Monday, September 15, 2014

Faking Minimalism

Yes, I am still doing outfit posts! Yes, those are from teaching days; I am still finessing my work uniform, as I am not yet ready to commit to a certain look but I do want the ease of decision-making while dressing, and a defined style. I will probably never be a true minimalist, but I will fake it the best I can. My wardrobe is not exactly small, albeit it is not large either: it takes up half of a small walk-in closet I am sharing with my husband. I would like it to be smaller in theory, but in practice I am not ready to commit to a narrow enough aesthetic (that is, dresses could probably go, but I do enjoy them every now and again.)

Anyway, here's what I wore last Friday.

Fall is my favorite season, because, as mentioned earlier, I gravitate toward seasonal fibers as much (if not more) as seasonal clothing items. So yes, sweaters, and yes, layering; but most of all, I welcome the season of wool and silk, of leather and suede, of texture and more texture. However, since it is still a bit on the warm side, I concede by wearing some more summery toppers, like this Reformation coat, made from recycled heavy cotton and linen:

And check out my bag! It's by Mansur Gavriel, and unlike with clothes, I do enjoy color in my bags and shoes.

 Underneath, I am wearing a silk T by Alexander Wang shirt and Vince wool pants. I love the tuxedo stripe on these, and slim yet easy fit. Shoes are Maje.

The accessories close-up: besides my usual four rings, I am wearing a hammered knuckle ring and the beetle bracelet from Humble Chic. That store is a great source of interesting costume jewelry.

With all my love of chunky statement jewelry pieces, I have been gravitating toward more delicate necklaces lately. While I am certainly not ready to dump all my three-pound bibs yet, I've been wearing more subtle pieces. This is one of my favorites, a small necklace with a lot of visual interest.

 Perhaps, faking minimalism is easier with jewelry?

Friday, September 05, 2014

New York Almost Fashion Week

 So it's this time of the year again. No, I do not mean NYFW but rather the time when Kate Wendelborn of Protagonist presents her next collection, and I travel to NYC like a fashion-forward Hamelin rat.

I feel like I repeat myself a lot -- Wendelborn's aesthetic is as minimal and luxe as always, and the clothes are just as tempting. She continues to develop her pared-down style, and the collection now includes heavenly pants, chunky and lightweight knits, and even skirts and dresses. And as always, there is a plethora of buttoned shirts with gracefully elongated cuffs, silk blouses with scooped hemlines, and superbly cut tanks. There was even a couple of printed pieces in a lovely abstract watercolor that Kate described as "a print for women who don't wear prints".

I am pleased to see that Barney's now carries a few of her pieces too (some are exclusive, including a gorgeous Merlot layered-cuff shirt). But as much as the collection itself, I enjoy the shopping experience -- the chance to chat with the designer and the staff of The Apartment, to shop in a very laid-back atmosphere, and to fulfill the fantasy of being the only person in the store full of amazing clothes. Just look at these racks! Also, as is proper for a fantasy, everything there is the sort of thing I really really like.

 (Needless to say, I did buy a piece. )

And of course I petted the house dog! (Yes, there is food on this table. No, fashion people don't eat.)

 They have redecorated the main space, and I just love the interior design there:

And then it was off to meet Genevieve, grab some ice cream, and head to the fashion show! Brand Assembly is collaborating with Lord and Taylor, and they are carrying a range of limited-edition exclusive pieces by a few up-and-coming brands - Sachin and Babi, Torn by Ronny Kobo, Michelle Kim, Danielle Kallmeyer and Priory of Ten, to name a few. 

First, we looked at the clothes, which are reasonably priced, and lovely:

Love that TORN by Ronny Kobo crochet sweater!

See the logo? Proof we were there!

 And then there was a runway show highlighting the collection. Models whizzed by at warp speeds, so I had better luck capturing the audience and their reaction than the actual looks, but hey.

(This Priory of Ten look is so good, it had to be snapped twice.)

 Here's the program!

And this was my day. Now it's back to school and back to work. So long, fantasy life!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Almost Sweater Weather!

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I want to do a fall fashion post, temperatures jump to 90F. Not so much sweater weather, although this past week has been hopeful: brisk mornings that required a sweatshirt on my usual walk to and from the gym, and the air had this crisp quality I love so much, with the under-taste of apples and yellow leaves. Oh well,the fall is on pause for now, but to celebrate this almost-fall, I'd like to talk about almost-sweaters.

I love cashmere and wool, and the heavy fluid knits in oversized and shrunken silhouettes. But lately my concept of sweaters has expanded to include the sort of in-between garments that are not quite jackets, not quite knits, and yet they are worn as toppers and technically can substitute for either. Here are some favorite pieces:

COS pullover: it is made in woven wool, with a beautiful drape. Wears like a suit, with an ease of a sweater -- perfect with a collared shirt and dress pants.
 Isabel Marant boiled wool jacket. Even though it is technically a jacket, the fabric (thick, soft and woolly) has the give of a knit. During last winter's polar vortex, I layered it under coats, and never looked back.

Shockingly versatile double-faced wool piece by Protagonist. The wool is thick and structured, so that this pullover has an architectural character, and yet functions like a knit. I lived in it last winter and cannot wait to start wearing it again. Here it is at the American Museum of Natural History:

(Layered over Protagonist silk top, with Carin Wester trousers and Emerson Fry trainers).

Recently, I added another piece to my collection of these liminal garments: a wool and suede jacket by Primerova. It is an open jacket in very soft, grey heavy fabric reminiscent of a thick grandpa cardigan. Suede inserts on the shoulders and suede self-belt give it added character, and it can be layered over shirts, t-shirts, other knits, or worn on its own. In the pictures below, I am wearing it with Alexander McQueen belt (it's the one from Spring 2013 beekeeper-themed collection, and I am obsessed with it! There are tiny jeweled bees on the buckle.)

Shoes are Alexander Wang, and the skirt is from Viktor Luna's sample sale. I like the slightly messy look of the jacket here, but of course it can be worn in a more structured way. So I will count among my versatile almost-sweaters (or not-quite jackets), and cannot wait for the temperatures to cool off enough to wear it with long-sleeve t-shirts and tweed pants. Here's to hoping for a long and cool September!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why Outfit Posts?

(Top -COS, pants- Theyskens Theory, shoes - Maje). Minimal and clean look; I am really in love with these pants -- they are made of really structured heavy silk, and thus are simultaneously very tailored and very fluid. Also, being short and wide, they are not traditionally flattering, but I do love the way they look, especially with this boxy top in structured cotton. 

For the longest time, I avoided doing outfit pics. Partly because to me fashion blog means talking about fashion at large; outfit snaps seem to indicate personal style blogs to my eye. Most fashion blogs nowadays seem to be personal style ones, where the main focus is on the pics and not a whole lot of actual analysis going on.

This blog tended in the opposite direction: I talk a lot about emerging and/or international designers, about intersection between garment industry and social justice, between fashion and cultural dominance of the West. I also talk about sartorial visibility of the other and sartorial invisibility of women over 40; I talk about feminists that curiously seem to share the general contempt toward all things traditionally feminine, including fashion and clothes, with cis straight men. Diluting this with outfit pictures seemed unnecessary until recently. And that brings me to my second reason.

Talking about all this is important, sure, but I also started to think that maybe I need to show some of it as well. After all, I am a cultural outsider, an academic, a woman over 40 - all of those not terribly common in the personal style blogosphere. And as I grapple with (in)visibility of all these categories, it seemed fitting to show myself.

I don't think that I have any insights or advice to offer when it comes to styling. But I do hope to have a visual record of what I wear on a daily basis. These are mostly work outfits; my wardrobe is a mix of small indie labels, designer stuff from seasons past, vintage, and fairly little high street. This is my backyard, and a lot of the pictures are taken before going to work or after getting home. And these are the clothes in which I  negotiate academic and outsider spaces. Putting them here feels a bit strange, a bit vulnerable. And this too is an important reason, perhaps. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Outfit of the day-Sunday

I decided to start making more regular outfit posts, highlighting pieces by favorite designers. It's a change for this blog, and I will probably try to verbalize some of the reasons for it as (if) I continue. Short version: visibility.

Today, I'm wearing a blouse by PRIMEROVA (see the post on Moscow Shopping for details). Pants are APC, and the shoes are my trusty Miu Miu slingbacks - they are five years old, and simply don't seem to wear out! The topper is by Emerson Fry, another indie designer that staked out a permanent place in my closet. The belt is vintage Jill Stuart. I've been trying to play with patterns and textures a bit; I like the effect although it is not quite my usual minimal and mostly achromatic aesthetic.

I rarely wear makeup in my outfit pictures- this is by design. While I do wear some basic makeup for work (tinted moisturizer, blush, lipstick or tinted balm), in pictures I prefer to look less polished. I am not sure why that is, but I have a sense that it feels less staged this way. Anyway, here're the pics!