

On the other hand I think, where the FUCK am I going to wear that?! I mean, if Kirsten Dunst looks strange in what is essentially a reverse hoop skirt, I'm definately going to look strange in it. I can just see the looks on people's faces, me walking down Clark st. in a Reverse hoop skirt. For ready-to-wear, I feel like these designs are rather unwearable. They are too haute to handle.

(...but I am excited to see what celebs are fashion forward enough to pull the trigger.)

tags: Chicago Fashion ; Vogue; Oscar de la Renta ; Balenciaga ; Kirsten Dunst ; Haute Couture

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fashion: A Musical Approach

This weekend while paying a visit to my family at our lakehouse in Michigan I got to take in my little sis' Teen Vogue, Fashion Rocks insert. As a fashion enthusiast and an avid music appreciator, I was more than excited to take in a combination of the objects of my cultural lust.

It seems to me that since musicians have had the publicity to become cultural icons, they have been setting fashion trends. More than any two industries, fashion and music seem to feed off eachother, influencing the other to new and exciting heights of art and development. The article in Teen Vogue had a quote by our beloved Marc Jacobs, stating, "It was music and fashion together, seeing beauty in awkwardness. It was rebellious but not aggressive. And there was a very artistic side to it-going against the glam and the glitz that went before."

It seems that now, almost 10 years into a new century we are heading in the same direction. Gwen Stefani has L.A.M.B., Rocawear is sweeping the world, and we see more and more designers using recording stars as their muses (see Jennifer Lopez for Louis Vuitton and Christina Aguilera for Versace).

Getting to the point, Chicago is one of the country's music capitals; the home of the blues and jazz, and a major indie-rock hub. So it seems to me, that with music as such an integral part of our community's identity, fashion should follow.

I hate to use it as an example, but Emo has really produced the sort of movement I'm talking about. A group of kids who embraced the sad bastard sounds of the likes of Dashboard Confessionals and Bright Eyes (who I love), and carried it through into a whole counter culture of sad bastardom. I love you for this emo kids.

Fashion Rocks has made me think about the ways in which the copious amounts of music I listen to have influenced my own personal style. For instance, CocoRosie makes me feel whimsical, so usually i'll step out wearing some sort of gauzy dress or tunic by Free People. If I listen to Rilo Kiley, I end up with my hair down and wavy in some ultra girly rock-a-billy style outfit. Any sort of rock n' roll like the Chili Peppers or We are Scientists and I'm in some sort of layered graphic tee, jeans and my chucks (worn down to nothing with love).

And so, in light of this, I want to pose a challenge to you, Chicago (and whoever else may happen across my ramblings), to share with me your favorite musician, and how listening to that music has influenced your personal style. Or at the very least, what designer you would dress that artist in.

tag: Teen Vogue ; Fashion Rocks ; Marc Jacobs ; Music ; L.A.M.B ; Rocawear ; Chicago Fashion ; CocoRosie ; Rilo Kiley ; Chloe ; Stella McArtney ; Prada

Saturday, August 19, 2006

My Self-Indulgent Pontifications

I'm doing some clandestine blogging at work. I love it. I was just telling my 40 year old, gay co-worker about my blog. He said Chicagoans aren't fashionable because we're fat. It's true. Then we counted, out of ten people that walked by the window, how many were overweight, and there were only two. Who knows, maybe we're wrong.

But, what I do know, is that I sit in front of two big picture windows looking out on one of Chicago's busiest streets for 45 hours every week, and I see waaaay more atrocities than I do snappy dressers.

Today, I am here to send out a plea to all the women of Chicago:

PLEASE, please, please, stop wearing sweat-mini-skirts and those terri cloth, Juicy couture mini-dresses. If I have to look at one more woman in a pink ruffled sweat mini, I will vomit. My eyes hurt. There is better lounge- wear out there. I'd even prefer a velour track suit. Anything but those sweat-minis and rouched, flourescent moo moos. The End.

tag: Chicago Fashion ; Juicy Couture

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Skinny 101

This fall's hottest trend, Skinny pants, is oh so fun, and oh so intimidating. I'm not usually a fan of material clinging to my leg from waist to ankle, but this take off of last winter's cigarette jean is to chic to poo poo. They make me think of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Enough said.

As with most trends, Skinny pants are not meant for all, and there are rules. These pants are not to be "thrown on" (don't kid yourself. They aren't comfortable) some coordination is needed. Soooo....Here are the rules (according to me):

1. Proportions:
Skinny pants are about creating the illusion of long, thin legs. Unless you do in fact have long, thin legs, you are going to have to put together other pieces that will help the look come together. Long, tunics/mini dresses are hot right now, those skinny pants peaking out from underneath a billowy tunic balances the proportions of the pant. It's that boho chic, I only eat granola and yogurt look. Wearing anything to tight or short on top and you will run the risk of looking like a bad 80's fashion flashback. And no one wants that. This pic from The Sartorialist today illustrates perfect Skinny pant execution.

Almost anyone can wear Skinny pants if they choose the right cut and fabric. Denim is great, it typically hides any bumps, but is bulky in and of itself. Anything too thin and unlined is not a good idea, we don't want to see something that looks like leggings without anything over them. I personally prefer my pair of grey, gabardine skinny pants from H&M. They aren't a flashy color and the fabric is the perfect weight! In short, try them on, if you look like you're wearing tights and nothing else, DO NOT pull the trigger.

3. Shoes
Lets face it, the right pair of shoes can make or break an outfit. I personally feel that skinny pants should not be worn without heels of some sort; kitten,stiletto, stacked, I don't care, but if you're going to wear pants that call attention to your legs, you want them to look their best, and they will always look their best in heels. (Flats are okay if your pants are tailored to hit the ankle or just above it, though I'm personally not a fan).

What it really comes down to is finding the right pair for you, and rocking them. Fashion is 50% fit and 50% attitude. If you like what you're wearing, you'll look great.

P.S. for those of us who can't do the Skinny, high waisted wide legs are flattering and MUCH easier to wear!

tag: Chicago Fashion ; Skinny Pants ; The Sartorialist

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Project Run-Day: The Fashion Lover's Friday!

After being in France for Project Runway Season 1, you can imagine my excitement in discovering what I had missed in the character rich Season 2! I'm now hosting weekly "Project Run-day" parties where my friends and I sit glued to the television, holding our breaths for commercial breaks and between gulps of what I wish I could say were Martinis or something a little chicer, but is actually Bud Light.

Now that its Mid-Season 3, and things are starting to get juicy, I can't help but contemplate how the world of fashion has become increasingly accessible to the average American, largely due to the exposure Project Runway has provided. Reality television is good for something after all.

P.R. leaves the American Public (thats you too Chicago) no excuse for bad taste. Watch closely and you'll learn about how to dress for every different occasion, personality, and body. It is our American Couture " how-to" book.

I feel like P.R. is marking the entry into a new phase of American Cultural development. I think of the European Countries and their rich cultures and unique senses of fashion and how much this fashion contributes to their identities. It is a new dimension for our country as we have begun to make a larger contribution to the world of high fashion and to our own cultural identity.

tag: Chicago Fashion;Project Runway

Monday, August 14, 2006

Midwestern Mediocrity

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about beginning this blog. As far as major US cities go, Chicago seems to be a fashion blackhole (I mean we have ikram, which is apparently fabulous, though I'm not sold). Despite this fact, there seem to be an appreciating number of people who really care about fashion in this city. I have come up with several reasons for why we are a black hole and it all has to do with Chicago's wholely Midwestern personality:

1. Chicagoans c
hose function over form: On any given evening out in Chicago you will most likely see a lot of people wearing jeans and t-shirt (usually pledging allegiance to their baseball team of choice) and some form of sneaker. Comfort and the ability to walk are valued over the glamour of high fashion. I fall into this I admit, because often times my "day to evening" looks rend me the most over-dressed gal about town.

The Lincoln Park Trixies are an exception, but their velour Juicy sweat pants, pink Ugg boots, and label who
re bags are almost too sheep-like to bear; I'll take Chucks and my Levi's over blind conformity any day.

2. We are cheap bastards: Midwestern folk, Chicagoans included, are predominantly middle class. Whereas we like to sport a few status symbols, you rarely find a Chicago twenty-something rocking head to toe designer clothing. We don't have it in us to pay $610 for the new MJ Loafer Pumps at Barney's. In fact I only know one person who shops at Barney's. I am poor and therefore relegated to H&M and the thrift stores ( we do have great thrift though if you can dig; I found an amazing YSL Rive Gauche skirt circa 1984 for $3 this year!!!).

Neither are we an extremely well-traveled brand of people (generally of course). My mother came to visit me while I was living in France and when we went to Paris thought that wearing black pants everywhere would put her at the height of fashion. Oh la!

People from the Midwest flock to Chicago to shop at The Gap, J. Crew, and Banana Republic. They shop for basics that don't stand out. We are cheap, thrifty, and therefore generally boring classic American. Midwesterners don't take chances, they just want to stay warm!

3: Midwestern Folk ain't skinny!
The winter in The Windy City isn't for today's waif-like body type. Chicagoans, compared to most other cities I've visited are just a little bit on the pleasantly plump side. For this reason, it is difficult to rock the high fashion trends made for our fellow east and west-coasters.

When you see your boss eating meatloaf for breakfast on a Tuesday morning, you know you're living in Chicago.

Thus, in light of these minor issues, I'm on a mission. I'm going to bring you some Chi-town street fashion, talk about how to look expensive on a budget and hopefully make fashion more accessible to our lovely Midwestern metropolis!

tags: Chicago Fashion ; Marc Jacobs ; Lincoln Park Trixies