Friday, May 31, 2013

Emma's bag

We gave our friend Emma a beige Chanel bag just like this one for her 40th....  I so often get caught up in searching for the newest, latest.... - but this beige bag with an all black outfit... pretty perfect.

Dressing for summer AND the city

My kids are 8 and 10. Regularly on a Sunday we take them somewhere in town for lunch, and every time I have an argument with them about how they are dressed. My son will do board shorts and a t-shirt, finished off with crocs. My daughter will wear a tank top and frilly skirt with flip flops. I know what you are thinking - who is the fool who allowed crocs in the house. Yes, that'll be me and I have regretted it every time I lay eyes on those dreadfully hideous monstrosities. Soon they will magically disappear to the land of shoes that "no longer fit".

So I have the chat with them - when we go into town, I would like you children to dress appropriately. Which means shirts with collars for boys and a top with sleeves for girls. I am happy with short sleeves, but tank tops belong nowhere near a city center no matter how young you are or how fabulous your arms are at any age. And proper leather shoes or sandals for my daughter, while I am happy for my son to wear Converse All Stars.

Inevitably we find ourselves in a restaurant surrounded by mainlanders and apparently crocs are a popular choice of footwear among adult men there. There will be basketball tanks screaming Kobe, and a whole lotta arm on display everywhere. My kids delight in pointing out all these fashion choices - in their mind the majority must be right.

If dressing for summer in a hot and humid climate is impossible, try adding a cosmopolitan city center in the mix and there you are - up shit's creek without a paddle.

The reason why arms are better covered, is that very few people in the mom age bracket have perfect arms. And you know what, if your arms have no flaws, no one notices them. But an arm a tiny bit too pale, too flabby, or with uneven skin color will be noticed and will detract from your outfit. A slightly looser three quarter or bracelet length sleeve is perfect for summer. And it will protect you from the sun at the same time. The only exception to this (if you have good arms) is a sleeveless fitted dress in a woven fabric. If you have good arms, I think those can be quite nice.

But don't just throw on a linen peasant top for the city. I know Isabel Marant is very fond of them, but they look good with young flawless faces. On a middle aged mom they look like the seventies. I mean they look like you still got all your tops from the seventies. If you value thriftiness and you want to convey that in your outfit, by all means, go to Isabel's shop on Ice House Street.

If you sweat, it is extremely important to pick the right colors in summer. Either go very light or very dark. A medium blue with turn into very dark blue when wet, and the same is true for a shade like watermelon pink for instance. When you are about to buy a summer top, put some spit on your finger and rub it over the fabric to see what happens... and then put it back and buy something black! I love black for summer - I know it makes you hot when you are in the sun, so walk on the shaded side of the street. Or the shady side if you prefer. But black clothes in summer, especially with gold sandals and gold jewelry, are just stunning.

Summer shoes are tricky too. Sandals are best because your feet swell in heat, but there too is a fine line between city and beach. I think a covered heel with an open toe is a good combo. There are few things more out of place in the city than an unkempt craggy heel. 

My children are right, I am a fascist fashion dictator. But that's fine. For many years when I have had to wait in line or wait for a train I have played this game of checking out the passersby and counting the well dressed versus the not so well dressed. Especially in summer the badly dressed are outdoing the well dressed by 20 to 1. What is it about summer that makes people think anything goes?

The best gift you can give yourself fashion wise is a JCrew navy blue Perfect Shirt with three-quarter sleeves. If you wondered why the picture of Michelle Obama above, look at her shirt. Put that on and I don't even care what you put on the bottom. You will look good and appropriate, and you will be only marginally more hot. You could also have the same shirt made in navy blue cotton voile, which is a bit lighter still. If you are not sure what to do, the key to summer dressing in the city is to never wear shapes that you would not wear in winter.

Often when women discuss the pitfalls of getting dressed every day they say "men have it so easy". Yes they do have it easy because they put on failsafe clothes every day. When a man puts on a shirt, he's done and he looks nice. When he walks around the city in a sleeveless T-shirt, however, we laugh at his builder's tan, his body shape, and his inappropriateness. Why is it any different for us???

I have posted a picture of this Kate Moss outfit before - but this triple Kate version really drives the message home

Summer in the city - simple and tailored is the way to go

Monday, May 27, 2013

Post Lurgy Blues

After a spell of the lurgy I am dying to put on a colorful top and some sandals and go outside and enjoy some sunshine.

Something like this.

But this is what we got. See my sad sandals on the wet pavement? That's a pool house in the middle of the picture. Yeah I can't see it either. It's been like this since my mum and dad left which was the 19th of March.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fashion Inspiration Number One

Julia from Germany asked me the other day who inspires me most. It made me think of what I would consider inspire to mean before answering the question - inspired to do something new with your life? Inspired to get dressed in a certain way? Inspired to buy something? There is one person who inspires me to do all three, and that is Sofia Coppola.  I even want to buy her bags for Louis Vuitton. Although I have no idea if she still does them. Last I knew that was happening in 2010.

Sofia with a bag of her own design for Louis Vuitton

this crocodile clutch is the most elegant evening bag I have ever seen - from

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chicer than chic

Speaking of chic, Prada trousers and top - from L'Officiel of May 2013

She's all hat and no horse

I just learned about this expression for the first time, of all places on a Shakespeare reference website, where I was researching clothing references in Macbeth (see it HERE).  It means the person in question attempts with his or her appearance to come across as something different than she actually is, for example more accomplished or successful. I love a good metaphor - we Dutch have gazillions of them, one for every occasion.

There is a scene in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts in a particularly ladylike dress at a polo match finds out that Richard Gere has told people there that she is actually a prostitute. 

"Why did you make me get all dressed up? If you were going to tell everyone that I'm a hooker, why didn't you just let me wear my own clothes? I mean, in my own clothes, when someone like that guy Stuckey comes up to me, I can handle it! I'm prepared"

It's something to think about when you get dressed. I was researching "clothes as armor" because I am really interested in how clothes help you say something about yourself without speaking. For example, can someone who is very chic also be friendly? Royal couturier Hardy Amies did not think so. Vanity Fair reports him as saying that the queen must not dress chic, because there is something unkind about chic.

I am still collecting my thoughts and hope I can come up with a good post about all of this one day. For now I will close with a very modern bit a language: here's a shout out to the author of the "Yippee! you are back in business!" email. That made me smile all day. Thanks for the encouraging messages - love to know you are reading - and liking - and taking the time to say so.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday afternoon window shopping

Bamboo handle Gucci bag

Looove this two-tone Classic Duffel bag in the dirty windows of the Times Square Saint Laurent Paris store

Din Tai Fung vegetable dumplings doused in soy sauce with fresh ginger and vinegar. Best hangover cure in Hong Kong

Colorful snakeskin at Tods

Between a dumpling lunch in Causeway Bay and buying a car at the auto mall in Wanchai a bit of window shopping: loved the Saint Laurent Classic Duffels and Tods bright and cheery snakeskin driving shoes. The Gucci bamboo handle bag is so pretty but someone who owns one told me the bamboo really hurts her arm when she carries it.  But as my mom always says and her mom too: wie mooi will zijn moet pijn lijden (she who wants to be vain has to suffer pain). I use that line a lot on my daughter too, especially when she complains while I comb out her unruly hair.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Vieux Rose

Wendy from

Bordeaux, blues, and as the French say so beautifully, vieux rose, or old pink

color wheel

MFG's dressing room

I took a look at this morning, and came across the picture above with the lovely color combo of soft pink, dark red, and vivid cobalt blue. I love those colors together and I also love how the shade of pink is quite subdued while the dark red and blue are quite intense. It's made me think of color theory and why some colors work together and some don't (read more about color theory HERE).

I often wonder when you see really well dressed women, whether it is an innate ability or a lucky reach into the wardrobe. I think that dressing well consistently actually needs a bit of planning.  Here's where having a color wheel hanging in one of your wardrobe doors can be really useful. You probably have some lovely potential combinations in that wardrobe, but without prompting, you may always put your reds with a navy blue, rather than a blue green or a mustard yellow for instance. It's also nice to combine only different shades of one color in an outfit, like charcoal grey cashmere, heather grey cotton jersey and light grey satin. There are many color wheels on Google Images for you to print out.

The other thing that's vital is to make sure you can see everything you have. I love glass doors on wardrobes as in the picture of Melbourne Fashion Girl's glam dressing room. She has a mix of accessories and books in this section but it would also make a great space for t-shirts and jumpers sorted by color. By the way, I am not following any of this advice myself. My wardrobe is an incredible mess, I can't see anything because my doors are closed, and although I have lots of colorful clothes, I can't actually find them. Don't be like me is all I can say.