Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ugly UO Item of the Day: I Will Call Her "Xanadu"

I've never been a fan of asymmetry in clothing- it generally tries to be avant-garde, and then ends up looking sloppy, much like its cousin, the raw edge hem. Anyway, the point is, look at this horrible monstrosity.

This Lux One Shoulder Knit Dress is a total floppy, shapeless mess. It has way too much going on: one puffy sleeve, a tie belt, an oversized asymmetrical ruffle at the asymmetrical hem, and a color that Urban Outfitters describes as "Fuschia." (But let's be honest, it's more of an "Electric Xanadu Roller Skatin' Fuschia" if anything.)

It's really trashy and 80's looking, but you can tell they're trying to market it like it has some sort of subtle elegance. I mean, I guess. They're certainly not adding the gold Candies and wild frosted perm that we all know should be paired with this number. You know the model has some slouch boots on under there.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Don't Hate

I still can't believe Gwyneth got so trashed for this Zac Posen dress on the left at this past Oscars. Doesn't it seem like every time anyone strays from the strapless/satin and or glitter format ends up on the Worst Dresses List?

What's particularly annoying is that her hideous, ill-fitting, pepto Barbie prom dress is still cited as brilliant Oscar style, and this one has been almost roundly criticized.

Well, I, for one, love it. It's a little covered up, but not in the over-the-top way Hillary Swank's was two years ago. It has a refined 1930's feel, and creates a more curvy, statuesque figure than Ms. Paltrow actually has. Even the color, which is treading on dangerous ground as a pinky beige, is saturated enough not to wash her out and look really delicate and vintage-y. Add in the red lips and updated Veronica Lake hair, and I actually said, "Gwyneth Paltrow looks so pretty!" while watching the Oscars, even though technically I hate Gwyneth Paltrow and everything she stands for.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hangin' Around in my Huge T-Shirt

The look on the right is from a designer called Vanessa da Silva, who I guess is some sort of illustrator and designer. First of all, aside from being part of the horrible sack/80's trend I have been criticizing very harshly in this blog, this look also features the trend of artists collaborating with designers by sticking their artwork on t-shirts. Granted, this is a bit more than a t-shirt, but a lot of the stuff really is just designs printed on beefy tee's for $130. I resent this, because it lacks innovation in terms of style- anyone can print a design on a t-shirt- it doesn't make you a designer.

Personally, I find these illustrations to be an ugly mishmash of pop-art and the current wacky collage style favored by hipsters (and boy do these models look like hipsters) but I guess some of them might look alright on the right piece- the dress and cape on the last link are kind of okay.

Anyway, this outfit is totally nauseating. It makes me feel gross just looking at it- but imagine, say, wearing this look on the bus or on a park bench? Doesn't it look like the huge, gaping sleeves would soak up all dirt and grime you encountered? It reminds me seeing kids wear t-shirts in public swimming pools, and, to be honest, the whole pose has a bit of the raving drug addict about it.

Sacks for the Lower Half

Shorts began a reign of terror about two years ago, overtaking skirts and pants as the hottest below-waist look, and followed, hot on the heels, by the legging. All of a sudden people were wearing shiny shorts to formal events, or, worse, wearing baggy, pleated bermudas with a pair of tights and high heels. Currently, "bermuda" is used to describe the more fitted (and infinitely more flattering) pedal-pusher-esque short, like this one, but to me, bermudas tend to evoke a heavy, pleated, knee-length, and extremely roomy pair of shorts- the kind ugly American tourists wearing Hawaiian shirts tend to wear and make you ashamed of your country.

Shorts seem to have cooled as a major trend, and for this I am mostly thankful, even though I did purchase a pair of (non-pleated, non- baggy) red sailor-style shorts during the craze. However, we still have offerings like these Marc by Marc Jacobs Brushed Wool Shorts, on sale for $114, down from $228. (What, nobody bought? Did they miss the even more horrifying back view???) These awful shorts are wool, which is a puzzling fabric for the short, and I have thought so ever since I received a pair of bright red wool plaid shorts (with matching red chenille sweater!) for Hanukkah when I was like nine and could never quite figure out how to wear them. These shorts are so huge they resemble a kind of twisted skirt/diaper hybrid, and have what Marge Simpson might call a "balloon seat." Additionally, pairing them with sheer black tights and combat-y boots give the whole look an unsettling utilikilt vibe. (In case you are wondering what that website sells, it's freedom.) These shorts are perfect if you are craving that large and saggy look, and adding the whole Goth/SS touch just makes them that more of the moment.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't Believe the Hype

If you read fashion blogs regularly, they always make a big deal about Target's Go International collections. These lines, featured at Targets for a limited amount of time, are designed (supposedly) by big-name designers who are much more likely to be seen on the pages of Vogue than in a store that also sells dog food. In theory, this is an awesome idea- after all, Target goes after designers like Proenza Schouler and Behnaz Sarafpour who don't even have cheaper lines and are really high end. Ditto for H&M's Viktor + Rolf collection- most people could never afford something by the quirky, avant-garde design team, so it sounds like a great opportunity.

However, the problem is that when one actually goes to Target or H&M to look at these clothes, they often just end up blending into the rest of the stuff Target sells, if not looking even worse. For instance, the above three looks, from the Proenza collection, look more like they came from Sears- the v-neck striped sweater is simply awful, the jeans are ill-fitting and too low, and the polo shirt- do we need another polo? Where is the great design? Where is the innovation? Where is the risky, high-fashiony look I can't usually find new at these prices? Even though stores like Forever 21 (and you know, Target) manage to make cute and innovative designs on a small budget, these designer-designed lines usually have only a few decent pieces at best, most of which are impossible to find anyway. What's more, the pieces often look cheap and poorly made, using fabrics like polyester to mimic satin or silk instead of working with a more humble cotton- for instance the side stripe on these pants. It's as if whoever designed it didn't realize that what may look classy on a $500 piece may end up looking cheesy with cheaper materials.

Do the designers even design this stuff? Did the guys from Proenza Schouler really sit down and think, "How about a white v-neck sweater with some lines across it, like everyone wore in 1996?" I don't know. All I know is, next time Jean Paul Gaultier designs a collection for Montgomery Ward or whatever, I won't come a runnin'.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Originally "Zoo Story" but I Decided That was too Pretentious

Animal-themed prints and designs have been trendy for quite some time now. First, horses and tigers rose to popularity as part of that Chloe airbrushed 70's revival thing which I can't find any picture of, but it involved those pastel-tinted aviator sunglasses with the rhinestone hearts. At that time, maybe around 1999, you couldn't turn around an H&M or whatever without encountering a t-shirt with a rhinestone studded tiger or vaguely retro horse print.

Then came the other animals. Bunnies enjoyed a brief revival, followed by deer (which are still pretty trendy.) Birds, however, particularly bluebirds and owls, have been holding strong lately. And the problem with these animal prints is that, though they are usually endearingly quirky and charming looking (like on this tank), once everybody has them and they are stuck on this hideous t-shirt from Forever 21, they're just another slapped-together trend. Or, in the case of the Delia's short sleeve hoodie at the top left, just a tad overdone. (Plus, short sleeve hoodies- could they make any less sense?)

What will be next, though? Cephalopods have steadily been gaining steam, and I certainly wouldn't mind donning some octopus-themed attire. At the same time, I will inevitably get sick of people who don't even really like squids wearing a squid related outfit, and bemoan the ugly interpretations of the look. It's a mixed bag for sure. My friends and I have discussed the possibility of the mule being the next! hot! animal! (Or at least pushing them upon an unquestioning public.) They have all the heartiness of the horse, with the wit of a donkey, and they're sterile, which is kind of punk rock. We'll see.

Wherefore Art Thou, Marc Jacobs of Olde?

I used to looove Marc Jacobs. He was a designer who didn't take himself too seriously, got inspired by (or, perhaps "ripped off", but still) vintage styles, and was responsible for a million trends- big buttons, fifties-style party dresses, tromp l'oiel, a return to mod that occurred before the current return to mod. I used to covet multiple Marc Jacobs pieces every season, and there are still a few I wistfully think about. There was the luxe LV line, the slightly cheaper namesake label, and the "diffusion" label Marc by Marc Jacobs that sometimes sold things I could think about buying, if they were on sale. (The look on the bottom left is Lily Cole wearing Louis Vuitton in one of my all-time favorite runway outfits, only a few years ago.)

However, Marc Jacobs doesn't design like that anymore. First, his Marc line became a tired retread of stuff he'd done before- hey, another vintage inspired coat with big buttons, but uglier! Then his runway shows really started to fall apart- well, in my opinion. For instance, this Spring 2006 look, while much heralded in Teen Vogue, really signalled the beginning of the end for me. Soon it was all saggy turtlenecks and pleated jeans and that layered collection everyone liked so much even though it included a floor-length denim skirt.

The pictures above (click!) are an example of the new Marc, a collection I might call "extremely frumpy" or "I can see how you were trying to do an early 80's YSL/40's thing but it failed." The look on the right reminds me of the long, shapeless rayon shirtdresses people wore in 1996, particularly with that fascinating black leather belt. The middle look, the puzzling sequined blouse with collar/shapeless black maxi skirt, neither plays the two pieces off each other well nor fails to make the wearer look like a slightly flashy 75-year old virgin. The last look seems to be nod to 40's era Joan Crawford-esque power suits, but efforts to "modernize" it have simply made it depressing. In fact, if there's one word to describe Marc Jacobs new collection, it would have to be "depressing." That, or "frumpy."

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

People Can be Trendy Too

Dita Von Teese is everywhere. One might say, in fact, that she's trendy. She's always in gossip magazines, endorsing large companies, and at awards shows. She was even in Vogue, for some reason. She's joined the ranks of the dubiously talented but very famous, but everyone seems to be convinced that Dita, unlike Nicole Richie or that girl from Laguna Beach, is special. People are always cooing that she's really classy and unique and bringing back classic silver screen glamour, and best of all, she rejects beauty standards! In a stylish way! How subversive!

To this I say: whatever. Has anyone else not noticed that Dita Von Teese looks more like a wax figure than Jessica Simpson? She has fake boobs, forced her waist into a million corsets in order to make it more hourglassy, clearly had a nose job or something, and wears a pound of makeup every day. Her burlesque "act" seems to mostly involve her wearing glitter and wiggling around. How is she subverting anything? Is it because she doesn't have a tan? She's just another version of every other plastic Hollywood starlet wearing designer clothes (50's style ones!) with a slightly different aesthetic. Just because she has a vague "retro" thing going on doesn't make her a pioneer. Being "sexy" is her only defining characteristic. She's famous for taking her clothes off and being in Playboy, not for being talented or interesting. And she's even named herself something as charmingly retro and kittenish as possible in order to constantly remind us that she's a total pin-up goddess, not a human being like the rest of us. We already have Bettie Page as some sort of rockabilly pin-up pseudo-feminist sex symbol (despite the fact that her only real contribution was the much beloved riot grrrl to post riot grrrl staple the baby bang), we don't need another, particularly one as lame as Dita Von Teese.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Sienna Miller is a Blight Upon Fashion/ Factory Girl Clearly Sucks

In honor of the release of the certain-to-be-terrible Factory Girl and the recent trendiness of Edie Sedgwick and all things mod and 60's, I made the above collage (please click) of Sienna Miller's terrible costuming in this film.

The real Edie Sedgwick had a streamlined mod style that, despite its extremity, ultimately looked very sleek and pretty sophisticated, but still fun and young. She knew that wearing a pair of huge earrings was awesome as long as the rest of your look was simple, and that she could pull of lots of thick black eyeliner and wearing long t-shirts as dresses. She looked very 60's, but in a unique, New York-y, Factoryish kind of way. Sure, Edie was of dubious talent (though I highly recommend her biography Edie: An American Life) but she had a lot of style.

Sienna Miller, or whoever costumed her, on the other hand, made this Edie's clothes look like one of those "1960's girl" costumes you can get at the Halloween superstore- I'm surprised they didn't include a pair of white platform vinyl go-go boots to go with her million necklaces, huge earrings, floppy hats, copious amounts of eyeliner that she can't pull off, and, yes, open-toe boots. I have to say this picture probably horrified me the most. Who was responsible for placing that horrible hat and cheesy Halloween-ish looking sunglasses on her head? Have they ever looked at a picture of Edie Sedgwick?

In conclusion, there are lots of things terribly wrong with this movie. Weezer plays The Velvet Underground. Hayden Christensen plays Bob Dylan. Jimmy Fallon is in it. I believe Mary-Kate Olson has a cameo- perhaps as a starving monkey, which is the only role I can see her successfully filling. Basically, there's nothing good. On the plus side, it could be really bad in a good/entertaining way. The clothes, however, are just bad in a bad way.

Attack of the Belt, Vest, Tunic, Leggings, and Jewelery

Trendy clothing items are, ideally, meant to be worn in moderation. If you're wearing a babydoll tent dress, maybe lay off the leggings and slouch boots. Wearing several trends at once is generally an indicator that you have no style of your own, and are just haphazardly putting together stuff you saw someone else wear.

The girl to the left looks like such a person. We have an owl necklace, a jewelery trend that somehow surged to popularity despite their extreme ugliness (Hey, I love owls too. It doesn't mean I want a four inch gold one hanging off my neck.) There is also, perhaps most unfortunately, a denim vest involved. The striped tunic/mini dress and tights/leggings is a potentially cute look, but again is ultra-trendy and usually fails. And the piece de resistance is the totally out of place brown leather woven belt hanging off her hips. Why is that there? It doesn't even match.

For awhile, people were like, "You can only pull off this [trend-focused, layered] look if you're Sienna Miller." But now, finally, after the underwear-over-tights incident, people are finally realizing she's a fraud. In fact, nobody can pull of this look, and nobody should try.