Archive for the ‘Fashion Forward’ Category

Hello dear readers! I have been woefully negligent with providing updates on the projects and pursuits of the Elle Street Inn. I recently was traveling a bit, and then got a touch of the plague, or flu if you prefer. Have no fear, I’ve not forgotten — and will soon let you enjoy the “After” pictures of the Inn, or my baking list (bread, pasta, &c.).

In the meantime, here is a recent glorious find…

As I was again sniffing round my bookshelf for a tempting read I came upon two fascinating books:

1. Three Short Novels of Dostoevsky, The Double, Notes from the Underground, & The Eternal Husband
2. The Mode in Dress & Home, by Dulcie G. Donovan

The first book will provide some good evening reading, but the second book is a little treasure of a book copyrighted 1935 — and part of my maternal grandfather’s collection. This is a little textbook for high-school girls, on the proper mode of all things dress and home related. After glancing over the table of contents, I immediately realized there was much for me to learn from this little text. The activities have little checks and notes on them, so I imagine this may have belonged to one of my dear great-mama’s who taught school.

I started reading the first few chapters and was delighted to find very practical, yet timeless wisdom. So. I decided to share with you the true art of a clothing budget. In chapter 3, it instructs each girl to assess the total income of the family, divide by the number of the household, and create a budget based on her portion. Here is a sample of that page, note how one must account for clothing owned, needed &c. As well as the percentages allowed for each portion of clothing.

The book recommends that a family household ought to spend no more than 15% on clothing. This little fact provides some hard data to allow us to examine our own budgets. When I was single I spent roughly 6-7% of my net income on clothing (outer clothing, underclothing, footwear, and accessories). Thankfully many of those purchases were wise, and now my clothing expenditures are roughly less than 1% each month. Mind you! The standard of fabulous has not gone down, just the percentage of $$ going out 🙂 As the book recommends, and I do agree, it is vitally important to evaluate the amount of money one chooses to spend on clothing, as well as the types of clothing one is willing to buy.
“A well-planned clothing budget, if carried out successfully, will help you to have more and better clothes for the same amount of money.”

A few tips that aren’t in the book, but I’ve found to work well for me over the years:
1. Have the core staples in your closet, and be willing to spend a decent amount for these items. By staples, I mean something that will stay in style, fit and wear well for at least 2-3 years. For me, this refers to coats, light jackets, skirts, & dress shirts.
2. Spend a very little bit on those delightful trendy items that will be oh-so-fun, and that will steal the compliments at a party or event. For example, a cute shirt that is the seasons color, a scarf or accessory on sale. These are items, that can be easily given away after a season of enjoyment. These are also items that show little or no wear — like a scarf of a sassy pair of shades.

Next chapter is on shopping wisely! Periodically I’ll post a little tid-bit from each chapter.

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Well, my designer instincts have taken hold once more. I was in the process of making another little lawn skirt, like my other little creation…you may recall. But, I awoke one morning with the dashing idea to add a little buttoned-up-the-back sleeveless top, and make it into a dress. The fabric is so cheery and sweet, it just needed some little buttons or something more vintage than a skirt could afford (even if I did shower it with chiffon hem flowers). This is the fabric that spoke so sweetly early yesterday morning. The accent will literally be a snip and hair of a trim around the collar and cuffs.

Now, here are the updates to a similar dress I found on ModCloth. AND, while I’m at it, let me tell you: If you need anything lively and unique in the clothing dept (to spice up a winter wasteland wardrobe), I would check out MC before I hit up any other store. They have the most superb collection of beautiful clothing & precious decor. (& the store was founded by highschool sweethearts, awww!) Learn more? ModCloth.

So. With the structured inspiration, here are my adaptations. The skirt is already cut and stitched, so I just have snip and whip up a bodice.

…and then of course stitch the two together. Wish me luck.
Oh, and dear friends. It’s only 14 days till Valentines Day! If you’d like to print and snip vintage valentines check back soon 🙂 OR, if you’d like some fabulous new Valentine’s Metro/Tube/Subway Art, check out Aunty’s mod take on it.

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Busy Tuesday! Barely had time to tweet! But the birds have been snipped (will be strung today!). Thanks to some sweet little pint-sized helpers. If those little felt birdies could talk, they would have many giggles to share.

In addition to snipping birds out of felt, one of my favorite, instant gratification projects, is to transform tired (but great conditioned) shoes into new visions of loveliness. Did you ever read the part in Little Women, where Amy paints her boots blue? Jo lets her secret out when they are visiting society friends. Amy just about died with mortification. These days its not so terrible to repaint and refinish shoes. But every time I do, I think of poor little Amy March.

Here is the before — after I removed the wretched gold squiggles.

And now, with little black satin bows, sewn neatly in place.

I really wouldn’t be able to resist these…but alas, not my size 😦

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I regularly get emails requesting advice on what to buy to spruce up a dying wardrobe or how to make a dress less scandalous (wretched ill fitting strapless) or even how to just hem those dang pants “so I look fab even though I don’t have legs like a model.” All these usually make their way in my inbox, with much humor and faux desperation. Most recently a friend emailed the following:

Ok, hun, it’s one of my fashion lows that I hit every 2-3 years. I feel like my wardrobe is so shabby and disorganized at this point that I don’t even know what to shop for. Sure I know what essentials I should have in the current fashion environment, but I don’t feel like anything I have would go with anything I buy, or that anything I buy would just accentuate the shabbiness of what I already own. I don’t feel like any of my shoes look right with any of my jeans. My standard tees look ok, and with a couple cute cardis they could probably be fine. Predictable and slightly boring, but normal and comfortable. It’s mostly the shoe and jean question. Like should I buy boots or new rocket dog type shoes. Everybody’s wearing boots, but I’m not sure I have the jeans and tops to pull them off without looking like I’m trying too hard. I really want to pull it together a bit, and I just don’t know how without putting a match to everything I have and dropping $150 at NY&Co, LOFT, and Nine West. I hate it when my ENTIRE wardrobe just decides to die all at once.

Can we have a phone date to rectify this before I commit even worse acts of fashion violence than I already have?”

I called her up and said babe! Whats the deal? At which point she’d analyzed her current clothing inventory, proposed 4 new outfits and identified what items were needed for each. Did she need my help. Haha, no 🙂 Just a bit of faux desperation all us women have at low moments on cold December Mondays. Here is a snap shot of what she proposed:

Outfit 1: Casual

Outfit 2: Classy

Outfit 3: Femme

Outfit 4: Artsy

I think she nailed it — using several key current pieces but keeping it in line with her style. I used the H&M Fashion Studio as always for my fashion dress-up needs.

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Was playing around with some tech yesterday to design outfits and pieces. This H&M “Fashion Studio” is pretty sweet. Was definitely enjoying playing dress up with the gorgeous brunette model, who definitely resembles Mrs. T 🙂 🙂

Here’s my outfit pick of the week. I love stripes and prints. Have for years, just ask my Mum.

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For many women, myself included, we find that once we get on the fashion wagon we get a little excited and then go slightly overboard, and then back again to the “whatever, whatever, white T and jeans.”

But, may I suggest that THAT is where we must press on and push forward.

I currently am wearing a fav outfit. Navy Cowlneck waffle cut shirt with sassy skinny jeans (skinny for me, “straight” for others and even beYOND skinny for some) and my bronze braid belt. Footwear: my old mocs from college (they really are the most comfy slippers, BUT not a Mrs. T approved fashion item).

Most women find that the changing of the seasons provides a sweet launch into the new and exciting, but occasionally the weather grossly mistreats us, throwing us back into the season we just left. That can be annoying, we have the gorgeous fall booties ready to go, the skarves in hand, the wool socks, the leggings and then WHAM! an 80 degree sunny day. Where we all in jovial fun comment on how much we just loooove the sun, and are so glad to have a few more warm days. Dag gum it, I want FALL!

So, this adds to the whatever, I’ll just throw on this that and the next thing, whatever is clean. Blah.

Now. Going back to point 1. — Falling OFF the wagon. Do you fall off the wagon? What I mean, is this. When you arise and are selecting your outfit for the day (or if like me, in your working women days you laid out your clothes the night before), do you grab the same three shirts or same pair of pants/jeans? What makes them your favs? Sometimes favs are truly fabulous (like the navy shawl collar shirt I am currently wearing), but some really are not. The trick to not falling off the fash-wag is to purchase items that will be easy to pull out of your armoire and delightful to wear all day long, while STILL looking sweet fresh and above all else, a little sassy.

Let’s talk about sass for a moment. What is sass? It is the essential element to any woman’s ensemble. For example. Lovely friend with covet-able brown wavy hair shows up to church in demure LBD, but no no no, snatch a look at her bright teal strappy flat sandals. YES. So it should be with any outfit. It does not mean that you must have an ostentatious piece on each outfit, but you DO need a bit of sass to make you look you.

So, I would say that when you’re quite certain you’ve fallen off the wagon, do a little clothing inventory and figure out exactly what you already own that will make your outfit sass a bit 🙂

Here’s to weathering the Fall & never falling off the wagon.

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Gucci E-VENT

Although we all are excited about the new season, I find that there are times when I go stark raving mad over selecting just the right item. For example. Wednesday morning I was perusing (yes, really perusing) Overstock.com while waiting to check-in to my seat for the Frida Giannini’s Women’s Spring Summer 2011 in Milan on September 22nd, 2010 — GUCCI E-Vent, and I just went about crazy trying to find a pair of booties or a chunky sweater that would match my Autumn look. But no matter, we women all deal with this, so onward ho!

Now for the real news. The GUCCI E-Vent.

Rather interesting idea — allowing virtual attendees to experience these fashion events. I like it. Although I have to admit I was horrified when I read that my cam and mic were going to be used. ACK! The wifebeater would NOT be considered high-fashion, medium fashion, or even LOW-fashion. I promptly placed a pink envelop over my cam. DEAR ME.

Gucci had two predominant looks for Spring/Summer 2011. Simply Feather & Leather.

The dress collection really was quite magnificent. In the chat rooms everyone was oohing and aahing over the fabulous breakthrough style. I say not really. Overall the series was quite clever and fresh, but nothing that we haven’t seen before. Also feather seem the obvious choice simply by process of elimination. For with the ruffles & ribbon having strutted their stuff for three seasons, buttons having been a thing of the 02-05, the only way left to embellish is lace and feathers. Lace has already made its comeback gently throughout (though mostly with formal wear, because lace makes it formal). So all that is left in the milliners and designers toolbox is… feathers. So out they come. And not just on headbands.

This was my favorite dress. The neckline and length, even the cunning little pockets poked demurely at a natural hip line.

Favorite Dress

Few items to note about this outfit. Although the model has few curves (she wouldn’t be a model if she did!) we see that this dress provides a strikingly feminine figure. Note the sweep of the neckline creating sweet shoulders, then as mentioned before, the pockets provide the illusion of womanly hips, and give the general impression of the ever elegant hour glass figure.

Nothing new with the shoes. Simply a non-exceptional bootie, and a regular little strappy sandal (which I must say I saw a pair shockingly similar four weeks ago sported by a friend, Mrs. N.).

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