Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gift It: Liner Note

I'm not a spluger. I'm a thrifty girl through and through. In fact, the only way I usually acquire spendy items is if I receive them as gifts. For instance, I would never think to drop $25 on an eyeliner. I would be searching the aisle of the drugstore for a cheapo alternative thinking, "Why would anyone spend $25 on a black pencil when you can get this one for a dollar?" I'll tell you why. The quarter-of-a-hundo black Waterproof Dior Crayon Eyeliner that I received as a gift a few years back went on so smooth and easy, and with such inky blackness that I couldn't believe my eyes (or how great they looked).

Now I love to give little luxuries as gifts. Here's the strategy: Indulge in small items with relatively higher ticket prices for a big impact, and love the smiles you get in return. As a side note, that glorious eye pencil lasted me a nice long time. It was the gift that just kept giving (thanks Tuhanny!).

Get your loved ones a Dior Crayon Eyeliner from

Drawn Together

Artist Marlene McCarty has been using the effect of transparent clothing in her billboard-sized pen and pencil drawings for years. Mostly the sheerness has been a way for her to explore the burgeoning, taboo sexuality of her young female subjects--all of whom are notorious criminals. McCarty rips their stories from newspapers and court records and turns them into disturbing works of art, marked by enticing, pretty-girl portraits accompanied by detailed textual accounts of the subjects' vile crimes. For their latest issue, V Magazine presents works commissioned by curator Dominic Sidhu that marry McCarty's transparent style with Rodarte's sheer, webbed, layered dresses. The resulting drawings of a pair of Rodarte-decked women becoming one with each other and their dresses are at once unnerving and beautiful.

View the series in the latest issue of V Magazine on stands now (with Sasha Fierce on the cover!), or check them out on V's site.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How, She Does It

The term "stylist" gets tossed around so loosely these days that anyone with a credit card and working pair of eyes thinks they can fit the bill. However, true stylists are artists on par with creme de la creme designers and fashion photographers. They are the glue of a photoshoot, marrying the model and the clothes with the photog's vision to create perfect images. Jane How is an example of a super-stylist. Her work has bettered the pages of the best magazines in the business. She has a longstanding relationship with I-D and is the go-to-girl for many a top snapper. Here's a few examples of her work and why she keeps getting great gigs:

I can't even begin to imagine where one finds a giant lion-door-knocker-bra, or how you can go from creating color-crazed outfits with cartoon bathing suits and platforms, to the softest combo of Kate Moss and a flowered bed spread. I'd love to tag along and see How.

You can view a selection of Jane How's work, including all of the images above, at her agency Streeters London.

Model's Ink

More and more models are dipping into the ink well. With the days of nameless, faceless, blank-canvas-clothes-hangers way in the past, model citizens are more apt to express their wild sides without fear. Model Freja Beha has some of my favorite tattoos in the fashion biz. She's made quite the permanent mark.

"This Too Shall Pass" on Freja's right arm.

Her neck will Float on.

"This World Today" wrapped around her right wrist.

She actually has quite a few more tats. Soon enough it will be radical to not have tattoos. Until then, let your freak flag fly and get some ink. Just be sure to follow Freja's lead and make it pretty.

Click images above for source information.

Missing the 'Mat

Although I hate doing laundry, I have a soft spot for laundromats. There's something meditative about watching clothing spin in the barrels of washers and dryers. I also love interactive public spots where you are likely to meet the neighbors. I'm at my parent's place this Holiday weekend and as much as I'm loving taking advantage of the coinless spin cycle in the basement, I'm actually missing my weekly 'mat visit. What's to miss? Machines, seats, and bottles: Oh, my.

I can almost smell the dryer sheets.

Click any image for source information.

Gift It: Turn It On

I've been a big fan of dressing up light switch plates for years. Switchplates are an often overlooked element of a room. I've decked mine out in everything from handmade papers to old photos to spray paint and silhouette stickers. Here's a readymade decoupaged switchplate that any girl worth her glamour will love.

For $10, you can get a pair and light up your room before you even flip the switch. Click the pic for ordering info.

The Comeback Kid

You can't beat Liza Minnelli stalking the Cabaret stage as Sally Bowles. I first saw this movie as a freshman in college when my friend Christiana had an impromptu showing in her dorm room. It was love at first sight. The lingerie-inspired costumes? The pixie Bowles cut? Liza's lashes? Green nail polish and hedonistic pansexual characters? Loved it. In honor of Liza's new show opening next week in the big city, take a trip back in time to the Kit Kat Klub for a rousing rendition of "Mein Herr".

If only I could book a flight to 1930's Bob Fosse Berlin. Does Travelocity offer time travel deals yet? They need to get on that.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Fabric of Their Lives

Portraits of Malians by Seydou Keïta.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting a special exhibit entitled The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End. It explores the storytelling aspects of fabrics in African life. There are people who can read an African garment like a biography book. One look at a certain print, and a trained eye can tell you the wearer's status, heritage, and so much more. The exhibit showcases textile samples, fabric-based art, paintings, and photographed portraits. The show's portraits shine as unbelievably gorgeous records of proud people.

Pictured with their prized possessions and loved ones, the subjects of featured photographer Seydou Keïta's black and white portraits are supremely stunning. By creating scenes for his sitters with their own radios, cars, musical instruments, friends, and family members, Keita showed the unique personalities and ways of life of the newly financially secure urban elite who commissioned his portraits. They were products of a rare period of prosperity in Malia beginning in the late 1940s and early '50s, and they dressed to impress.

Keïta's work in the exhibition is not to be missed. If by some chance you need more convincing than the samples pictured above, take a fresh look at wonder-director Mark Romanek's 1997 video for Janet Jackson's "Got Til It's Gone," which directly and beautifully quotes Seydou's iconic imagery.

The amount that I love that video is actually too much for words.

Click images for source information.

Gift It: Hand Bag

My usual Cheap Thrill finds will be morphed into Gift It items for the holiday season. I'm going to comb the internets (I will never get tired of that four second YouTube clip) for gift ideas that come in at around $20, but don't have that penny pincher vibe. Here's your first Gift It:

I just stumbled on the art of Jason Polan via a clever orientation video on the newly relaunched Criterion website. I checked out his website and found this canvas Hand Bag. It can be yours, or your family and friends', for a Jefferson and two Washingtons. Nice.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you have much to be grateful for.

1911 Vintage Postcard from

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Closet Case: Anthea Gray

My friend Anthea is that rare combination of stunning, stylin', and completely sweet. Her smile's got serious wattage and if I had a dollar for ever time I saw her and said, "Oh my god! That is amazing! Where did you get that?" I'd be bailing out some large financial institutions right now. I'm so honored that she agreed to be my very first Closet Case.

The thing I've always admired about Anthea's style is its mix. She has a knack for combining an eclectic array of items in one outfit and still looking stunningly pulled together. And, she always looks very "Anthea." Her unique style is a result of not following fashion too closely. She rarely reads fashion magazines, avoiding the self consciousness that comes with staring at idealized images of beauty. Instead she trusts her instincts and gathers pieces that she loves, like collecting objects of art.

A collection of necklaces from (l to r) a vintage market in Japan, a Brooklyn thrift, and the Soho Flea Market, and an Hermes Cuff.

Her collection of accessories is impressive in it's international pedigree. Her family is full of former service men and her mother was a captain in the navy who collected bangles, bags, and belts from far away locales like Okinawa and Amsterdam that she's since handed down to her daughter.

A charming vintage golden snake ring and a pair of slick green flats from Sigerson Morrison.

A golden bird-clasped belt from Brooklyn's Epaulet and an obi style belt from Amsterdam.

Anthea's clothes are mostly scored a bit closer to home. A happy resident of Broolyn's Carroll Gardens neighborhood, Anthea makes full use of her local resources. She frequents the cool, indie stores on Smith Street and whatever she doesn't find near home she scoops up at flea markets, on travels, or in classic discount stores like Loehmann's. Her favorite splurge spot is Bloomingdales in Soho, but mostly she keeps her shopping trips cheap and infrequent.

It's all in the details: a ruffled collar on a purple shirt from Epaulet, a lace-up closure on a skirt from Philly.

A gorgeous embroidered coat by Tracey Reese Plenty.

Her biggest fashion tips? Number one: Hold on to what you've got. She's had many of the fresh looking pieces she sports for years, just tweaking how she wears them to make them look new. Number two: Be yourself. For Anthea, fashion is self-expression. She loves seeing kids who've obviously dressed themselves, with a crazy mix of patterns, textures, and colors. To her they look free, and aren't yet afraid to show the world who they are and what they like. Well, in that case Anthea's still a kid at heart. She's definitely not afraid to be her beautiful, unique self.

Even Anthea's super cute dog Dolce is well-dressed, check out her blingy collar.

Thanks Anthea (and Dolce!) for showing me your goods!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Feature: Closet Case

I'm starting a new feature here on Iwanttowearit. It's called Closet Case. No, I'm not outing people; I'm taking you into the wonderful closets of the well-dressed. The first thing I always want to ask people with amazing style is: "Where did you get that?" The next question is: "Can you take me home with you so that I can rifle through your closet and ask you a ton of questions about all of the cool stuff you have?" Needless to say, my better judgement and aversion to collecting restraining orders has always kept me from asking question number two. Not anymore! I'm going to risk it for you guys. Hopefully my charm and my new business cards will keep me out of the slammer. Either way it will be a fashion-fueled adventure.

Do you know someone who's closet you'd like to see? Think people would love to see yours? Drop me a line and I'll see what I can do!

Keep it Simple

Every time I go on to Garance Dore I am struck by the amazingly beautiful women that stare back from the France-based blog's posts.

It just confirms my theory that Europe is the promised land of milk and honey skin, clear eyes, and gorgeous hair. I've studied these pictures and wondered, what is it? What makes these women so striking? I think it's the simplicity, the less is more aspect of their beauty. So little makeup leaves so much room for their gorgeousness to shine. I know these women have great skin and a prettiness that most certainly runs in their genes but, we can all take a tip from them and start underdoing it. If you've got good enough, leave it alone.

Images: Garance Dore

When Times Get Tough, the Tough Get Sewing

I grew up with a mother who had some serious sewing skills. She made each one of the Halloween costumes in this here photo:

That's me as Rainbow Brite (with a handmade orange yarn wig!), my younger brother Franklin as a tiger cub, my brother Jason as the most phenomenal E.T. with a glowing orange finger, and my sister Tracey the cheerleader. My Mom (that's her behind me) sewed all of those. Looking at this photo kind of revives the theory that I formulated around the time that this pic was taken: My Mom has magic powers.

Unfortunately the sewing gene skipped a generation. For all of my craftiness, I lack a certain finess when it comes to needles and thread. But, my belt is tightening (money not fat!) and sewing is one of those skills that could be very helpful for the bank account. You know, buy a girl a dress and she has an outfit for one night, teach her to sew and she can make fabulous things inexpensively for many nights. Yeah, something like that.

Where to start? With the basics. I was looking for a good intro to sewing class but if I had the $350 they were charging I'd be knee deep in retail racks right now. So instead I created my own sewing curriculum.

I'm going to Sew U! Built by Wendy designer and '90s guitar strap hero Wendy Mullin has penned a how-to book that covers all of the basics of sewing. It even comes with three simple patterns to get me going. I'll supplement the text with video instruction on YouTube. Then I'll graduate to sewing Built by Wendy's more complex patterns. Perhaps my term project will be a winter coat. Or, a cute as anything shirt.

I'll get to pick out my own fabrics and assuming that the garments hold up, I'll be able to pass down some special items to my future bamabinas that won't have Forever 21 labels in them. Also, this will be a great way to spend my time, not my money.

Get yourself a sewing machine, and let's start our own sewing circle. What do you say?

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Fine Feathered Friend

Talya B. is one of my dearest friends. We met in Paris. How platonically romantic, right? We were both Art History students and when we weren't running around the Louvre, we were dropping euros in shops all over the city. But not too many as one of our bonding points is that we are both absurdly thrifty.

Talya is my little rainbow. She loves color and knows how to use it. This weekend she looked smashingly gorgeous in a fuchsia feathered headband. Worn with neutrals and a touch of pink lipstick, it was marvelous. She proved that the feather head piece is a wearable trend. Here are some you can pick up for yourself:

Click any of the above images to get your plumage on and strut it like a proud peacock. That's right.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Know You Rock When...

You know why I love M.I.A.? Well, there are many reasons, but for today I love her because she can sport anything--even a big ol' baby belly--like it's the thing to rock. I mean I almost want a bump of my own as an outfit accessory after seeing her in this photo. Ok, ok, not really. Almost.

The other reason I'm loving on her today? The above photo of Ms. M.I.A. with the boys from MGMT is from GQ's Men of the Year issue which hits newsstands today. She's obviously not a man. That's how cool she is. She defies gender. She is the man.

Need more convincing? This'll do it:

I apologize that you had to watch that crazy man/child in the glittery golden hat, but M.I.A. teaching kids to dance is worth it.

Image: Mark Seliger for GQ

Swinging '60s

This is too good. A tour of London clothing shops in the '60s? It's fashion heaven.

This video really made me feel like I boarded a time machine with the dial set to swinging. The dancing at the end is fantastic.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

If You Like/Then You'll Love: Doll Charms

A while ago I went on a window shopping trip at spendy scenester spot Henri Bendel. This was as much an exercise in zen-like passive resistance as it was an education in pretty little expensive things. When I was there I was particularly struck by a line of charming doll charm necklaces by Servane Gaxotte. With movable body parts, tiny fabric outfits, and accessories of their own, the pretty pendants were quirky and completely covetable. Then I saw the price. I'm sure they are handcrafted lovingly and made of solid precious things, but at upwards of $300, they were not coming home with me unless I was gonna go all Winona on Bendels.

So, I left the store with that old adage of "it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all" ringing in my mind. Fast forward to today when I was perusing the lovely goods of online vintage (and vintage-like) purveyor Modcloth and found this:

It's a $15.99 facsimile of the Bendel's beauty. I know that intellectual property lawyers could have a field day with this one, and that the bargain-priced pendant is maybe a little less delicate, but I'm sold. Shopping lesson of the day? Resist and persist.

Whether you want the real deal or the steal, click the images above for more details.

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