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Posts Tagged ‘women’s clothing’

Breathtaking beauty in NYC, ends March 30: Fortuny, go!

In antiques, beauty, culture, design, Style on March 10, 2013 at 12:13 am

Have you ever heard of Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo?

Robe de Mariano Fortuny. L'influence des arts ...

Robe de Mariano Fortuny. L’influence des arts de l’Islam (musée des arts décoratifs, Paris) (Photo credit: dalbera)

Likely not.

But oh, his talent! His designs — for lighting, color, textiles and paint — are still innovative, timeless and stunning decades after their creation; he lived from 1871 to 1949. If you are anywhere near New York City before March 30, get to 684 Park Avenue, $15 admission, and savor some of the loveliest clothes you will ever see in your life!

If you’ve been watching (?) the hit television series Downton Abbey, you might have caught a scene with Isabel Crawley wearing a very Fortuny-esque black silver-printed sheath. Fortuny’s timeless designs are a perfect period fit for a quirky, rich, bohemian Edwardian like her.

Fortuny Lamps, Venice, Italy

Fortuny Lamps, Venice, Italy (Photo credit: Andy Ciordia)

He certainly began his artistic life with some major advantages — his father and grandfather were directors of the Prado, the exquisite museum in Madrid. Coming from a wealthy background allowed him the time and means to travel widely and to find and cultivate rich women eager to wear and collect his gowns.

His images and references are from Africa, Morocco, the Middle East and earlier historic periods. His shimmering, softly draped fabrics look embroidered with gold or silver threads — but it is metallic paint pressed into silk velvet or cotton or linen with a carved block.

His secret for tightly pleating silk has often been mimicked, but never exactly duplicated. The hem of his Delphos dresses, simple columns of pleated silk, spill out onto the floor like the open petals of a flower. His attention to detail is exquisite: tiny Venetian beads edge his sleeves, satin cord lines his necklines and he included a pleated silk inset on the inside of a sleeve.

The clothes were considered too daring — uncorseted! — for daytime, outdoor use, but women who began wearing them in public were making the case for being beautiful and comfortable at the same time.

I first saw his work at a museum in Lyons, when I was 23 and traveling Europe alone for four months, and I still treasure a poster I bought there then. On that same trip, I went to Venice to Palazzo Orfei, his studio, whose windows are made of round circles of glass, like the bases of wine bottles. The space is filled with his textiles and in the corner is a small white porcelain sink, its edge stained — decades later — with the dried paint he casually smeared off his brushes. It felt like he’d just gone out for a coffee and might return soon.

Palazzo Orfei

Palazzo Orfei (Photo credit: TracyElaine)

I went to this show in Manhattan with a friend, a woman who is very slim and tall and elegant and who I knew would also appreciate his work. It felt like introducing her to some of my old and dearly beloved friends. What a delight to see them again!

As we were leaving the show, I began wrapping my throat in a cream-colored pleated silk scarf/muffler I bought at Banana Republic about 15 years ago — and realized, with a grateful smile, that I’ve been wearing a simulacrum of Fortuny all these years.

English: Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo

English: Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If one more woman bitches about the size of her body…

In aging, beauty, behavior, blogging, books, culture, domestic life, Health, life, Media, women on December 6, 2012 at 12:51 am
What scientists call "Overweight" ch...

What scientists call “Overweight” changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to lose it completely.

Some of you read Kristen Lamb, who writes a blog about writing. It’s extremely popular and usually very helpful. But her latest post was a digression – an extended piece about being a size 10/12 and why she feels fat:

I am healthy, have beautiful skin and hair. I have enough energy to power a small city and am never sick, but I am still a size 10-12 and 170 pounds.

Why is it no one looks like me?

When we look on TV, we are confronted with extremes–super skinny or clinically obese. We are calling anorexics “beautiful” and calling dangerously obese women “curvy.” We are an a country that is dying because of euphemisms. I hear parents call morbidly obese children “husky,” “big-boned” or “muscular.” We have retailers calling anorexics “curvy.”

I get it. I’ve written about this as well.

But, seriously — it is time for women to move on.

Every time a healthy woman feels compelled to discuss the size of her ass or thighs or hips I want to throw a piece of furniture. Yes, being fat is annoying and unhealthy and no one makes pretty clothes for fatties.

I’m overweight, and have been since 2003 when I packed on 23 pounds in one year — the year I wrote my first book, traveling alone around the U.S., interviewing victims of horrific gun violence and crime, and dealing, alone, with my mother’s 3-inch-wide brain tumor and surgery in Vancouver. I was too damn distracted to even notice.

I’ve gained even more since then. Ugh. I’m not thrilled, believe me, to need to lose 40+ pounds. But we need to stop talking about this, and this is why I feel so strongly.

The larger issue here — pun intended — is this:

Whining about weight is the biggest fucking distraction that women indulge in! We have much bigger fish to fry!

Whining about weight is a huge time-suck.

Whining about weight teaches the girls in our lives, who look to us their role models, that this is just what women do, that focusing miserably and endlessly on our individual body size and shape is our most pressing issue as women — instead of political and economic issues that affect us all, size 00s to 24s,  like paid maternity leave or better domestic violence protection or access to birth control and abortion.

Whining about weight ignores and demeans the many incredible gifts we enjoy every single day. We are not living in Syria with government/rebel bombs exploding all around us, for example.

Whining about weight is the ultimate shiny object that women continue to focus their attention on, instead of:

– fighting for social justice, at home and abroad

– running for political office and kicking ass when we win

– creating astonishing works of art

– waking up every single day grateful for their health and strength, the not-so-simple ability to walk and stand and reach for things without pain

– knowing that women all over the world are dying of starvation, malnutrition and in childbirth at 14 or 16 because their young bodies are too weakened to do so healthily

– ditching the people in their lives who shame them by focusing on the size of their ass instead of what matters most, the size of our hearts and brains

– exploring the world, no matter our size, with excitement and anticipation

thinking, long and hard, about our legacies in this world

There is something ironic to me that Kristen’s blog post includes a photo of herself holding — of all things! — a very large gun. Having written a book about American women and guns, I know this decision isn’t one she made lightly, and showing her readers that she owns a gun takes serious guts. Shooting well also requires tremendous mental and physical control.

So, frankly, I don’t get it. You’re powerful and self-determining, or you’re not. A woman who knows how to handle a gun safely and shoot well is someone I respect; I’ve done a lot of shooting and know the power it conveys.

Labels are also something we generally choose to ignore after leaving the schoolyard, so why are women of all ages so eager to keep self-flagellating about how fat we are (or are not?)

At this point, I’m technically “plus size.”

Why don’t the curvy chicks start calling size 6’s and 00’s minus-size?

Give it up, ladies! This obsession is wasting our talent, energy, excitement and drive.

Give it up today.

Coming to New York? Go here!

In business, cities, culture, Style, travel, urban life, US on May 28, 2012 at 12:11 am
English: Interior of Oyster Bar Restaurant, in...

English: Interior of Oyster Bar Restaurant, in Grand Central Terminal, New York City, USA. Photographed by Daniel Case 2006-12-29 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve lived in New York since 1989, in a suburb just north of the city. Ironically, I often introduce my city-dwelling friends to places they’ve yet to discover there.

I spent the weekend in the city, borrowing a friend’s apartment while they are away.

It’s a holiday weekend here and the city is filled with tourists — maybe even some of you!

Here’s my short and highly personal list of things I think worth discovering, some well-known, others much less so; you’ll notice these are mostly adult-only.

Many are old-school, 100+ years old and still going strong.

Feel free to add your suggestions!

Bars

The Pegu Club: elegant, a long gorgeous wooden bar, delicious old-school cocktails, on Houston. (pronounced HOW-ston street.)

Temple Bar: been there forever, marked only by a small white lizard light in the wall. The best bar for a sexy first date, it’s tiny, dark, cosy, grown-up.

King Cole Bar: in the St. Regis Hotel, on Fifth Avenue. Do NOT arrive in jeans, hoodie, sneakers. Dress up and enjoy the fantastic mural by Maxfield Parrish behind the bar.

Old Town: I love this place. Opened in 1892, its wooden booths and super-steep staircase are a step back in time.

McSorley’s Ale House: Originally open only to men, this scruffy spot in the East Village has been around since 1854.

Fanelli’s: Cut glass doors, tiny tables, a back room, a mix of tourists, businessfolk, NYU students, this one’s been going since 1863.

The bar at Fanelli’s

Dublin House: Dive bar!

Restaurants

Brabant Brasserie: Why eat Belgian food in NYC? Because it’s delicious, well-served and well-priced. I ate there three times in three weeks after discovering it this year. The East 50s are a food desert, so this is a real find for the area.

Lucky Strike/Pastis/Schiller’s/Balthazar: All owned by the same man, and all sharing a stylish weathered charm. Settle in at the bar with a magazine and a cold beer and watch the beautiful people (at Balthazar and Pastis) in those oversized antiqued mirrors.

The Red Cat: One of my favorites. Welcoming, good food, a pretty room, an old-timer with charm.

Toloache: We love this place! I’ve been coming here since it opened and its chef not yet well-known. A two-level room with an enormous mural of tile, gorgeous cut-tin hanging lanterns, welcoming service and such great food. This is Mexican food at its delicate, small-portioned finest. Good before the theater; right at the corner of 50th. and Eighth Avenue. (pronounced Tolo-ah-chay.)

The Oyster Bar: In the bowels of Grand Central Station (see below,), sit beneath Guastavino’s curved tile ceiling and enjoy an oyster pan roast or fish stew. Check out the overhead lights with their fleets of boats — shown in the photo with this post. Born in Valencia, Spain, Guastavino invented this handsome form of curved ceilings, patented in the U.S. in 1885.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop: Fuel up here with hordes of Columbia University students with an espresso and strudel. Then cross the street and visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

La Grenouille: Oh, go on. It’s wickedly expensive, but this is one of the classic New York City experiences: quiet, slow, delicious. It’s set into a former townhouse and opened in 1962. Huge floral arrangements, waiters in waistcoats. The real deal.

Museums

The Tenement Museum: This is truly a don’t-miss, if you want to understand something of this city’s history, and how America came to be. Tenements were narrow apartment buildings with shared bathrooms where many working-class immigrants settled after arriving in New York, fresh off the boat from Europe. The museum re-creates the period look of three families’ homes. Moving, emotional, this place isn’t — like most museums — a celebration of wealth and power.

The Japan Society: I so love this place. The building has an interior garden and pond. Their current exhibition, of Japanese Art Deco, is fantastic — on until June 10. The block also holds the UN’s church, a stunning 1960s period piece right next door.

The Neue Galerie: I’m crazy for Secessionist art, which is what you’ll find here in an exquisite Beaux Arts mansion. Have a coffee or lunch in its lovely Cafe Sabarsky and read a newspaper tucked into one of the classic wooden reading rods. Heaven! (pronounced Noy-uh Galerie)

New-York Historical Society. Check out their current exhibition — on beer-making in the state, with samples at the end! — on until September 2. Here’s a review of it.

Stores

Bergdorf Goodman: Such gorgeous stuff. (The Men’s store is across the street) The Fifth floor is marginally more affordable. Great shoe department. Eat in the cafe and sit in one of their adorable balloon chairs with the ladies-who-lunch. Elegant, old-school, fantastic views.

Macy’s: Still has wooden escalators. This place is enormous and exhausting, but offers a tremendous selection. Its red star on every shopping bag is a tribute to R.H. Macy, the former 19th. century whaler who had a red star tattooed on his hand before going into the retail biz.

Who doesn’t need a pop-up ES Building and a few taxis?

J. Crew: Not a New York company, but well-loved by the classicists/preppies among us. Cardigans, ballet flats, great shirts and T-shirts in the softest of cottons. The flagship at 44th and Madison is worth a stop. Men and women’s clothing.

Chelsea Market: This converted biscuit factory at 15th. and 10th Avenue is now an afternoon’s worth of fun: fantastic food shops, bakeries, florists, chocolate, a bookstore, a flea market. Love this place!

Aedes de Venustas: If you love exotic and unusual fragrances, this is not to be missed. Christopher Street has lots of lovely shops and this one offers brands you’ve never heard of. (No idea how to pronouce this one!)

Grand Central Station: This glorious Beaux Arts building, from 1905, has a brilliant turquoise curved ceiling with the constellations painted on it in gold. It’s where commuter trains arrive from New York and Connecticut. Renovated in the 1990s, it now houses a terrific array of shops and an excellent food court downstairs with Italian, Mexican and Indian food, among others. Posman Books is a fantastic indie bookshop; Cursive offers lovely gifts and Papyrus has gorgeous stationery. Try the Junior’s cheesecake. Yum!

Paul Stuart: OMG. Stroll through, quietly humming “If I were a rich man”….Triple-ply cashmere in jewel colors, gorgeous jackets, shirts, shoes. I want it all. An affordable piece are their knotted silk cuff-links. Men’s mostly, some women’s.

Brooks Brothers: I’ve been shopping at B-squared since I used to smuggle their cotton shirts back into Canada. Classic, great quality, this is an old-school piece of New York. Nothing is wildly fashionable, but the look is elegant and understated. You can find almost anything you need here, from a great-looking umbrella with a bamboo handle to a dopp kit to a silk scarf or a polo shirt for your 8-year-old nephew. Men,women, kids.

Tiffany: Oh, all right. I never go there because the tourist crowds are insane. But the place is gorgeous and the upper floors offer more affordable options. A sterling Tiffany keyring, $125, is a pretty cool souvenir.

ABC Carpet and Home: Not cheap, but well worth a visit, if only to the main floor. Lots of lovely items, from candles to stationery to china.

Edith Machinist. Go! One of the city’s best vintage stores, on Rivington Street in Nolita. Tons of great shoes, boots and purses. I scored a silk Genny dress (from the 1980s) for $180 five years ago…That was a bloody fortune in my world, but I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of it. Love this place.

Fishs Eddy: So fun! Pick up some glassware or a platter decorated with New York designs. Cheap, great quality.

C. O. Bigelow Apothecary.  If you can’t find it here, you don’t want it. Founded in 1838, it offers lots of great fragrances, Roger & Gallet soaps, Marvis toothpaste, even lovely jewelry and headbands. But no photos allowed! The staff is a little ferocious, but go anyway.

Porto Rico Coffee & Tea. I never fail to leave PR without a pound of Earl Grey tea or a mug or some allsorts or a pound ($9.99) of freshly-ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice coffee. Huge burlap sacks overflow with coffee beans and enormous battered tea tins line the walls. Pick up an iced cappuccino 0r, as I did this weekend, a fab string bag for your goodies, in a rainbow of colors, for a big…$5. Best part? Two large benches outside to sit on and watch Bleecker street parade by. This place has been in biz for 105 years. I hope it lasts another 105 more!

Don’t miss this one!

Yaso. Most stores in pricy Soho come and go with lightning speed — this one has been here since the 1980s. Women’ clothing only, the style is European, edgy, minimal, in linen, wool, silk. Clothing in neutrals: gray, black, cream, brown, tan with some great jewelery and scarves. Be prepared to spend — you won’t find much less than $175-350+ but these are investment pieces you’ll wear and enjoy for years to come.

Global Table. Run! If you love beautiful glasses, dishes, trays, anything tabletop.

Here’s a list of 38 indie stores here, 13 of which are in Brooklyn, from RackedNY. The list is brand-new. I have to confess, I don’t think I’ve been to any of them…But I’m not a huge shopper, have very specific taste and am larger than a size 12, which probably means a lot of their stuff isn’t for me. But accessories, yes…

Choos? Chuck Taylors? Doc Martens? What’s Your Style Tribe?

In behavior, business, culture, design, Fashion, Style, women, work on December 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm
Distinctive yellow stitching on Doc Martens shoes.

Docs! Image via Wikipedia

As we head into 2011 — and the publication of my second book, “Malled; My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio, April 2011) — I’m seriously re-thinking how I dress, knowing media interviews and speaking events are soon to fill my calendar. As I wrote in the book, a memoir of selling clothing in a suburban mall, working with men and women 20 to 30 years younger whose looks were so different from my own reminded me weekly how differently we each choose to present ourselves to the wider world.

I typically go for classic, European-inflected choices: a few Hermes silk carres, brown suede Ferragamo loafers, triple-ply cashmere cardigans, gold or silver jewelry, leavened and quirked with bits of vintage, like sky blue suede gloves or a fab ’40s black mohair hat. (Thank heaven for my secret source consignment shops!)

I prefer navy, camel, gray and cream to black, New York’s official uniform. Prints? Not so much.

adore accessories. Especially when you’re on a tight budget, as I’ve been in recent years, mixing it up with fab, affordable accessories can keep you looking and feeling au courant.

My most consistent style signifier is a scarf or muffler, whether silver-shot ash gray ($38, Ann Taylor) or the four crinkled silk ones I bought years ago at Banana Republic (cream, brilliant pink, chocolate brown, ashes of roses.) I buy them long and wide enough that they also work as sashes or shawls. I have scarves of vintage Victorian paisley wool and embroidered silk and modern pieces like the looped circles of burgundy wool I bought from a Paris street vendor.

Once, desperate to finish off a black-tie outfit (Carolina Herrera-esque white cotton shirt and teal silk taffeta wide skirt), I fished out a silk net scarf, in bottle green, I’d bought decades earlier in the Paris flea market. Parfait!

I still have, somewhere, the black suede Doc Marten lace-ups I bought in a London flea market. They are super-comfortable, classic, indestructible. But I haven’t worn them in years. I was feeling snoozy and boring, so I recently took, for me, a huge style risk and snapped up a pair of taupe suede lace-up boots made by Seychelles, edgier than anything I’ve bought in years.

I love them! (And was amused indeed to see a recent photo of Lee Ann Rimes wearing the same boots. ) What a hoot! Especially since she’s young enough to be my daughter.

I liked the editor’s letter in the December issue of Elle:

If there’s anything that expresses individual style, it’s a woman’s accessories — shoes, bags, jewelry. Lots of it? Pared down? Heels with miniskirts? Or maybe the soon to be ubiquitous long flowy dresses — with Doc Martens?…How a woman puts together her accessories is a delicate and surprisingly communicative blend of taste, class (belonging or aspiration to), politics (nose ring, anyone?), career and mind-set. Most women don’ consider what they’re signifying when they jump into their 14-centimeter black YSL Tribute Sandals or sturdy low-heeled pumps as they’re running out the door in the morning, because all of those notion of class, etc. are baked into their choices in the first place.

When you present yourself to public view, what messages are you sending?

Shop On (Size 16) Sister! British Retailer Debenhams Puts Larger Mannequins Right Where They Belong — In Their Windows

In business, women on February 22, 2010 at 11:20 am
Debenhams

Image by zoonabar via Flickr

Curvy women, get out your wallets! An upscale British retailer, Debenhams, has decided to put size 16 mannequins in its windows – instead of the usual size 10 — acknowledging the reality that, as in the U.S., the average woman shopper is a size 14 or 16.

If I lived in the U.K., I’d vote with my legs and my pocketbook and head straight to Debenhams to thank them for their intelligence. I was furious to discover the other day, (having driven to the mall and already paid, as it demands, to park there), that women’s clothing retailer Ann Taylor no longer stocks anything larger than a size 12 in their stores.

J. Crew. has been doing that for years, relegating the pooch-y crowd, no matter the size of their pocketbooks, to their limited catalogs and on-line options. Ann Taylor was — like Talbots — one of the few national chains who get the basic fact that women of all sizes want and need well-made clothing made of lovely, elegant fabrics like wool, silk and linen, not just disposable junior-style nylon crap from H & M.

Just because a woman is bigger than designers or retailers want — and maybe she wants — doesn’t mean she can spend her time in sweats. Retailers who sell lovely clothing to women over a size 12 earn repeat sales, no matter if the woman remains a 14 or 16, or slims down to a more “acceptable” 12, 10 or 8. “In the meantime”, for those trying to lose weight, should not add the punition of finding few attractive choices for the lives women lead right now, not six or 12 or 18 months later after they’ve gotten thin(ner.)

The two Ann Taylor skirts I liked in the store were $90 each, for simple gray or black wool. Add to the insult of being shoved to the retail margins a price-point out of reach for many women in this recession and Ann Taylor’s CEO really needs to re-think this misguided decision.

All women need elegant, flattering clothes that fit — not only when they are a size that stores find flattering to their “brand image.” Women with big(ger) bums also contribute to your bottom line.

Do Your Clothes Match Your Job?

In business, Fashion on January 15, 2010 at 9:54 am
2008 Taipei In Style - Outdoor Fashion Show: A...

Image via Wikipedia

What happens when you leave behind one career, and its style tribe, for another?

The idea of  “dressing for success”, certainly for women, is one complicated by the invisible but lethal tripwires of fashion faux pas. Come for a job interview, in NYC media, wearing sheer, flesh-toned pantyhose, let alone plain black pumps, and you might as well go home. But show up for work in the boys’ clubs of banking, law or finance in peep-toe pumps and you’ve marked yourself as Stupid.

A dress code of any sort is something of a risible notion for most freelance writers, for whom switching from PJs to sweats is a typical fashion decision as we start the workday, commuting from bed to desk. Of course we dress up for meetings and media events; last year I was on CNN and BBC television, and now have my go-to outfit ready, a cashmere turtleneck and black blazer.

I hate summer because it’s so much easier to look really, really bad.

In my three newspaper staff jobs, it was clear from the start what the style was — “Fashion? Feh! I’m too busy seeking Truth.” Or some equally tedious variation.

It was like high school all over agan, the peer pressure to look like the cool kids. At the Globe and Mail, Canada’s respected and prestigious national daily (then the only one), one woman reporter wore knee socks, sandals and a skirt. Um, seriously? But the larger message was a good one — get the story first and best, and who cares what you’re wearing?

At the Montreal Gazette, to my horror and disappointment, it was all about the low-cut sweaters and short skirts. Ugh. One young woman wore long dresses cut so tightly you could practically read the label on her panties. At the Daily News, it was back to whatever-world. Your best pick was anything you could run fast in or do a ten-hour stakeout in 80 degree heat.

I’ve never, thank God, worked in a place where Manolos or Choos or Chanel were de rigueur. I love to dress up and to dress well, but not as a daily, I’m-paying-for-it uniform, the rules unspokenly enforced by chilly gazes.

From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

For most people, it isn’t easy to purge a closet, especially when it’s full of items that were once meaningful. Christos Garkinos, co-owner of high-end Los Angeles consignment shop DecadesTwo, says he often has to coach people as they work up the gumption to relinquish items from their former selves to his boutique. And he often gets calls days later, when a client regrets having let go of an item.

One client, he says, sat on her bed and shivered with emotion as he sorted through her wardrobe. “I actually would have to stop and give her reassuring hugs and have her give ‘permission’ to let her clothes go,” he says.

People often feel the need to reinvent themselves when they reach midlife or the years before retirement, says Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist in West Allenhurst, N.J. It’s common for people like Ms. Kan to feel that they’ve compromised too much of themselves for their job or their marriage, and to want to rectify that by starting afresh.

I suspect that the pace of change in technology and business also contributes to people’s sense that it’s time to change skins. Our jobs and industries keep moving, morphing, and disappearing, creating opportunities for image changes—and the fear that we’ll need to change, whether we like it or not.

Despite the lure of letting go, Dr. Holstein suggests avoiding hasty decisions to leave a job or home or even to toss out significant portions of your closet. And she warns against purging photos and mementos—items that can never be replaced if your feelings change later. “The average person has a natural pull to stay connected to who they were,” she says.

Have you changed how you dress as your work or career has changed? How?

Big Girls Dress Up, Too — Ashley Falcon's Plus-Sized Fashion Advice

In Fashion, Media, women on December 14, 2009 at 8:07 am
NEW YORK - JANUARY 31:  Writer Candace Bushnel...

Joanna Coles, (r), big girls' champion. Image by Getty Images via Daylife

How do big(ger) girls get dressed up for the holidays? Ashley Falcon — setting a new standard for women’s magazines’ embrace of size 16+ — dishes in this month’s Marie Claire.

Anyone who reads women’s magazines knows the typical beauty drill: women who are deemed beautiful only come in size 0-6, tops. Usually Russian or Slavic, with thighs so thin they look like arms. There will no editorial discussion of, or acknowledgement of, how very few fashionable options exist for women over a size 14, now the U.S. average — let alone real, first-person tips on how to dress attractively and comfortably.

Most designers simply refuse to make their lovely clothes in sizes over 10 or 12. J. Crew added 14’s a while back but you’ll only find their size 16’s on-line. Fatties, ugh! Falcon, who admits she weighs 220, even names the source of her black boyfriend blazer featured in the current issue — Walmart.

Here’s her blog and her list of 12 websites for plus-size fashion.

Her confidence is remarkable, after growing up in the Cuban community of Miami and surviving the vicious stiletto-stabbing hothouse of New York City’s fashionistas.  Props for shaking up that snobby, dictatorial, butt-hating world to Ashley and to Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles, a Briton (married to Peter Godwin, author of one of my favorite books, When A Crocodile Eats The Sun, a memoir of Zimbabwe.)

'I Am Not A Size Two And I Have A Complicated Life': Donna Karan Dishes

In business, Fashion, Style, women on October 12, 2009 at 7:08 am
Donna Karan at the premiere of I Am Because We...

Image via Wikipedia

Bless you, Donna Karan!

Few designers, even those still at the top of their game and the food chain, are (as) honest about who’s really buying their clothes and what we need most when we open our closets. Pick up any fashion magazine and it’s praying-mantis 15-year-olds from the Urals stomping down the runways in six-inch-plus heels, wearing clothes that leave seasoned editors grasping for kind adjectives.

Women in their 40s, 50s or beyond, some fighting a meno-pooch and hot flashes, have no desire to wear costly clothes cut for anorexic teens. And very few 22 year-olds, even 32 year-olds, actually have the spare coin for unforgiving four or five-figure designer frocks.

“The designer business and the media spend so much time paying homage to about 7 percent of the market,” NPD analyst Marshal Cohen, tells W magazine. “That’s where all the action goes. But did everyone decide they want to dress like a 25-year-old? I don’t think so.”

Any woman who’s not a size 2 — and the average American woman is a 12-14 — knows the purgatory of clothes-shopping for items that are gorgeous, well-made and offered in good fabric like thick cashmere, soft cotton or crisp organza, at a price point less than a Manhattan mortgage payment.

Women play many roles: mom, wife, lover, boss, athlete, traveler, public speaker — each of which we want to look terrific for. Karan’s life, like many accomplished women her age and her size: “stretches from the boardroom to dinner to traveling…feeling sexy while still feeling appropriate is really important.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cheap Chic Reigns at Consignment Shops

In business, women on September 20, 2009 at 9:21 am
Left to Right Robert, Anne, Bent and Mary Ball

Image via Wikipedia

If you love gorgeous clothes but have little disposable income, very few retail stores can satisfy both your yearnings for triple-ply cashmere or glove-soft leather and a clear fiscal conscience. Thus the enduring allure of upscale consignment shops. While every fashion magazine these days advises “shopping your closet”, you still need a few great pieces in there to work with.

Throwaway clothes like those pumped out by Kohl’s, Target, H & M and Zara — wildly popular, as many of them are attractive, on-trend, flattering and cheap — just don’t fit the bill. The reason their clothes are so cheap is a ruthless focus on cutting out every possible cost: cheap fabric, less of it, fewer details, no room in the hem or seams for alternations. If your heart beats a little faster for the wit or originality or interesting colors or textures or details offered by French or Japanese or Italian or British designers, of whatever decade, you’re simply SOL.

Unless you can find a great consignment shop. It’s not difficult — fish where the fish are. Rich women, whose closets overflow with clothing and accessories they may never even wear once, like to have cash to go buy more stuff they may never wear, which is where upscale consignment shops perform their crucial link between manicured fingers eager to ditch that tired old (to them, maybe only last season) Chanel or Lanvin and yours, itching to acquire a luscious new bag or pair of shoes or interview jacket.

However counter-intuitive when your money’s tight, you need to head to the nearest ritzy town or neighborhood where these shops often cluster. You never know what you’ll find, so you need to be both open-minded and ready to buy at once if you spot a treasure. In addition to my two favorite Manhattan shops, Ina (15 years in business, with five locations) and Edith Machinist, I’ve found three stores in one wealthy town that have supplied me with some of the best — and most-complimented, hardest-wearing — additions to my wardrobe: a thick rust-colored cashmere cardigan (Neiman-Marcus), olive suede slingbacks (a favorite French label); yellow leather sandals (Prada); sturdy brown leather sandals (Robert Clergerie.) At Edith Machinist, I snagged a Genny silk dress (big ’80s label) whose price, almost $200, was by far the most I’ve spent on a consignment piece. I hesitated but went for it; comfortable, versatile, flattering, I’ve worn it in every season since, to chic parties, to Paris, to events.

I seek out great consignment shops when I travel. I love Secondi, a 27-year-old D.C. institution and Courage My Love, a Toronto landmark not as much upscale as quirky and fun, always offering some amazing little nothing — like the silk gypsy blouses made of vintage silk scarves I found there for $29 apiece a few years back. Here’s some good advice on how to shop this way.

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